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Wasting away, extra judicially

Published Jun 13, 2011 01:28pm


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Protesters shout slogans while holding an effigy, representing the Pakistani Rangers paramilitary forces, during a protest against the killing of an unarmed man in Karachi June 11, 2011. – Reuters Photo

Yet another young man lost his life in what has become a norm in Pakistan – extrajudicial killings – and chances are that like previous incidents of such killings, the perpetrators of this crime will go free as well. It is not just a random speculation of a bitter citizen, there is hard evidence supporting this claim.

Before Sarfaraz Shah, the 19 year old who was shot point blank by soldiers of Sindh Rangers, a paramilitary force, in Karachi on June 8, two teenage brothers Mughees and Muneeb were lynched by a mob – including policemen in uniforms – in Sialkot last year. 17 men were arrested, with most of them out on bail.

It must be noted that before the video of this gruesome murder came out, Sindh Rangers claimed that Sarfaraz Shah was killed during an encounter after he was caught red handed snatching cash from visitors in the park. When the Rangers officials entered the park, the young man fired at them.

On the contrary, the video footage showed an unarmed young man being shot dead at a very close range by one of the five Rangers personnel who all have a weapon of some kind in their hand. Sarfaraz was seen pleading for his life and was shot at in full public view.

Mr Rehman Malik was at pains to point out that Shah was a petty criminal – as if it justifies the cold blooded murder – likewise, brothers Mughees and Muneeb too were accused of committing robberies. The District Coordination Officer (DCO) Sialkot, Mujahid Sher Dil, later confirmed that the lynched youths had no criminal record. With exception of the cell phone theft case and attack on Sindh rangers personnel case filed against him on the day of his death, Sarfaraz Shah, too had no criminal record. Even if he was a thief and was apprehended by the law enforcement authorities, why was he not taken to a local police station, why was he shot dead? Surely the law enforcement agency personnel must know that theft cannot be penalised by death in Pakistan Penal Code.

Some of the apologists were at pains to point out that the soldier was right in shooting at the victim as he was trying to touch his gun and he is legally permitted to shoot at anyone who tries to get hold of his weapon during a confrontation. They also said that the Rangers official did the right thing and shot the victim in the leg, as stipulated in the law. But one must ask under what law they left him to bleed to death when he was begging them to take him to the hospital.

Those who cite the rights of the paramilitary forces should also remember that ordinary citizens, those who do not wear any uniform and actually pay for the salaries of the armed forces personnel also have some rights – at least the most basic right to live.

Just like these two incidents, five Chechens were killed in Kharotabad Quetta last month. Officials initially claimed the five were suicide bombers, but they turned out to be unarmed and video of the shooting further undercut their claim. So far no one has been apprehended and the inquiry is still deciding if it was the police or the Frontier Constabulary that opened fire at the Chechens who were traveling with just bottles of shampoo in their bags.

New York based Human Rights Watch has documented the extrajudicial execution of up to 300 alleged Taliban supporters and sympathisers in Swat. Despite the fact that several videos have come out detailing those brutalities, no action has been taken against the armed forces to date.

The less said about Balochistan, the better. Parts of the province have become killing fields of late. Not a day pass by when one or two bullet riddled bodies are found on the roadsides.  Since 2010 approximately 140 political activists, journalists, academics and students were killed in extrajudicial killings.

Citizens have what social theorists call a social contract with their governments. Under that social contract people form states and maintain social order. The notion of the social contract implies that the people give up some rights to a government or other authority in order to receive or maintain social order. The citizens pay taxes with which government is suppose to finance their security and provide them with an environment which is conducive to their well being and ensure systematic access to livelihood. Forget about other rights, this incident shows that every day in Pakistan, the right to life of the people is made a mockery of by the people who are supposed to keep them safe.

Civilian government is apathetic to the woes of the people, armed forces have learned nothing from the fiasco of Bangladesh and are carrying out atrocities against their own citizens and the superior court is busy taking suo moto actions against actresses for possession of alcohol and dishing out verdicts on TV channels and their broadcasting rights, access to justice has become an unattainable fantasy for most citizens of the country. The incident got so much coverage because it happened in Karachi. Imagine what goes on in Balochistan where there is no one to challenge or raise voice against such carnage. This continued deprivation of justice will expedite our cataclysmic descent into chaos and the killing fields of Pakistan will remain bloody because some animals are more equal than the other.

Tazeen Javed is a communications specialist, a blogger and a free lance writer.

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Comments (32) Closed

Khalid Jun 13, 2011 07:16pm
I agree that waiting for the victim to die makes them all accomplices to the crime of murder even if the initial intention was not that, although firing twice makes that doubtful. The callousness seen on the video towards a heavily bleeding and dying human being is uncanny. One would think they would be anxious about saving the life of the boy. The attitude suggests that this was no more than a routine event for them and they must be doing this frequently. No way could it be the first time-it is just the first time on video. The most important question raised is how can human beings become like that? What were the processes of schooling, training etc. these people underwent to develop such a disregard for life? This will not stop by taking account of one incident no matter the manner. It can only stop when we have understood the underlying causes and removed them. This cannot be a quick process as I am sure these people did not become calm killers in a day.
salman Jun 13, 2011 07:28pm
who is the next one might b me or you
Ted Mark Ali Jun 13, 2011 08:21pm
@ Khalid, my friend I disagree, there is a very simple solution. Follow the Islamic laws! for starters publically hang the killers of brothers Mughees and Muneeb, the rangers involved in killing of Sarfaraz Shah and the FFC personals involved the killing in Kharotabad Quetta. Hang this bunch of 20 or so people in public on media and see the immediate effect seeping through the ranks of Pakistani forces. Next time when they are going to pull the trigger or lash an innocent kid, the image of themselves hanging in front of their family and friends should come to their mind.
Usman Shahid Jun 13, 2011 10:06pm
Today a security person was shot and killed in karachi, why media do not write and makes program on him, was he not human, didn't he had the family.
sami Jun 13, 2011 10:10pm
This is the Pakistan we are talking about right now,we grew up in a country where we never even imagined 15 years ago,that life is going to be that cheap on the hands of criminals who kill just for a mobile phone or by security,who kills unarmed person in broad day light on point blank.we have seen the productive role of our great military,tested & used political parties,which are still in power.I think its time to chose some one right to lead our nation & save the future of our country is 21 century.
MJaffery Jun 13, 2011 10:45pm
Thank you, Khalid, for such an insightful and rational comment on the matter and the subject. This is one of the better/best ones I have come across in our country. I feel absolved of not writing any. May the people who (will) matter read and heed this. Aameen.
Justice for all Jun 14, 2011 12:25am
Some people who condone this voilence following the establishment lines must read the following. He This murder was pre meditated and He was not a criminal.
Syed W. Ali Jun 14, 2011 01:29am
Hmmm... Where are the hari paghri and kali paghri flag bearer's of Islam while these human rights violations are being committed? Where are the Jamaati's and the Tablighi's? Where are the Maulana's and the Mullah's? Isn't Huqooq-ul-Ibad the first right before Huqooq-ul-llah? Oh no, "hum Pakistani hein", we wear Islam like a garment though in practice, we are masters at violating the word of God and more.
DKM Jun 14, 2011 01:51am
This is what the enemies of Pakistan want, difference between people and the military and other forces. This is how they want to start the same type of violent protest as it is going on in Syria and Libya. It's all the part of a Big Game.
shahid Jun 14, 2011 01:52am
There is always solution for every problem but if one does not want to resolve then what God can do. Pakistan really need an honest, intelligent, bold and strict leader who can guide Pakistan on right path and pull people out from these troubles. This will happen soon. Inshallah.
yours truly Jun 14, 2011 02:58am
what is there to speculate about their thinking and education, schooling ? must have been madrassa.
fozia niazi Jun 14, 2011 09:15am
you are wrong Tazeen, we do not have any rights .we are a concord people by the uniform personals who till 14th August 1947 were saluting the Union jack and the very Next day were saluting another type of flage and became the "CUSTODIAN" of that very piece of land where our incestors and we unfortunately live.we are not paying taxes, its ransom or protection money because we do not have sophisticated weaponary like they have and we are not united. Do this Gen. Kayani or his band of Corpse commanders ever said a word like the said to the people of this land ( i don't call it a country as country has citizens and citizens have rights, whihc we do not have) in the press release issued after thier meeting , to even the lowest grade official of the power ful states, NO and that only because those nations have advanced weapons and this band of Generals know that. They are those who belive " Some people respect Law but every one respect the Gun".
Syed Din M Shah Jun 14, 2011 12:45pm
You know wats the problem with media, it alows every 1 to say without distinction of right or wrong or effects, ie. writer! one f9 morning he wrote this all emotional speech without geting a balance of ideas to propagate a such news for welfare and betterment as a whole..... Plz dont try to be philosophers ,every1 go and do ur part of duties and then comment some 1 else. Thanks
lightning Jun 14, 2011 01:29pm
we would really like to hear a denial of ANY of these incidents. the sad fact is, as much as u call a single piece of such news as 'conspiracy', the fact remains that Sarfaraz Shah was killed in broad day light, that Baluchistan has indeed become a killing field for our so-called custodians, that extra judicial killings have been taking place in Karachi during protests and in other ways too. and not to mention, Saleem Shehzad too, is no more in this world. why criticise media when all they are doing is telling the blatant truth? truth hurts, but no point in denying it.
Sejal Jun 14, 2011 01:41pm
You are absolutely right Ali, for now its the only solution to stop this immediately, but for long term, their training and background should also be checked so that no more such kind of people are made in pakistan.Mr. Khalid is also right, "prhez ilaj se behtr hai.."
Sejal Jun 14, 2011 01:45pm
EXACTLY! this is an immediate solution to stop immediate acts...
tratior Jun 14, 2011 01:45pm
must be...lolzzz...coz we n our media prevailing that notion frequently. ....ah...wake up...plzz
usman Jun 14, 2011 03:35pm
the mullas and molvis don't interfere in this kind of matters...the tabhligis are nt a party..they just convey a msg...better think before writing man...don't bring Islam in all this nonsense...Islam says to pray 5 times daily... tell me how much Pakistanis go to the mosque...97% Muslims approx.. but still the masjid seems almost empty,.. ppl should nt downgrade this great religion ,having no reason behind
usman Jun 14, 2011 03:41pm
as the qaud said ... military and rangers are to prtect u ..they must stay on the borders ..protect u from evil...and must not approach the government !!
Salman Khalid Jun 14, 2011 04:07pm
Mr Shah i think you should listen to youself.
iqra Jun 14, 2011 07:03pm
Even if the brutally murdered boy by the rangers was a petty criminal according to rehman malik i want to ask him what right does he have to even mention this thing...wouldn't he be doing the same thing if he was a poor and jobless kid living in a country where people are generally living below poverty line and the country itself is ruled by far bigger robbers and thieves who have absolutely no fear of any kind of being caught or held accountable...oh how i wish these rangers could be gunned down publicly exactly the same way as the poor boy, begging for mercy. Let me tell you if a country can not provide a decent living to its citizens has no absolutely no right to judge its people as thieves and robbers and let them get gunned down unarmed by the ranger police!!!
Jawad Jun 14, 2011 07:53pm
I think the people of Pakistan really need to stand up against this kind of behavior.. What happened in that video is disgusting. To that person in this thread suggesting that it's a conspiracy and a big game to put people against te military should use his head before he talks. A young man was murdered in cold blood by rangers I wonder if u would say what u said if it was your loved one. Those rangers should be killed the same way.. The people of Pakistan deserve better then this.. The police and government is bleeding you all dry and no one does anything. They are supposed to protect you and now u need protection from them? It's so disturbing that a Muslim can get to a point where Ge can gun down a innocent brother who is begging for his life.
Humayun Jun 14, 2011 09:07pm
I really don't think this is a media problem. I commend the individual who video taped this incident and released it to the media. In the absence of this evidence we would never know that this happened. Now, how in the world on God's earth can this happen in broad day light. This brings SHAME to the entire country. Let's assume for a minute that this guys was a criminal and was involved in a crime before his brutal death. Still......It does NOT...give the rangers any right to shoot. One unarmed men against six or seven rangers with weapons. They should have ordered to the ground with his hands behind his back, handcuffed him and taken him to nearby police station and booked accordingly. Shame on them
M. Wasim Jun 14, 2011 10:07pm
Islam is a way of life, not just a religion. It requires that all affairs of a Muslim from public to private be governed by Islamic rules and the Quran. Ever since Pakistan became a Islamic Republic, it made the Muslim "teachers" as advisers to leaders and the public in treating people the right way. It has everything to do with the Mullahs and the preachers. No one is demeaning Islam, just pointing out the hypocrisy and ignorance being carried out by the religious leaders in Pakistan. Perhaps they forget that one day they too have to answer for their silence. Islam requires that every Muslim should fight for the oppressed, become the voice of Justice, and equality. My dear brothers and sisters, oppression is not just the rich vs. poor, it is the oppression of ideas, the freedom to live and pursue one's desire, freedom of religion, and the right to live a peaceful life. Fih-Iman-Allah
sharma Jun 15, 2011 12:01am
Why are Rangers posted in the business capital of Pakistan? Cannot the local police handle the situation? This is the result of a political unrest and it has to be solved politically.And yes, though the religious parties have not spoken against it, it purse has nothing to do with religion. No religion preaches such behaviour. This is just a problem with discipline of the army and their training. Army cannot do police's job!!!!!!
Jayesh Jun 15, 2011 09:22am
The securityman was killed by criminals. Sarfaraz on the other hand, was killed by the very people who are supposed to provide security to the citizens.
Shawn khan Jun 15, 2011 10:04am
people of Pakistan kindly wakeup now, don't u think it's too much... Some day it will be u on news if u dont react, choose right people with in you... If some one from anp or mqm die they close down ur whole city How don't u close down now for some innocent die like this Wake up before it's too late Learn from these news before u will be news one day
Far Jun 15, 2011 11:48am
calm down! he is not downgrading Islam, he is only criticizing the followers. Stop frowning on every mention of Islam
sam Jun 15, 2011 01:49pm
Just praying five times is not the Islamic way of life. Most important is to ask for good and stop from wrong things thatz what Syed Ali wants to say.. Huqooq ul Ibad is important than Huqooq Allah..Its time to unite not fighting dear.
SHOAIB REHMAN Jun 15, 2011 02:52pm
pakistan ranger have been totally exposed by 11 june incident i think now is the time to take hard steps before these incidents cause more damage .................
Mohammad Ali Jun 15, 2011 03:47pm
Our Nation is like an orphan, and completely suppressed by series of unbreakable victimisation process by state. Recent rangers brutal attack on a civilian, shows that the poor and deprived nation who contributes huge amount in tax for their safety and security, is being spent on to do the barbarism upon them.
Falak Jun 15, 2011 04:09pm
But Shahid the question is, who is that leader? No Pakistani wants to join politics. Same politicians that were there for ages. How do we Pakistanis expect a change when we don't do anything for the country? I live in London, and let me just tell you, the next would be waging on Pakistan is this isn't sorted. No one likes Pakistan. The government is currupted, honor killings, murders, poverty and most of all, badmash people. Pakistan is to be doomed. And I'm not saying this because it's not true, I plan to join Politics one day because unlike you Pakistanis who comment on these things, I want to make a difference.