KARACHI: Former Karachi police chief Shahid Hayat Khan passed away at a private hospital on Tuesday after a prolonged illness, his family and hospital sources confirmed. He was 54.

They said that one of the most senior officers of the police services group had been suffering from cancer for the last couple of years. He went through a critical condition in 2016 as well when he fell victim to double pneumonia while on a training course in Nairobi, Kenya, during his posting at the Federal Investigation Agency as its director (South). He was lately posted in the Motorway Police as their deputy inspector general.

He served as the Karachi police chief from September 2013 to October 2014. Generally seen as a straightforward police official, Mr Hayat had many high-profile cases to his credit. Within the police force he was regarded as an officer who did not succumb to political pressure. However, it was his alleged involvement in the Mir Murtaza Bhutto murder case — a charge that was never proved — that kept him in the news for a long time.

The deadly encounter took place in September 1996 and, 17 years on, Mr Hayat was made additional inspector general of police (AIGP), Karachi range. He was a commissioned assistant superintendent of police with just five years in service when the unfortunate incident occurred.

Mir Murtaza Bhutto with his seven companions was killed in the alleged police encounter near 70 Clifton on Sept 20, 1996. The then Clifton SHO, Haq Nawaz Sial, had filed an FIR of the case the same night against Mr Bhutto’s companions.

Mr Hayat was among the police officials accused of being involved in the murder of Mr Bhutto and his companions in a ‘fake encounter’ in another FIR lodged by Noor Mohammad, an aide of the late Mr Bhutto. The other accused in the case included Shoaib Suddle, Wajid Durrani, Shakib Qureshi, Rai Tahir and Masood Sharif.

After a trial that continued for 13 years, an additional district and sessions judge in December 2009 acquitted all the accused.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2019