Three Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) employees protesting against the privatisation of the national carrier have died as the Singh Rangers countered their peaceful demonstration with water cannons, tear gas, baton charge, and bullets. The victims include PIA Assistant Manager Inayat Raza and engineer Saleem Akbar while a third victim, Zubair, succumbed to his wounds in hospital yesterday. The knee-jerk response of the administration to citizens exercising their right of peaceful assembly and protest is not new, and it has always backfired.
Instead of condoling with the families of those killed, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (who is believed to have a vested interest in privatising the airline), has suspended the PIA employees’ right to protest under the Essential Services Act, and threatened the them with loss of job and incarceration.
Killed by a bullet to the chest, Inayat Raza was a former student union leader with the National Students’ Federation (NSF) in Karachi in the 1980s. He is survived by his wife and three daughters. Below, a moving tribute to him by activist and researcher Mansoor Raza in Karachi: