We killed Shahzeb Khan | Pakistan Today

We killed Shahzeb Khan

Security of life and person forms the bedrock of a civilised society. Take that away and all that is left is barbarianism. As a consequence, the protection of each other’s life is not just a duty of the state, but instead the solemn and mutual responsibility of each and every individual (which is why, article 9 of our constitution, which in effect guarantees the right to life, states, “No person shall be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with law”. By not mentioning the ‘state’ alone to be the guarantor of this right, the constitution has made each one of us the custodian of the right to life.) Consequently, each time an innocent life is lost in some mindless act of violence, we are all to be blamed for having allowed it to happen.

The cold-blooded murder of 20-year-old Shahzeb Khan in Karachi, at the hands of two young feudal despots – Nawab Siraj Talpur and Shahrukh Jatoi – is just another example of our collective failure in this regard.

Facts first: Shahzeb Khan, the only son of his parents, had just returned home from his sister’s Valima when, outside his home in the Country Club Apartments of Karachi, he got into a verbal argument with a man who was teasing Shahzeb’s sister. This minor quarrel was soon diffused by Shahzeb’s father, Aurangzeb, who is DSP of the local area. While that would have been the end of the episode in any other place, but in a city that is the fiefdom of a handful of waderas, this was only the beginning. As it turned out, the man teasing Shahzeb’s sister worked for an influential feudal bully Siraj Talpur, who could not stomach his servant being stopped from cat-calling a young girl. As a result, soon thereafter, in a grand demonstration of ‘machoism’, Talpur, along with his other feudal friend Shahrukh Jatoi and their guards, ambushed Shahzeb’s car as it left his house, and shot four bullets into the young mans’ body that took his life.

And if you are wondering how the Jatoi and Talpur heirs thought they could get away with this, you clearly do not understand the power of hereditary entitlement in Pakistan. The murderers committed this crime in the knowledge and confidence that nothing substantial will come out of it. They knew that, in a society where dozens die each day in sectarian violence or suicide bombs or drone attacks, no one will care about the death of one teenage boy. And even if someone does, no one will dare to point a finger at the mighty Talpurs or Jatois. And even, in the improbable event that someone musters the courage to do so, the police will never register a case against them. And in the unlikely possibility that the police performs its job, there will be some way to avoid arrest, influence the investigation, and eventually reach some settlement that lets them off the hook. And sadly, in all these assumptions, the murderers were right. For even though a case has been (after much social and media outcry) registered, the culprits have not been ‘found’ from interior Sindh, and no meaningful arrests have been made.

How could this be? Who is to blame for this injustice? Have we really become a society where the cost of arguing with some wadera’s servant is death? Is the police nothing more than an extension of the feudals’ private guards? Are the officials within our law enforcement agencies really so helpless, in the face of political elite, that they cannot track down and arrest two known murderers from interior Sindh? What is the most that can happen if the administration was to dispassionately pursue the ends of justice – transfer of the IG Police or Chief Secretary? Does the IG Police hold an extra six months of his tenure to be more sacred than the life of an innocent civilian, or the wailings of a crying mother? And the rest of us, what have we done, other than create Facebook pages and write empty newspaper articles? Are we exonerated from all blame because ‘iss mulk mein aisa he hota hai’? Who is to blame? Where does the fault lie?

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,

But in ourselves, that we are underlings. –Shakespeare.

Let us face the bitter truth: Shahzeb Khan, and thousands of others like him, die because we (each one of us) are impotent. We have, through our actions (or lack thereof), established a society where some people exist outside the empire of law. We have, after centuries of bowing down to kiss the hands of Makhdooms, Sains, Chaudhrys and Sardars, installed a culture of hereditary entitlement. We have, through constantly voting along the ethnic and tribal divides, strengthened the tentacles of feudal power. We have, by putting up with decades of injustice and persecution, allowed a sclerotic bureaucracy to blossom and become a tool at the hands of the political elite. We have, through years of apathy, become desensitised to loss of innocent lives. We have, by not speaking truth to power, allowed for private fiefdoms to be established, and become more powerful than the voices of the people.

Let us accept it: WE have killed Shahzeb Khan.

The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore. He has a Masters in Constitutional Law from Harvard Law School. He can be reached at: [email protected]


  1. @shaikhirfanb said:

    Good one but you should have guts to admit that Karachi is not the fiefdom of a handful of waderas. It is allocated into areas owned and operated by militant wings of political parties which most would not even dare to name. And to make it worse you seem to suggest that law enforcement agencies are only incompetent in Sindh? There are hundreds of deaths in Karachi where killers are not even identified and many are identified in political parties without any action being taken! And lastly you should also point that these waderas are nothing but nominations of establishment/GHQ buying them off for their political gains! Who has stopped them from eradicating the feduals once and for all through land reforms?

    • Ishrat salim said:

      land reforms was initiated by ZAB with lot of fanfare but soon died down…why ? because ZAB was soon made to realise that he himself is one of the biggest landlord & loose most of his land through his own hand….otherwise, there would be no landlord today….it need guts & courage over self-interest which has brought this country to where it is today….all thinks about themselves only…
      The writer has very well exposed us…WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THE MESS AROUND.

  2. Niazi Khan said:

    Aaina unko dikhaya to bura maan gae. Baghal mein churi munh mein raam raam.Hum punjab mein beth kr is aag ko mehsoos kr skte hein jo in linguistic terrorists ne jalai hy, 12 may kyu bhool gae?woh konsa bachon ka jhagra tha? pl.reply

    • wonderer said:

      Jannat is going to get too crowded soon if Pakistan keeps going on its present path. We can only write such columns, and sit tight on our haunches. Why are we venerating land lords among us? Have we not heard of an upstart by the name of Bilawal Zardari calling himself Bilawal Bhutto Zardari? He is already behaving like the Pakistani "Prince of Wales". Is there any doubt that he will one day become just like the killers of Shahzeb?

  3. RASHID KHAN said:

    the murderers must be publicly flogged and hanged.the tragedy is that either no punishment is given to real perpetrators or if very soft.i am sure the criminals would be belonging to pppz

  4. HAQ said:

    his fathr is an honest simple DSP who lives in a meagre apartment ! i was at shahzebs QUL and i saw that his family is educated yet very middle class.. and these waderas dont care… they have hundreds of dsps coming to their houses for transfers and other influential work for them.
    please think straight, we know who the killers are and we still dont have the guts to arrest them, WHY? the police was so well FED that they were not even recording the FIR properly! WHY?

  5. Neutral Voice said:

    @ ali raza…….ali…its not people like me its infact people like you who dont have heart to listen anyone's point of view……because of this hyper nature of people like you who once make up their mind go to any extent to defend your meaningless thoughts, pakistan is in this state………………………….jazbaati honay mai 2 min lagtay hain is qaum ko phir so jaati hai sab bhool k………………….i will see how long this protest for this young guy stays, mark my words after two weeks nobody will remember his name…………after two weeks when you see the mirror remember my words ….whats the difference between you and those who got hyper n did this…..you are perfect example of classic SOB.

  6. aloneinlonelyplanet said:

    Phir bhi Bhutto zinda hey!! Jiyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyy Bhuttoooooooooooooo!!!

  7. aloneinlonelyplanet said:

    Nadeem Farooq Paracha must be very happy today! Two Jialas with "Awami" support have eliminated a Middle Class "fanatic" from the face of Pakistan who would have turned into a fundamentalist at the hands of some cleric sometime in next 5 years!! Lets see if DAWN NEWS and DAILY TIMES dare to report this story!! PT has only reported this because its run thanks to right-wing Mansha Sahib!! Jeyeeeyyyyyy Bhuttoooooooooooooo!!!

  8. @nehanazir said:

    Saad Bhai, love the article! Pakistan will only prosper when we as a nation take steps to eradicate feudalism and break up feudal power…its a parasite that has taken the lives of so many-including Shahzeb Khan! May he rest in peace…

  9. Asad Qasmi said:

    very true and an eye opener. just consider this is the story when the wronged is the only son of one of the protectors of law an order. Had this been someone even closer to the lower strata of society, this probably wouldn't even have made it to this forum.

  10. Blogger said:

    Neutral voice its hardly neutral to abuse someone like you are doing, even if you are just trying to make a point. When we would start respecting each other, a lot would be resolved automatically. You are telling people not to get hyper and what are you doing? If someone has expressed his findings, you can submit yours.

  11. Dilbar Jahan said:

    "but in a city that is the fiefdom of a handful of waderas …" Excuse me, is MQM one of those handful waderas, and is the violence in Karachi perpetrated by waderas? The last time I checked the violence is Karachi started as linguistic and soon turned into fascistic.
    Second, I doubt the writer has a law degree when he writes: "The cold-blooded murder of 20-year-old Shahzeb Khan in Karachi, at the hands of two young feudal despots – Nawab Siraj Talpur and Shahrukh Jatoi…" Please, don't become prosecutor, judge and the court all at the same time. Law teaches is that unless proven guilty by a court, the accused are considered to be innocent. That's why media use words like "allegedly" and "accused" in such stories.
    Third, please, don't personlize a single death; in Karachi goons and thugs kill youths like Shahzen every single day. How can we forget about young, promising professionals like Wali Babar, who was killed in cold blood, all witnesses in his case were killed systematically, and I am sure not by waderas like Jatois and Talpurs!

  12. ejaz said:

    Please get them hanged with their parents who trained them so poorly,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,identify the political party of these wederas and expose it at every level,,,,,,,,,

  13. masood said:

    If the author is right then of course ir is a very sad and heart wrenching story. Think of the poor family who have lost their only son and brother. But this time the CJP took notice and hence the rapid arrests and a likely very rapid trial. Some one up there is very right that no one should be treated as guilty unless proved. But whoever turns out to be guilty of this heinous crime should be made an example. I dont know how many sons Mr Jatoi has but i met one of them about six to seven years back. Then he was a young man and i found him very well behaved and sort of sober.. nowhere near the image of a spoiled brat associated with many youngsters of wadera class.

  14. Patrick Hospes said:

    Very interesting breakdown, indeed. It’s nice to have such information available in one location and some ideas for new and different directions to help one stand out.

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