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Profile: the militant both party and state used

Updated May 12, 2015

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Mirza had no idea that those who recorded his statement would also let him down in the same manner as his party had done. —Nazir Shah
Mirza had no idea that those who recorded his statement would also let him down in the same manner as his party had done. —Nazir Shah

When Saulat Ali Khan, aka Saulat Mirza, accused the Muttahida Qaumi Movement of “using workers like him as tissue paper” in a video statement aired by news channels on March 18, he perhaps had no idea that those who recorded his statement would also let him down in the same manner as his party had done.

Mirza is scheduled to be hanged at Balochistan’s Machh prison in the early hours of Tuesday after having twice escaped hanging since his March 18 video statement.

Take a look: Saulat Mirza executed at Balochistan's Machh Jail

Most people, including his family members, believed that the state would commute his death sentence into life imprisonment after his “startling disclosures” that MQM supremo Altaf Hussain had allegedly ordered the killing of then managing director of the Karachi Electric Supply Company Shahid Hamid.

But the government and the powers that be did nothing more than order the formation of a joint investigation team, which inquired into the matter and concluded that his disclosures did not constitute any “actionable intelligence or cogent evidence” and indirectly recommended to the authorities that there was no need to postpone the hanging.

Crucially enough, the JIT did not even touch on the legality or otherwise of the recording of a statement by the death row prisoner hours before his scheduled execution apparently in the death cell of the Machh jail.

Little information is available about Mirza, his personal life as well as the “work” he did when he was associated with the MQM.

He was a resident of North Nazimabad’s Block S and studied at the nearby Pakistan Shipowners College.

Over 40, Saulat Mirza, who has spent about 17 years in prison since his arrest in 1998, was not a known figure in the MQM until 1995.

“No one knew Mirza until Faheem Farooqi [better known as Faheem Commando] got arrested in 1995 and described him as his right-hand man,” recalled an MQM office-bearer, who did not want to be named.

He said Mirza loved playing cricket in the area and although he was a supporter of the MQM, then called the Mohajir Qaumi Movement, he was not its worker. He became a changed man after he was arrested and tortured in police custody in 1993, he added.

Soon his name became a symbol of terror in Karachi, as police booked him in almost every terrorism case, including attacks on police stations, killing of policemen, rocket attacks, that took place in 1995-96.

He reportedly fled the country during the Karachi operation in the second tenure of the Benazir Bhutto-led PPP government. He returned home after then president Farooq Leghari dismissed the PPP government and dissolved the assemblies in Nov 1996.

On July 5, 1997, gunmen shot dead then KESC managing director Shahid Hamid, his driver, and a guard in Defence Housing Authority. In December 1998, police arrested Mirza at Karachi airport on his arrival from Bangkok.

He was sentenced to death in 1999 in the Shahid Hamid murder case and his appeals against conviction were rejected by the superior judiciary.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2015

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