Published On: Sat, Jun 11th, 2011

Public Extra Judicial Killing

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Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani, Secretary General – JKCHR.

Public extra judicial killing by Rangers of an unarmed young man Sarfaraz Shah in Karachi – Pakistan aired on all TV channels late Wednesday 8 June 2011 has shaken every human soul in Pakistan.  Pakistanis and Kashmiris living all over the world were equally shocked by the barbarity committed in public. Under a clear blue sky, one of the Rangers shoots the pleading boy while four others stand watching.

The Rangers as a routine had earlier claimed that the boy was robbing people in the Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Park and was killed in an armed encounter. But Rangers were caught lying and with blood of an innocent human person on their hands when the incident was captured on camera and the footage found its way to television channels. Law enforcement agencies have been hiding behind the iron curtain of Army Act 1952 and have so far continued to keep the cognizance of any court under the laws of the land at arm’s length.

It is unfortunate for them that some skeletons have started falling out of the closet from May this year. Earlier TV cameras caught Frontier Constabulary and police killing in a naked aggression in broad day light five unarmed Chechens including a pregnant woman on May 17 at a checkpoint in the Quetta locality of Kharotabad.  A long list of journalist killed and the latest kidnapping, torture and killing of Saleem Shehzad are all feared to be deaths associated with the same mind set in the establishment.

Civil society institutions, politicians and commentators on TV talk shows have been vehemently arguing that ISI was involved in the kidnap, torture and death of Saleem Shehzad. The fact that telephone records of Saleem Shehzad have been erased back to 12 May offers a lead that only ISI could have power to manage the erase of telephone records from the telephone server. The practice to erase the telephone record of Saleem Shehzad is a repeat of an earlier erase of telephone record of another senior journalist Umer Cheema of The News who was kidnapped and severely tortured. He was however, lucky to survive the torture and surface alive to join his family and the news paper.

It seems that the privileges of protection under Army Act 1952 and amendments made in the Act in 2007 by Musharraf to make armed forces different from the common citizen in Pakistan and above law have come to a full circle. The secrecy and protection enjoyed so far has passed its sell by date. Ex-Federal Minister and Muslim LeagueNawaz MNA Khawaja Saad Rafique stood up in the National assembly of Pakistan and called Rangers involved in the extra judicial killing of an innocent person in Karachi as Terrorists in uniform. He was joined by Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, MNA NA-149 (Multan-II) Senior Vice President PML-N, who broke down in tears and appealed the military establishment with folded hands to learn from their misadventure against Bengali people in East Pakistan. He asked the secret agencies to leave Pakistan without harm for its future generation and put an end to the killing of their own people. A countrywide debate is taking place on the growing gap between army and the common man.  People are angry to find that Field Marshal Ayub Khan in his book Friends Not Masters at page 210 has ridiculed the civilian population in Pakistan with many negatives and as low as the “Shudars” in Hindu caste system. People argue that Army ever since independence has continued to behave as elites and different from the civilians. It has failed to give up the colonial mind set as yet.

Things changed altogether when Supreme Court of Pakistan took a Suo moto action into the brutal killing and disposed the case on 10 June 2011. Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on Friday ordered to post out Sindh Inspector General (IG) Police and Director General (DG) Rangers Sindh within three days. A five-member special bench headed by CJP and comprising Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk, Justice Tariq Pervez and Justice Amir Hani Muslim heard the case. The CJP termed the killing a barbaric act and said that both the officials should have resigned. He said an independent investigation was not possible in the presence of these two officials and hence they should be posted out. In case if notification in this regard is not issued their salaries would be stopped. The trial court was also instructed to hear the case on day-to-day basis and complete it within 30 days.

It is for the first time that Director General (DG) Rangers Sindh a serving General in uniform was in the dock faced with the cognizance of the Supreme Court under common law. The CJ said that the manner in which Sarfaraz’s murder had been committed clearly indicated barbarism.
The Chief Justice asked to submit the Rangers deployment notification in the court. The court was also informed that two Ranger men Shahid Zafar and Mohammed Afzal involved in the killing had been handed over to police.

The civil society in Pakistan has undergone a sea change since the uninterrupted American action in Abbottabad on 2 May 2011. A series of many other events have continued to shake their faith in the military establishment and its much ‘dreaded’ surveillance apparatus. There is a growing demand that army should accept to be obedient to the Constitution and subordinate to the elected government. It has been asked to step away from controlling the foreign policy of the State.

Demands have been justly aired that citizens deserve respect for their fundamental rights, including the rights to life and dignity of the human person. Unlawful killings by security agencies should stop and perpetrators should be made to face the full wrath of the law. This is the only way to restore public confidence in law-enforcers.

Former Prime Minister & PML-N Quaid Muhammad Nawaz Sharif while speaking at a reference held in the memory of Saleem Shehzad (journalist kidnapped, tortured and murdered) under the auspices of South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) on Friday 10 June 2011 in Lahore made it public that military establishment and its agencies have done so much damage to Kashmir cause as never witnessed before. It is high time that decently honest and manly bold Kashmiri leaders and common people should ask whether military establishment in Pakistan has any Kashmiri skeletons in its closets. The Strategic Depth philosophy of military establishment has failed. According to strategic depth Pakistan army was supposed to have a pro-Pakistan government in Afghanistan by any and all means. It has failed.

At the same time the authors of militancy in Kashmir have failed in their vision and commitment. They have caused the death of a generation in Kashmir and as a consequence have killed the right of self-determination as well. We are left with a confused, badly bruised, humiliated and disgraced civil society. The history of self-respect, honour and dignity of a Kashmiri man and woman has been bashed hard for the first time in its history since March 1846.

Right of Self Determination does not seem to be any of our concerns at this point after 23 years of present phase of so called ‘resistance’ movement. We are not even seen as fit and mature to be accepted as a party for any discussion between India and Pakistan on Kashmir. All our pleadings that the people of Kashmir should be taken on board have fallen on deaf ears or have been rejected with disdain. We seem to have done a further disservice to our own cause and have confused India and Pakistan, when we ask them to take on board the ‘genuine’ leadership.

The proposal (genuine leadership) constitutes a serious challenge in regard to the certification of the ‘genuine’ and the right of others condemned (not genuine) to challenge the claim of being genuine. If by certification our leaders mean the one provided by the establishment, then it makes them at war with the people of Pakistan, who have a serious grievance against their establishment. Are we prepared to sin against the common man and woman in Pakistan and side with the establishment which does not respect its Constitution, is elitist and wants to remain above law.

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