Unfortunate, condemnable and dangerous
In 2011 Rangers personnel shot dead an unarmed 22-year old man, Sarfraz Shah, in broad daylight in Karachi. The video recording of the incident that went viral clearly showed Shah begging for his life but to no avail. He was shot twice at close range and left to bleed out on the pavement.
That video aided in the arrest of the five men (including the shooter) responsible for the killing and the outrage made it necessary for the Rangers and Police chief at the time to be sacked – both events would probably not have transpired without the video evidence.
According to IG prisons a presidential pardon has been granted to the five men all of whom were sentenced to life imprisonment. Although the President House has denied that the pardon has been approved it has not categorically stated that it won’t be granted at all.
Any decision to free the convicted murderers would be an abomination and complete misuse of power. It would not only be a gross human rights violation but a slap in the face of the victim’s family as well. It is unfortunate that the leniency being extended to the killers is supposedly a result of them being part of a paramilitary force when the crime was committed.
This pardon weakens one’s trust in the judicial system that is already mired by its share of problems ranging from corruption to delays in cases being heard and concluded on time. In addition to this it will wrongly encourage armed security personnel to feel as if they are judge, jury and executioner.
All the Rangers personnel convicted in this case had received the highest level of training after which they were deployed. They did not act in accordance with that training and committed murder for which they received the appropriate jail time. President Mamnoon Hussain, like the courts, should see past the uniform the killers were wearing at the time of committing this egregious murder and let the conviction stand.