By Kiyya Qadir Baloch
August 16, 2013
Aamir Qureshi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images A gunman, identified as Muhammad Sikandar, 51, with his wife, waged a five-hour standoff with the police on Thursday in Islamabad.
Aamir Qureshi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
A gunman, identified as Muhammad Sikandar, 51, with his wife, waged a five-hour standoff with the police on Thursday in Islamabad.
The drama involving an armed lunatic and the apparently untrained police – staged in the high-security Red Zone of Islamabad – ended after almost six hours with the arrest of the man, who had been demanding implementation of an Islamic system in Pakistan.
The man, along with his wife and two children had reportedly drove into the Red Zone, breaching all barriers leading to the area.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Zamurd Khan’s role was pivotal in the capture of the gunman, who tried to disarm him and got injured in the attempt. The armed man, who had fired at least five random shots at the Constitution Avenue, Islamabad, was finally arrested by security forces on the directives of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, who had ordered the police to take him in alive. The police also took into custody the armed man’s children and wife.
The episode began with the man, identified as Sikandar, waded into the Red Zone in a car at around 5pm on Thursday and opened fire, putting a question mark on the capability of police and other law enforcement agencies to control the situation.
Hit by surprise following the panic created by the ‘dangerous’ man dressed in black, police and Rangers cordoned off the area and barred enter for everyone. The police also rushed towards him and tried to convince him to lay down the arms. Sikandar, in no mood of negotiating with ‘junior cops’, asked for police high-ups to come in for talks. When they did, he made a demand that stunned all those around –establishment of Shariah in Pakistan.
Many senior police officials, including SSP (Operations) Dr Rizwan, and renowned politician Nabeel Gabool were also present at the scene to control the situation and persuade the man to surrender peacefully, but he refused to give up. Dr Rizwan said that the man was carrying two automatic weapons – a Kalashnikov rifle and an SMG.
“I want safe passage and Islamic rule in the country,” the man demanded. “As our country is an Islamic republic, we want Shariah imposed in Pakistan,” he said in a telephonic call to a private news channel. “I am against vulgarity and immorality. My associates have taken up positions in the whole of Pakistan,” he said
After more than six hours of the drama, politician Zamurd Khan stepped in for negotiations. He approached the family, shook hands with the children, and suddenly tried to grab Sikandar. The man freed himself and opened fire on the politician, who managed to take the children away from the line of fire. The police then finally acted swiftly and got hold of the armed man, who was also injured in the attempt.
“Police said they were trying to tackle the situation with utmost care, as the gunman was apparently using the woman and two children as shields. But we succeeded in arresting him alive,” said Dr Rizwan while talking to the media at the climax. “The woman named Kanwal, who claims that the armed man was her husband, said she had no idea what he was up to.”
There were reports that Sikandar’s first wife lives in the UAE and has a son, who is in the custody of the Emirates police on murder charges.
Pakistani Gunman Is Shot by Police, Ending Standoff in Islamabad
By Salman Masood
August 15, 2013
The gunman, holding two assault rifles and accompanied by his wife and young son and daughter, had paralyzed the capital for five hours after he failed to elude a police chase and ended up parking a stolen vehicle on one of its main avenues.
As police officers, rangers and anti-terrorist squad commandos took up positions nearby, the gunman, identified as Muhammad Sikandar, 51, demanded that Pakistan adopt an Islamic system of government and that new elections be held under Islamic laws.
Ignoring police warnings to clear the area, several dozen onlookers milled about instead, making jokes about the gunman and hooting at him derisively.
Islamabad has been on high alert for 10 days after intelligence reports that militants were planning to target military and government buildings. Last week, a suicide bomber was killed as he tried to enter a Shiite mosque on the outskirts of the city. But police officials said that Thursday’s standoff did not appear to be the work of any terrorist group.
As evening shadows fell over the Jinnah Avenue, senior police officials said Mr. Sikandar seemed to be a “psychological patient,” and they prolonged the negotiations in the hope that he would surrender peacefully.
Instead Mr. Sikandar repeated his demands, flaunted his weapons, smoked cigarettes and drank energy drinks. He used his cellphone to give interviews to some local television networks, insisting that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and that an Islamic system should be put in place here.
His children hopped outside the vehicle, sometimes clambering on its rooftop. Their mother, clad in a black conservative dress, walked up to police officers several times to convey her husband’s wish list. Claiming to be on a mission, Mr. Sikandar said he could not live a dull, domesticated life of routine. As talk show hosts pleaded with him to let his children go, he said angrily that he had not forced his children to join him and that they did not want to leave their parents.
Several politicians also arrived at the scene and tried without success to engage him.
As public impatience with the situation grew, Zamarud Khan, a former lawmaker and politician from the Pakistan Peoples Party, walked up to the couple apparently to try to negotiate with them.
Mr. Khan, a tall, heavyset man, leaned down to shake hands with the children as Mr. Sikandar stood nearby, his guns pointing toward the ground. All of a sudden, Mr. Khan lunged at the gunman, catching him off guard, but he managed to free himself from the grip of his would-be captor, who slipped on the asphalt.
At that point, police sharpshooters opened fire, narrowly missing Mr. Khan. As he and Mr. Mr. Sikandar’s family ran for cover, the police shot Mr. Sikandar in the leg and chest. He fell to the ground and within seconds, was surrounded by the police. Two officers were also wounded in the shootout, officials said.
Mr. Sikandar was taken to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences hospital in Islamabad, where he underwent surgery and was listed in critical condition, said Waseem Khawaja, a hospital spokesman.
Talking with reporters later, Mr. Khan, who was given a hero’s ovation by the bystanders and other politicians, said he had grown exasperated at one man holding the capital hostage and tarnishing Pakistan’s image.
“I had planned that either I will sacrifice my life or catch this man,” he said.