Television reports showing a young man shot in cold blood by the Rangers in Karachi are disturbing to watch (I feel physically sick after watching it). An unidentified cameraman filmed the episode and made the footage available to TV channels – it’s online if anyone has the heart to watch it but better to read this report about the incident by AFP reporter Hasan Mansoor: Five soldiers arrested after Pakistan park killing.
The extra-judicial murder of this young man, Sarfaraz Shah, at the long, coastal Benazir Bhutto Park opposite Boat Basin (a hub of food shops and cafes) in Karachi, is a reminder of the impunity that our security forces enjoy. They claimed he had tried to rob a policeman’s family. Even if he had succeed, they had no business shooting at him. What happened to due process of law? Why aren’t the Rangers and other security people given basic human rights and legal training?
Extrajudicial killing in Pakistan is not new. But this is first time TV channels showed footage of it, sparking off public outrage. Reminds me of the public outrage at the Swat flogging after that video went on air; the taliban and their ilk committed many other atrocities that we never actually saw. Videos of what looks like the Pakistani soldiers lining up and killing young boys have done the rounds on the internet, but the channels didn’t broadcast those as they were ‘un-verified’.
Now, coupled with the increasing calls for the accountability of the security apparatus, perhaps there’ll be some changes. The HRCP filed a petition in 2007, asking the court to ask the intelligence agencies and the defence ministry about laws or rules that authorise their functioning and what their mandate is, and for the interior and defence ministries to spell out who the intelligence agencies are accountable to (see this excellent interview of Asma Jahangir in the Herald).
Noman Quadri, an activist in Karachi, suggests erecting a small monument with a “peace dove with red blood spots on it at the place the poor guy was murdered at point blank in the Benazir Bhutto Park. The park named for the victim of extremism has now its own victim waiting for justice.”
But the Chief Justice obviously has more important things to do, like taking suo moto notice after the authorities released the public relations face of Musharraf’s party, well known actress Atiqa Odho, who had been caught with two bottles of wine coming into Islamabad airport (she has quit Musharraf’s partydue to the embarrassment caused by the row). He has yet to accept the Request for Suo Moto action against vigilantism, incitement to violence delivered to him on February 10, 2011, signed by hundreds of prominent citizens.