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KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Monday reserved its verdict in the case pertaining to the murder of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Zahra Shahid in 2013.

Four detained accused — Mohammad Rashid alias Master, Zahid Abbas Zaidi, Irfan alias Lamba and Kaleem — said to be associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) along with their absconding accomplices have been charged with killing the PTI leader on the eve of re-polling on Karachi’s National Assembly constituency, NA-250.

On Monday, the matter came up before the ATC-XVII judge for hearing the final arguments from the prosecution and defence.

The judge, who is conducting the trial in the judicial complex inside the central prison, wrapped up the proceedings and reserved order after both sides advanced final arguments.

Four persons associated with MQM have been charged with killing the PTI leader

The court fixed Aug 31 for pronouncement of the order in the case almost five years after the incident took place. Earlier, final arguments could not be recorded on Saturday, as the judge was on leave.

In the last hearing, the defence had rested its side after producing four of its witnesses, who recorded their testimonies in favour of the accused.

Earlier, the four detained men had recorded their statements on Aug 2, as required under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), denying their alleged involvement in the murder.

In their final arguments, the defence counsel — Latif Pasha and Javed Ahmed Chattari — said that their clients were innocent, having nothing to do with the offence alleged.

They contended that the detained men belonged to the MQM, thus they were framed in the case on the basis of political rivalry.

They further argued that all the detained men were picked up by law enforcement agencies days after the alleged murder took place and their families had petitioned the Sindh High Court over their detention.

The defence also mentioned that the four defence witnesses, including relatives of the detained men and others, had deposed before the court that the law enforcers took them into custody from their homes or workplaces, which was witnessed by many people.

In July, the prosecution had rested its side in the case after examining around 15 prosecution witnesses in the case.

Claiming their innocence, the defence counsel pleaded to acquit all the accused of the charges levelled by the prosecution, which had made a concocted and false case against them.

The police claimed to have arrested Rashid in an illicit weapons case on Sept 25, 2013.

The prosecution claimed that during interrogations he had confessed to his involvement in the case of the PTI leader. Later, the police arrested Zahid Abbas Zaidi on Oct 2, 2013.

Ms Shahid, a senior leader of the PTI, was shot dead outside her house in the Defence Housing Authority on May 18, 2013.

A case was registered under Sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 at the Gizri police station.

In the investigation report, the investigating officer had shown Junaid Bukhari, Tariq Nawab and Asif alias Ganja as absconders.

According to the report, the prosecution witnesses included a driver of the slain leader, who had rightly picked out both suspects during an identification parade before a magistrate.

Hours after the veteran party leader was shot dead, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Imran Khan had blamed the MQM for her murder.

After five years of staunch rivalry, both the political parties dramatically inched closer to each other to form a political alliance, as MQM-Pakistan signed an agreement with the newly formed federal government of the PTI to lend support for election of Mr Khan as the country’s 22nd prime minister.

Witnesses testify in Baldia factory fire case

An antiterrorism court on Monday recorded statements of eight of the prosecution witnesses in a case pertaining to the Baldia factory fire in which over 250 workers had perished.

The witnesses, who were relatives of some of the victims, recorded their testimonies.

They deposed that most of the bodies of the victims could not be identified, as they were charred beyond recognition. The witnesses burst into tears and became emotional, as they mentioned the horrifying scenes on the fateful day when their loved ones were caught inside the allegedly locked premises of the ill-fated garments manufacturing unit.

After recording testimonies, the ATC-VI judge, who is conducting trial in the judicial complex inside the central prison, summoned other witnesses on Sept 1 to record their statements.

In the meanwhile, the court allowed an application moved on behalf of MQM-P leader Abdul Rauf Siddiqui seeking exemption from his personal appearance before the court since he was travelling abroad in connection with his business.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2018