After witnessing the gruesome murder of their family members and waiting 10 long months for trial, the family of the victims in the Sahiwal encounter has accepted the court’s decision to acquit all suspects in the case giving them the benefit of the doubt. This case was brought to the limelight by social media and protocols of security officials were questioned as the loss of civilian lives based on lack of information should be challenged. This case was managed by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) in Lahore and they named a sub-inspector as an in-charge of the Sahiwal operation to save senior officials. There was no questioning about this move or who ordered this operation in the first place.

After 10 months of investigation, the security forces have failed to come up with credible evidence that can help penalise those involved in the operation. The casual loss of civilian lives should be condemned and a precedent should have been set to revitalise the trust of civilians in the institutions of this country. Throughout the case, Muhammad Jalil, complainant and brother of deceased Muhammad Khalil, and his lawyer had publicly accused some CTD officials of threatening his family. He demanded security during case proceedings in the Sahiwal ATC. He is also the one who pushed for the formation of a Judicial Inquiry Team (JIT) to investigate the case and also got the case shifted to the Lahore High Court (LHC).

Now Jalil is of the opinion that he has no intention of challenging the ATC’s decision because that would make the matter political and draw more attention towards the family. This shows how the case has shattered the trust of both Jalil and other Pakistanis in the state’s ability to get justice for the people. In this particular case, Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan himself promised justice to the aggrieved party and to the nation because the ruthless murder had no justification whatsoever. Even if the CTD was tipped off regarding criminal activities, they did not complete their own research and opened fire at a family leaving the kids behind to deal with the trauma of the death of their parents.

It is important for the PM to look into the case. If the court can give the suspects benefit of the doubt despite what transpired that day, it is high time that influentials are no longer offered protection by the judicial system, especially law enforcement officials.