Killing at will is the order of the day

Sulaiman Lashari, an O-level student, was shot dead on May 8 as he was studying inside his house in Karachi's Defence area. The attackers were policemen accompanying the son of the SSP of the Sakrand Police Training Centre.

One wonders why so many policemen were at the disposal of the son of a middle-ranking police official in the first place. And why were they attacking the house of a private citizen without any justification.

The two boys had earlier had an argument. The young Salman Abro entered the Lashari residence to settle scores, according to the statement given by Lashari's father.

At the end of this incident, Suleiman and a policeman were dead. The policeman died because the Lashari household also had guards who returned fire.

The city police chief promised an inquiry and exemplary punishment. So far, no action has been taken against the SSP who let his guards accompany his son on a killing spree, nor against the police officials who participated in this expedition. The usual first information report (FIR) has been lodged.

Why are we surprised at the impunity with which our young and powerful act? There are several examples where men with misplaced notions of honour have taken the law into their hands and managed to get away scot-free.

Who can forget the Shahzeb Khan murder? This 20-year-old was gunned down on the night of December 24, 2012.

The son of DSP Aurangzeb Khan, Shahzeb was murdered in DHA after he had an altercation with one of the servants of a powerful and well-connected family.

A retainer of that family had been teasing Shahzeb's sister. Instead of questioning the servant for his behaviour, members of the family decided to teach Shahzeb a lesson.

After much hue and cry in the media, the courts ordered the arrest of the accused. They eventually handed down death sentences to the main accused, Shahrukh Jatoi and Siraj Talpur, and life terms to Sajjad Talpur and Ghulam Murtaza Lashari.

But that is part one of the saga. The more interesting aspect is how after the killing of Shahzeb, the official machinery of the Peoples Party government went into overdrive to save the murderers.

Personal officers of President Zardari and Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah worked to facilitate the escape of the accused from Pakistan.

It was only at the insistence of the judiciary that he was brought back from Dubai. It then came as no surprise that soon after Shahzeb's parents decided to pardon the culprits without claiming the amount of Diyat or Qisas.

How the poor family must have been pressured.

In 2013, we have another such case. In April of that year, 17-year-old Hamza Ahmed was shot dead allegedly by the guard of a fellow-student, Shoaib, again in the DHA locality of  Karachi.

According to the police, it was an argument over a girlfriend. In the final showdown which took place outside a restaurant in DHA, Hamza was accompanied by two friends and Shoaib arrived with a friend and his guard.

Initially the boys were talking calmly but soon after, things got heated. Hamza slapped Shoaib first after which the latter told his guard to kill him. The guard reportedly used his 9mm pistol to shoot Hamza four times, killing him on the spot. Eventually Shoaib was arrested but the guard remains at large.

These three incidents suggest how young men think nothing of murdering someone else at the slightest provocation. It is surely a sign of society's disintegration.

There are many who say that such incidents would not happen in Shahbaz Sharif's Punjab. He would take immediate notice and take the errant persons to task.

Either way, what we see is a very disturbing trend. Last year when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had come to Karachi to invite suggestions over how to deal with the city's rising lawlessness, I had also given my two cents worth.

I had advised that public display of weapons be banned and whoever is caught should be immediately arrested. This would be the beginning of a much-needed de-weaponisation drive that the city desperately needs.

The PM smiled and in return announced the creation of a new force to fight street crime and the formation of a committee of eminent persons to oversee it. This would have meant more guards for the rich and powerful. Thankfully the Rangers are doing a better job instead. But for how long will we suffer this mis-governance.

The Express Tribune


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