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Pakistanis love encounters and their specialists. Then why this outrage over Sahiwal tragedy?


  • Last weekend’s police killing of a couple and their daughter
  • in Sahiwal, has the country up in arms
  • While the JIT report on the incident is being released
  • it is time for the nation to discuss police encounters
  • The Sahiwal event is horrific
  • BUT it is not the ONLY police encounter
  • that Pakistan must grapple with
  • The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reports
  • 3,345 people were killed in police encounters
  • between 2014 and 2018
  • That’s 3000+ distraught families seeking explanations
  • for the loss of their loved ones
  • Our police force is used to taking
  • extrajudicial routes to handle cases
  • Usually, instead of backlash, they receive praise
  • For the large part, the public is supportive
  • of the police’s trigger-happy culture
  • Remember Chaudhry Aslam? The encounter king?
  • His extrajudicial encounter track record was highly praised
  • Then there is Rao Anwar – who still roams free
  • As a society, we are accepting of ‘vigilante justice’,
  • ‘encounters’, and extrajudicial killings
  • This is not to say that police systems are not to blame
  • The growing mistrust between citizens and the police,
  • their low pays, outdated equipment, lack of training
  • and understaffing are all problems that have led us here
  • But at this moment, our apathy towards police encounters
  • should be closely analysed
  • Is it time to call for an end to the encounter culture?
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