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Challenging the norm: Shahzeb case convictions

June 08, 2013

IN Pakistan the norm is that the rich and well connected operate as though they are above the law. That is why the sentencing in the Shahzeb Khan murder case is significant. On Friday, an anti-terrorism court in Karachi handed down the death sentence to Shahrukh Jatoi, the main accused, along with Siraj Talpur; the convicts’ families have said they will appeal the sentence. The case made headlines and sparked outrage across the country when young Shahzeb Khan was murdered in December last year after getting into an argument with one of the convicts’ servants, who had reportedly been harassing the victim’s sister. While this newspaper does not support capital punishment, justice has run its course and was not perverted by power and influence. For the impartial dispensation of justice in Pakistan all those who break the law — regardless of their connections or financial might — must be held responsible.

The conviction should also renew the debate on young people — and their handlers — carrying guns in urban Pakistan. Due to the weaponisation of society and the proliferation of armed private guards, schoolyard brawls and rivalries — that in the past usually resulted in cuts and bruises — can today end up with the loss of life. In a case similar to that of Shahzeb, another young man, Hamza Ahmed, lost his life in April when he was reportedly gunned down by an equally young rival’s guard in Karachi over a petty dispute. There needs to be introspection, especially within the upper and upper-middle classes in Pakistan, specifically regarding the value of human life. Pulling out a gun is no way to resolve an argument. This is something parents need to realise and communicate to their children and associated persons — drivers, guards, domestic staff etc.