Unequal justice

Published April 6, 2022

RECENT developments in the Nazim Jokhio murder case have raised serious concerns that some elements within the PPP-led Sindh government might be trying to influence the outcome of the investigation. According to reports, the Sindh Police have refused a request by the provincial home department to replace the investigation officer in the case with someone who is “competent, neutral and unbiased”. This follows a video message by the murdered Nazim Jokhio’s wife Shirin Jokhio, who ‘pardoned’ the accused as no one stood by her in her quest for justice. Jokhio’s tortured body was found last November at the farmhouse of PPP MPA Jam Awais in Malir, Karachi. While the accused MPA surrendered to the police, another parliamentarian, MNA Abdul Karim Bijar, also accused of involvement in the murder, left the country soon after being booked in the case. He returned last week to obtain pre-arrest bail, after which he joined the National Assembly session that was supposed to vote on the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan. Meanwhile, reports have surfaced that the chief complainant in the case, Afzal Jokhio, the brother of the deceased, has disclosed that the family might reach an out-of-court settlement with the accused through a jirga to be held later this week.

These events paint an unflattering picture of the PPP government in Sindh. Even as it rightly protests the PTI’s violation of the Constitution in the National Assembly last Sunday, the PPP would do well to reflect on the larger principles of justice and equality that the same document upholds. Unfortunately, the Jokhio case follows an unfortunate pattern; there are many examples where PPP leaders have been involved in parallel justice forums like jirgas, where those accused of crime, and with links to the party, have obtained favourable results. In fact, last year in July, a court in Dadu issued notices to several feudal lords, including former and present federal and provincial lawmakers of the PPP, for holding or presiding over illegal jirgas. Meanwhile, last month, scores of people demanded punishment for two PPP MPAs and others accused in a triple murder case. The PPP leadership in all sincerity cannot claim to be fighting for democracy while protecting black sheep in its own ranks. The party needs to prove that it stands for the rule of law by ensuring the strictest punishment for those of its members who harm the very people they are supposed to represent.

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2022

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