The rewards of honesty

You would have to be exceptionally callous to be able to forget the image of a woman being shot in broad daylight; unarmed and seven month’s pregnant. She was amongst the five foreigners, who were shot in Kharotabad by security officials.

Caught on tape, the video of the security personnel of Frontier Corps firing at unarmed civilians was all over news channels, explanations followed. Officials from the Frontier Corps insisted that the five foreigners were trained terrorists. There were too many unanswered questions, how did one of the FC men die? Why was the inquiry initiated after much delay? What triggered the gunfire from the security officials?

The explanation was, and as proven partly true, that the foreigners were trained terrorist and the gunfire was triggered by grenade attack at the FC check post.

Fortunately, The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights was quick to critique the judicial report that was no less than a cover up for the crimes committed by our security personnel. Moreover, the report was unashamedly presented with praise of the agencies for their successful crackdown on a racket.

An inquiry ensued.

The five men and women were killed in cold blood, no weapons were found in their custody, no signs of the suicide jackets that the FC claimed they had seen. There was much that needed to be told. Jamal Tarakai, the cameraman who captured the images of the shootout, was tortured after he had produced the video in front of the inquiry committee. The images showed one of the women, unarmed and raising her hand thrice while being shot at continuously by the Frontier Corps.

Police Surgeon Baqir Shah who was responsible for the forensics, testified that no grenade attack was carried out. Dr Shah was threatened, attacked and tortured. A committee was formed to investigate the moves to destroy evidence. Dr Shah is dead, attacked by ‘unidentified gunmen’ who opened fire on his car, as he was returning from the hospital yesterday. The committee is yet to reveal it’s findings.

Despite being threatened, attacked and tortured, a courageous Baqir Shah spoke in front of the camerasBilkul nahin daronga, main tribunal par jaonga, Justice Hashim say poochounga yehi sila diya hai? Mainay haq ki gawaahi di, uss pay mujhay yeh sila mila?” (I will not be scared; I will go to the tribunal and ask Justice Hashim if this is the treatment I deserve for being truthful? Is this what I deserve for siding with the right?”)

His courage and defiance helped the judicial tribunal in concluding that the Frontier Corps were responsible for the extra-judicial killings of the five foreigners.

The judicial tribunal on the Kharotabad incident has found Col Faisal Shahzad of Frontier Corps, former Quetta police chief Daud Junejo and other FC and police personnel guilty of killing five foreigners and recommend legal action against them.”

Despite the threats, Dr Shah testified against the tribunal, a testimony that helped the tribunal recommend legal action against the culprits. But, as Dr Shah better said it himself “Kya sila diya?

So, who do we blame for the death of a key forensic investigator? The provincial government that should have provided him with security? The judges who he testified to? Maybe the absence of a witness protection law?

But let’s not even talk about blame, let’s talk about responsibility. Who will take on this responsibility, so that no more of our brave men and women are killed in cold blood? Because this will happen again and continue to happen unless we put an end to it. Rhetorics won’t count, actions will.

There’s a lesson to be learned here and we need to say it loud and clear. For years now human rights organisations have raised concern over the misconducts of security officials in Balochistan. In the face of innumerable allegations of extra judicial abductions and killings, this particular case glimmered a bleak hope that no one is above the law. However, with the murder of Baqir Shah, that hope has become a mockery.

We can not absolve our institutions from taking responsibility while brave men and women continue to be abducted, mutilated and dumped on road sides. Unless substantial actions are taken to ensure the protection of key witnesses and investigators as mandatory by law, unidentified gunmen will continue leaving piles of dead bodies and bundles of human rights report for us, their silent spectators.


Sana Saleem blogs at Global Voices, Asian CorrespondentThe Guardian and her personal blog Mystified Justice. She recently won the Best Activist Blogger award by CIO & Google at the Pakistan Blogger Awards. She can be found on Facebook.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Sana Saleem is the co-founder of Bolo Bhi & Stories Beyond Borders.

She's on the board of advisory for Courage Foundation, Edward Snowden's legal defence fund.

She can be found on Twitter & Facebook.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Comments (62) Closed

Dec 30, 2011 01:31pm
Dear Madam, the three organs of the state, main opposition party and media are busy in playing MEMO. There is no importance of such brave men, GAS and electricity load shading. These are common man problems.
Dec 30, 2011 02:01pm
I blame the Pakistani media. They created an uproar when the soldiers were killed but have remained relatively quiet on this issue. At least Dawn should have highlighted this ghastly killing !
Dec 30, 2011 02:04pm
A very sad day. May allah reward Mr. Baqir Shah for his courage. Ameen. Shame on FC.
muhammad aamir
Dec 30, 2011 02:34pm
A very brave article based on true facts. I think its time to raise our hands on such issues. Nothing more to say on such shameful act.
S Patel
Dec 30, 2011 03:12pm
Enemy WITHIN , This also happens in India , It is called ENCOUNTER & police are HEROs. & resulting inquri has similar results to above incident . WE are so SIMILAR in every thing we do that I wonder why we are different as countries . By ENEMY WITHIN i mean why we indians & pakistanis hate each other while all the sufferings that we suffer is imposed by OUR RULERS .
Dec 30, 2011 03:40pm
This incidence is an open truth that our society has lost humanity. Any thing bad you name it, it exist in our society.
Dec 30, 2011 03:54pm
That is a sad conclusion of a truthful and loyal person but he is not dead in my view, he is alive but we can't see him anymore! I think, Dr Shah could have much higher place if he could have sought the reward for his truthfulness and righteousness from Almighty Allah instead of the selfish authoritative people! May Allah (SWT) rest his soul in peace! Ameen!
Dec 30, 2011 04:37pm
this is real face of our society truth wil not prevail in our society
Dec 30, 2011 05:21pm
Out of the millions in your country,are there non who have the guts to tell the authorities that enough is enough.You people deserve peace and justice.Yet you cannot stand up against the slaughter of of a man who stood up for justice and the truth.
Dec 30, 2011 05:40pm
this sends a message to the youth, be honest and loose, be corrupt and you will be successful.
Dec 30, 2011 05:42pm
thats good that human like doctor shah still exist in our country, surprisingly even after toutre and threats, he stand on his comments.....unfortunately in the country of millions, no one came foward to protect look like agencies, law enforcement, federal and state govt, killers and terrorist all work under same roof.....hats off to Dr. shah for the brave move...may god rest his soul in eternal peace,,,aameen
Mohsin Rahimoon
Dec 30, 2011 06:43pm
Very sad because last day in Quetta a brave man killed by not unknown persons, but every one know about them, who is killer of Dr Baqir shah, and who will gate relief after Dr Baqir shah, but this is that unfortunately our institutions are not ready for take action against them.same time in our country now a days Rulers artificially create this situation for public Gas loadsheeding,we dont have any hope from them that they take action against them they are behind this incident.
Dec 30, 2011 06:47pm
A very tragic incident in many aspects, we are morally destitute as a nation. It requires answer to many hidden stories which will never come to light.I suggest that a fund be established for the family of Dr. Baqir Shah by DAWN in honour of his steadfastness in the face of all odds for the cause of JUSTICE.
javaid khan
Dec 30, 2011 06:52pm
It is an excellent article. It is written by brave and conscious woman. Since last 64 years army is destroying Pakistan. It will keep on damaging Pakistan until its control is taken away over state. Still majority of Pakistani support army. javaid
Dec 30, 2011 06:55pm
I often wonder at you muslims,even in my own country where if one dies due to tragedy ,you call it takdir [fate].Try telling that to his family.Such things happen in your country because you people have no guts to question your elected representatives in the parliament as to what are they doing there. If these people had the guts your nation would not be facing this turmoil both financially, economically, education and the general mayhem. Why don't you tell your elected representative that unless they buck up you will not vote for them.
Dec 30, 2011 06:57pm
What similarity are you talking about Mr Patel? Do we criticize any minority religion in national television in India which is a norm in Pak television? Economy wise, health sector wise and IT sector wise, do you think there is any comparison between the two countries? NO and the difference is HUGE. And this is not out of arrogance, this is based on facts. One is a transforming country with the youth giving more importance to progress and the other is a country with a downward trend where the youth is mostly interested in "protecting" its version of Islam. Period! Stop comparing the two countries. The only things similar are the food habits and corruption.
Dec 30, 2011 06:59pm
I truly feel sad today on the death of this very honest man who didnt bow to pressure. He is a real martyr i say. Dr. Shah was an honest man and will IA make his place in Jannat while the ones who killled him will find no respite on judgement day.
Dec 30, 2011 07:10pm
Apparently now the GEO cameraman who shot the footage thinks he will be killed next. He came on Capital Talk yesterday and appealed to Hamid Mir and Imran Khan to do something about this. However, he was too scared to openly name the group he thinks is responsible. He did hint that it is one of the armed groups that are freely roaming the area. We yell and scream about Blackwater, Raymond Davis, the American army, and other foreign elements. These misguided groups are just as responsible if not more than the foreigners in spreading fear, death and destruction in Pakistan. Let us all come out like Dr. Shah and clearly identify these groups.
Adil Jadoon
Dec 30, 2011 07:22pm
yet another shameful incident to highlight the lack of government in out country. This current mob of bullies and frauds is the worst we have ever seen and really is awake up call for us. Agree with setting up of a fund for this man's family and I hope dawn will do this and there should be a probe into his death and those guilty should be given capital punishment.
Dec 30, 2011 07:51pm
A day of sorrow and deep concern, we indeed need a comprehensive law for protection of witnesses. I also admire Sana for oftenly highlighting the most relevant issues as to common people.
Dec 30, 2011 08:12pm
Is it a surprise that most doctors leave Pakistan. I am a doctor but born in the UK and lived here all my life. My sister is a doctor and so is my brother. My other brother is a dentist. I would not dream of going back to Pakistan - although I regard it as my original motherland. My condolences to Baqir Shah's family - may Allah grant him Paradise. May Allah send a pestilence to rid Pakistan of the evil and vile creatures that live there!
Dec 30, 2011 08:43pm
Time for new institutions. Ignore the current power structure and start over with local, accountable, democratic government. Too ambitious, you say? Crazy, you say? Read the Mayflower Compact. If a couple of dozen Englishmen could do it 400 years ago, what's to stop Pakistanis from doing it today?
Dec 30, 2011 08:53pm
Dr Shah RIP . You proved your worth unfortunately for a worthloss nation.
Dec 30, 2011 08:56pm
May Allah(SWT) rest his soul in peace.
Husain Jan
Dec 30, 2011 10:08pm
No word of condolence from any govt word of any praise for Shaheed Baqir Shah for being steadfast and giving correct autopsy report despite pressure. Who says it is a country for masses The fact is this country is for powerful only. May Allah save our beloved country and help its masses Aameen
kamaljit Singh
Dec 30, 2011 10:13pm
Yes , I could not agree more. A trust should be established to honor the courage, conviction and steadfastness. I salute Dr Shah. May God bless him with peace and help to flourish his tribe. We need many more Dr Baqir Shahs.
Dec 30, 2011 11:36pm
I was absolutely saddened and shattered listening the news of Dr. Baqir Shah's cold blooded murder. How easy it has become to take a human being's life in our country. He was earlier tortured for telling the truth and now killed in cold blood. Shocking and most unfortunate to say the least. May God give every Pakistani the courage to stand for the truth like Dr. Baqir Shah. I hope his killers will face justice soon.
kamaljit Singh
Dec 30, 2011 11:38pm
The story made my eyes wet.
abid ali
Dec 30, 2011 11:41pm
Undoubtedly God will reward Mr. Baqir Shah.
Dec 30, 2011 11:59pm
Great man died with dignity...this incident just remind me a famous saying by great Tipu Sultan, To live a day like a tiger is far more precious than living a hundred years like a jackal.
Dec 31, 2011 12:34am
Seeing the picture of this shot women with raised hand still brings tears to my eyes. Dr. Shah May Allah grant you Jannat.
Dec 31, 2011 12:42am
Dr Baqir Shaheed gave his life while staying with the truth in-spite having death threats and pressure from high officials.This is Mourning for the whole nation.
parveez uk
Dec 31, 2011 01:39am
Most people don't hate Indians or Pakistanis.It is our governments that have been feeding us this hate. My best friend is Indian, and most of my friend are Indians. We need to tell our government enough is enough.
parveez uk
Dec 31, 2011 01:41am
Please do I will contribute for sure.
Dec 31, 2011 01:50am
Dr.Shah has got riddance of the constant torture of this very very unfair world. May Allah he begin a new life in which there is no regrets of the past and fear of the future.
Doc from US
Dec 31, 2011 02:47am
It is indeed ghastly. There must be justice!
Dec 31, 2011 03:03am
May Allah save our beloved country from our security Agencies and help its masses. Aameen.
Dec 31, 2011 09:04am
Its a shame that after more then 60+ years of independence Pakistan has become a failed state no system or organisation is working properly including armed forces -This country only growing in population and one day implode due to failure of its own cause
Dec 31, 2011 10:07am
I solute Dr. Baqir Shah for his bravery and steadfasness. But where is our Chief Justice of Pakistan?
Dec 31, 2011 10:54am
Hats off to Sana Saleem for writing and highlighting this incident in such an effective way. I have no words in appreciation of Baqir Shah. He did what others can not even think to do. People like us will never forget you. It looks Supreme court to opposition are worry for just piece of paper. Is memo case above than precious lives of innocent people specially people of Balochistan. But all have closed their eyes to facts. This fact is not hidden. At the end of this year we lost the brave man as we lost at the start of this year. These incidents not just deprive us from brave and honest men but also stop others not to take these kinds of steps.
Dec 31, 2011 11:46am
justice denied!
Mir Mohammad Ali Tal
Dec 31, 2011 02:07pm
Dr. Baqir Shah's bravery and steadfastness for truth ended in tragedy for him and his family. Those who commit these crimes sit smugly because they know that the state in spite of knowing who these culprits are will not dare to touch them. Dr. Baqir Shah isn't the first victim and will not be the last one either.In Balochistan it open season for all upholders of rights and truth.
Dr.AbuBakar Malik
Dec 31, 2011 03:44pm
The terrorists have once again killed a true brave Pakistani and human being who stood up against the injustices, lawlessness and tyranny of our much flawed political system. I wish his murder would have got the attention of the Human Rights Activists or of our "leaders" who seem to be busy as always playing musical chairs and blame games in the Parliament. He is a true Shaheed (martyr) unlike our so many political and military shaheeds. If we dont stand up for truth and justice then we shall suffer the same fate as Dr.Baqirs' and Pakistan is doomed
Dharmebdra Goel
Dec 31, 2011 04:12pm
D. Goel Panchkula, december31, 2011.4.55pm, It is very agonising to read of killing of Brave commander of Frontier Corps BAkirShah by terrorists while attendingto his duties. Itis time thatthelawless terrorist who make thelives of a very largesection ofPeople in Balochistan under constant threat of unmerited killing or maiming is stampedout with firmest measures by thestate Forces , without delay. Democracy must be protected from lawless rebels or pirates.D. Goel
Dec 31, 2011 04:25pm
I salute the sacrifice of Dr. shah.I was greatly moved to read the circumstances in which he had landed himself.I pray for eternal peace to the departed soul.
Dec 31, 2011 04:55pm
We salute the courage and bravery of Late Dr Baqir and will always remember him in our prayers.
Dec 31, 2011 06:41pm
Brave yes. . But he should have taken asylum elsewhere the day he was attacked a few months ago. The media got as story. People reading newspapers are no longer shocked. The police don't care. The country sighs and moves on. All he got was callous death. All is family are left with are memories.
Dec 31, 2011 07:04pm
A very sad and tragic end to the life of a talented Pakistani doctor. Gone are the days when the justice ruled supreme in the Land of Pure. Its free for all society that we live in now. When protectors become law-breaker where should the helpless and law-abiding citizens look to. May god bless the departed soul of Dr. Baqar Shah.
Khurram Mansoor
Dec 31, 2011 07:22pm
When ever I see this picture. My blood boils iwth anger and brain paralyses with disgust. i want the culprits to be punished.
Dec 31, 2011 08:15pm
I wish Dr. Shah, the rutbah, of a shaheed because he died as a truthful human being who knew the cost of truth in this gutless and thankless society.
bashir jan
Dec 31, 2011 09:25pm
we don,t understand what is going on in it a part of great game we are facing here? every one is fearful to be true.
Dec 31, 2011 10:49pm
This is how immortality looks like; He is a true SHAHEED and he has to be praised for us to Live; There has to be a tweeter a reaction on face book, news feeds anything. Anyone and Everyone out there if there was a moment of Nishan-e-Hyder there is no one else more deserving then Dr Baqir Shah. Dr Shah you are the Hero of Everyone out there in the world standing up for injustice, you are the beckon of Hope. I salute you, my nation salutes u and this is the proof how alive you are in all of us….
Dec 31, 2011 11:40pm
I agree with S Patel. We are so much similar than why we are seperate? Pakistan and the north Indians are very much identical. This boundary between two families have brought nothing but misery to the people residing there, and enriched the Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumans of the world.
Jan 01, 2012 12:36am
OK, who do you think these people are? Is it the police, ISI, the Frontier Corps, some Baluch group, the Taliban, RAW or Mossad? Let us not talk in riddles. The truth has to come out. The whole nation needs to know who is committing murders in our country each and every day and getting away with it.
Jan 01, 2012 07:54am
I am disappointed to see that very few people have praised Dr. Baqir shah for his bravery. He was a brave person who spoke truth to power. This is a serious issue and the murderers who obstruct justice must be punished. Hope judiciary takes notice of this instead of that stupid memo.
Omer Farooq
Jan 01, 2012 12:55pm
Inaalilahe wa inahe ilaihirajiooon!!! May ALLAH TAALA elevate the brave man and give his family spiritual and worldly rewards and blessings.
Naseem Altaf
Jan 01, 2012 01:47pm
Only writing comments will not do much good . You (and ME) got to wake up. Let us make a determination :firstly that we shall never never do injustice to anybody whosoever;and secondly that we shall fearlessly, fight on each occasion , on each front ,always, against the forces of Injustice,bigotry, violence,dictatorship. If we fail to act , unitedly and honestly , someday it will be my turn and then your turn .
S. A. M.
Jan 01, 2012 02:00pm
Dear Patel, What you have written is what is expected of a good neighbour. But i would agree with Pratul to an extent. India has definitely made huge progress in many aspects and yes there is no comparison between the two economies (of India and Pakistan). What I would not agree with Pratul is that most of the pakistani youth is busy in safeguarding its version of islam. Although there are people in Pakistan that agree on killing themselves for fetting heaven the majority of our youth want to study get a good job get married have children and have good life. this is in complete harmony with the objectives that your own youth would be trying to accomplish though in a very conducive environment unlike their pakistani counterparts.
Jan 01, 2012 11:47pm
The truth is very very clear. All you need to do is open your eyes.
Mukhtiar Bhutto
Jan 02, 2012 05:45am
Yes, I do agree this brave man deserve a Nishan-e-Hyder how ever this seems tiny in respect to the job he did.
Jan 02, 2012 06:56am
all humanity is murdered, We all need to change for better, Justice for all injustice for none.
Jan 02, 2012 12:30pm
May Allah grant dr.shah eternal happiness in paradise.indeed he stood up for the innocent.Before this incident we all thought there were no Dr.Shah's but this incident has negated this line of thinking.And we all know who has done this if they think they will live forever then good luck to them indeed a terrible fate awaits them in their grave and in the hearafter.And may their arrogance make them the most reviled people of the earth.