"Despite political pressures, I uphold merit in terms of admissions," the principal of Law College Quetta, Barrister Amanullah Achakzai, had recently told the media. Two weeks later, on June 8, the principled educationist was shot dead.
Unknown assailants sprayed his vehicle with bullets and fled the scene. He succumbed to his wounds while he was being taken to Civil Hospital Quetta. Doctors say he was shot at eight times.
Clearly, the slain barrister was a loved man. On a warm evening, long queues of vehicles and crowds of people can be seen in streets of Killi Tarkha, a marginalised neighbourhood of Quetta, and home to late Amanullah.
The house is indicative of his humble beginnings. Loved ones recall that Amanullah ended up from here to the University of London for higher studies only because of his sheer dedication.
A rare light in dark times
Overcome with grief and anger Hazart Umar, Amanullah’s brother, remembers him as a beacon of light. “They killed a man who was spreading knowledge in this backward part of the country,” he says as his voice cracks.
Amanullah’s students concur. Muhammad Rafiq Sherani remembers him as an amazing teacher who would motivate students to maximise their potential.
Amanullah didn’t always have it easy. While he was studying in Karachi, he lived in the oft-troubled neighbourhood of Lyari. Perhaps this is why he was compassionate and supportive of needy and deserving students.
He joins an unfortunately long list of educationists who have been killed in Balochistan in the recent past. Professor Fazal Bari, Professor Kayani, Professor Saba Dashtyari, Professor Nazima Talib and others also lost their lives in various incidents of targeted killings.
Owing to these security concerns, a large number of professors, lecturers and schoolteachers have migrated from Balochistan.
Call for justice
The legal fraternity has had enough. They stress that justice must be served for a man who spent his life upholding the law.
A large number of legal practitioners, including the Chief Justice of Balochistan reached the Civil Hospital after their colleague’s body was brought there. The demonstration later moved outside the Governor House Quetta, with the protestors demanding the immediate arrests of culprits.
Governor and Chief Minister of Balochistan condemned the incident, asking the provincial police chief for a report.
However, chances of a successful inquiry are slim; killers who have similarly gunned down other educationists in Balochistan remain at large.
The legal system must act for these senseless killings to end, believes Amanullah’s brother. “I know that my brother will not come back with the arrest of the killers, but this process of taking innocent lives must come to a stop.”