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Cold-blooded killing

Updated January 16, 2018


IN the landscape of present-day Pakistan, there is no dearth of gut-wrenching tragedies, many of them totally preventable. And some of these incidents stand out for their utter senselessness and brutality as a recent case in Karachi testifies.

On Saturday evening, in one of the city’s upmarket areas, a young man driving a car was flagged down by personnel of the Anti-Car Lifting Cell Unit. Police sources confirm that not only were the men in plain clothes, even their vehicles (two motorbikes and a car) had been privately registered.

It is no surprise that in this crime-ridden city, the driver did not stop; indeed, most citizens in a similar situation would not have guessed that their pursuers belonged to law enforcement; it is more likely that they would have believed them to be criminals attempting a hold-up. It is simply shocking that the ACLU personnel, who proceeded to chase the car, opened fire on the vehicle, shooting the driver — the barely adult Intizar Ahmed, an expatriate student who was in the city to spend his vacations with his family — in the head, killing him.

An astonishing 16 spent bullet casings fired from 9mm pistols were found on the scene; subsequently, some ACLU officials were detained, while others went missing.

Expressing his condolences to the bereaved family, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah offered to hold a judicial inquiry into the killing. While this can only be seen as a sop to the matter, the larger questions remain unanswered. When, according to the law, can law-enforcement personnel go under cover, and under what circumstances? And when is government-regulated security allowed to carry — and deploy — arms?

In developed countries, where the rule of law is strong, it is the norm for officers to identify themselves as such before expecting compliance from the citizens. In our case, SOPs are constantly being violated. This is unacceptable. Oversight is needed before further tragic incidents occur.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2018