ISLAMABAD: The Senate Human Rights Committee which met here on Tuesday opposed a presidential pardon for the convicted Rangers personnel who killed a young man in Karachi in 2011.
Sarfaraz Shah, 22, was killed by the Rangers personnel at point-blank range in June 2011, in an incident caught on camera outside a public park in Karachi. One of the Rangers’ men was sentenced to death for firing the fatal shot while the five others were handed down life imprisonment.
While the Presidency has denied granting pardon to the Rangers personnel, the issue came up when Senator Farhatullah Babar asked for permission to discuss ‘any other item with the permission of the chairperson’ after conclusion of the meeting’s agenda.
“This is an unacceptable affront to the human rights of victims and their families. It is a licence to uniformed personnel to brandish guns and kill innocent people at will and with impunity,” he said.
Mr Babar said it was not easy to erase the image of a terrified Sarfaraz Shah pleading his innocence with folded hands and the sadistic pleasure writ on the face of the shooter. “The shameful image will continue to shake conscience even in a distant age and distant clime,” he said.
A presidential pardon for the criminals would only make the shameful image more horrifying and a cruel joke with the family members of the victim, he said.
Mr Babar said a pardon without the consent of the victim’s family would further embolden personnel of law enforcing agencies to take the law into their hands at will and with impunity.
“It will be a monumental pity if President Mamnoon Hussain left behind a highly dubious legacy — that “criminals and convicts who once wore uniforms are a breed apart from criminals who have never worn uniform”. This legacy would turn the already broken criminal justice system on its head, he warned.
All members of the committee invited by the chairperson to express their views denounced the move and demanded that a powerful message be sent across in the form of a unanimous resolution against pardoning the criminals.
Condemning the killing of Sarfaraz six years ago, chairperson of the Human Rights committee Senator Nasreen Jalil of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement described the pardon a monumental tragedy.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Senator Samina Abid said that the image of Sarfaraz Shah’s killing brought tears to her eyes. Senator Sehar Kamran described the murder of the boy as an extrajudicial killing.
“I worry for my children whenever I recalled the scenes of the young boy begging for forgiveness,” said Sehar Kamran.
Minister of State for Human Rights Barrister Usman Ibrahim endorsed the sentiments of the members, saying that the subject was dealt with by the interior ministry and that he would take it up with it.
Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2018