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Pakistan: Youth Gets Justice After Video of Extra-Judicial Killing Emerged

On June 8, 2011, a 19 year old boy was shot dead at point blank by a Pakistan Rangers personnel in Karachi. Initial reports claimed that the armed youth was about to attack the security personnel and was subsequently killed. However, hours after the incident, Pakistani media flooded television screens with video footage which suggested that the youth was unarmed.

Kalsoom at CHUP blog broke the news:

On Wednesday, news outlets report that a young man was “brutally murdered” in an extrajudicial killing that took place in Benazir Park in Karachi. According to Express, the man was accused to be a “snatcher,” or a robber, and was arrested by police who then handed him over to Ranger personnel who cornered him and then shot him in the stomach, despite the man’s pleas. The man is reported to be a ‘matric’ (Editors Note: Secondary School Examination) student, as well as the brother of a Samaa television reporter, and he died on the spot.

Effigy of a Ranger officer hanging, seen during a protest against the extra judicial killing of Sarfaraz Shah. Image by Ayub Mohammad, copyright Demotix (11/06/2011).

Effigy of a Ranger officer hanging, seen during a protest against the extra judicial killing of Sarfaraz Shah. Image by Ayub Mohammad, copyright Demotix (11/06/2011).

Here's how Dr. Awab Alvi at Teeth Maestro expressed his outrage:

Words fail me, after I watched this video of a Sarfaraz Shah being shot down by our paramilitary law enforcement agency imparting justice in a mere ten seconds. Sarfaraz Shah was apparently brought to the Rangers checkpost positioned inside Benazir Bhutto Park across Boat Basin Karachi accused of holding a family hostage. A heated exchange of words between the two, with the alleged culprit pleading for mercy from the angered soldier requesting him to lower his gun – ends up in the soldier shooting two bullets into the abdomen of the victim, leaving him to bleed and ultimately Sarfaraz succumbs to death probably from excessive bleeding a few hours [?] later.

Ammar Yasir at TeaBreak.pk tweeted his reaction:

Just watched the Samaa footage and I feel like throwing up. This happened in Karachi, imagine the extra-judicial murders in Balauchistan.

In the unfolding of the events, Twitter users started questioning whether the Chief Justice of Pakistan will take measures against this incident which actually happened as eventually he took the suo motu action.

Rangers soldiers beat a motorcyclist during clash with protesters during demonstrations by members of the public over the unavailability of fuel in Karachi, Pakistan. Photo by PPI Images, copyright Demotix (28/02/2011).

Rangers soldiers beat a motorcyclist during clash with protesters during demonstrations by members of the public over the unavailability of fuel in Karachi, Pakistan. Photo by PPI Images, copyright Demotix (28/02/2011).

Just after 2 months of the incident, the accused rangers official who fired the shots was convicted with death penalty. The remaining officials, who stood by and watched silently, were sentenced to life imprisonment. The blogosphere has expressed mixed reactions on the judgment.

Zainab Imam commended the verdict with these words:

On August 12, history was made. A paramilitary soldier, standing trial in a civilian court, was sentenced to death for extrajudicial murder in Karachi – the city that lives under the watchful eyes of over 10,000 Rangers.

This verdict has not only criminalised an unlawful killing but has also declared that an act of terrorism is just that, even if the perpetrator is a security official. This anti-terrorism court has upheld “the rule of law”.

In a blog post titled “A Tale of Two Murders: Searching for Equal Justice” at NewsLine Blog, Kashif N. Chaudhry draws a comparison of the justice delivered to Sarfraz Shah with the justice delayed for the slain governor Punjab Salman Taseer. Chaudhry questions the inequality of justice:

These two murders prove the sombre fact that Pakistan’s judiciary will never be free as long as the status quo prevails. The words of Pakistan’s constitution that appear to respect the rights of all its citizens will continue to remain a mere ethereal bubble. The only way Pakistan could have an independent and virtuous judiciary is if more Pakistanis aspire to follow the brave example of Mr Taseer.

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