Imran Khan has said he will overhaul police in Pakistan amid an outcry after counter-terrorism officers killed an innocent family and then appeared to try to mount a cover up.
Pakistan’s prime minister said the widespread anger at alleged police brutality and impunity was justified and those responsible would face “exemplary punishment”.
Saturday’s killing sparked protests in the city of Lahore after four people were shot dead on a road in the town of Sahiwal.
Counter-terrorism officers at first said the incident was a shootout with child kidnappers, then said all were terrorists, before saying the driver was a terrorist, but his passengers were innocent.
Zeeshan Javed, was killed alongside three passengers – grocery store owner Muhammad Khalil, his wife and their 12 year-old daughter – when their car was riddled with bullets.
The grief & anger of the ppl of Pak on Sahiwal incident is understandable & justified. I assure the nation that when I return from Qatar not only will the guilty be given exemplary punishment but I will review the entire structure of Punjab police & start process of reforming it.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) January 21, 2019
Police said Javed fired on officers first and weapons were found in the car. That account has been disputed by witnesses, including Khalil’s other three children who survived with minor wounds.
Police have also falsely claimed the car had tinted windows.
Mr Khan, who is currently visiting Qatar, said: “The grief and anger… is understandable and justified."
He said: "I will review the entire structure of Punjab police and start process of reforming it.”
A preliminary investigation is due to report back on Tuesday, while Pakistan’s senate has also called for a judicial inquiry.
Officials on Monday maintained that Javed was an Islamic State operative who had been under surveillance, but said the other dead were “collateral damage”.
Cases of murder and terrorism have now been registered against 16 unidentified counter terrorism officials.
The incident and television footage of the shocked child survivors caused outrage in a country where extra-judicial killings through staged confrontations known as fake encounters are notorious.
Shireen Mazari, human rights minister, said: “It is our duty to end decades of tolerance for killings through ‘encounters’. What was tolerated, even encouraged by previous governments/state must end now.”