of innocent citizens, extra-judicial and target killings are not uncommon in Pakistan but last Wednesday's brutal killing of
young Sarfraz Shah by para-military Rangers in Karachi has shocked the nation. The trigger-happy Rangers mercilessly sprayed
the unarmed young man with bullets point blank as a result he sustained
injuries and fell down crying for his life. He was begging that he should be
moved to hospital but was left to bleed to death. Initially security forces
claimed that Sarfraz Shah opened fire at the Rangers and he was killed in the
encounter. However, the horrific killing was captured on video camera by a local
TV crew. The video clip shown on TV networks belied the encounter claim.
Shah's brutal killing came a week after an investigative journalist, Syed
Saleem Shahzad's bullet riddle body was found in a canal. He was abducted on
May 27 from a high security area of Islamabad.
Human Right's Watch (HRW) has accused the Pakistani intelligence agency,
Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), of involvement in the abduction and murder
execution-style killing of Sarfraz Shah is not an isolated incident. It brings
to mind last month's incident in Kharotabad, Quetta, where five Chechens, including three
women, approaching a para-military Frontier Corps check post were gunned down
by the security personnel. An army Colonel took part in the shooting of the
unarmed Chechens. While an inquiry is still under way in that case, subsequent
investigation appeared to belie police claims that the Chechens were suicide
to the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), in the past eight months, over 120
persons are thought to have been killed extra-judicially following abduction
and disappearance by the State. The ALRC estimates that thousands of people are
reported to have been subjected to enforced disappearance in recent years, in
particular in resource-rich Balochistan.
report of May 24 said despite the scale of the problem of extra-judicial
killings in Pakistan,
and despite the fact that the country now has a civilian government, since the
ouster of President General Pervez Musharraf, the authorities have not taken
any meaningful steps to address this grave problem.
the disappeared and subsequently killed persons were arrested in the presence
of the police. In most cases, when complaints concerning these persons'
disappearance are made by relatives of human rights defenders, the police
refuse to lodge an FIR, because of the involvement of state intelligence
agencies and their collusion with or subservience to this powerful entity in
Pakistan, which appears to operate above the law and with total impunity for
even the gravest rights abuses," the report added.
said that in Balochistan, journalists, teachers, political activists, students
and human rights defenders are being targeted in particular.
to cases documented, during the first four months of 2011, as many 25
journalists, writers, human rights defenders, students, and political activists
have been killed extra-judicially. 24 of the victims were arrested or abducted,
disappeared and then killed. For example, prominent human rights defender and
journalist, Mr. Siddique Eido and his friend, Mr. Yousaf Nazar Baloch, were
allegedly arrested by the Frontier Corp and police on December 21, 2010. Their
mutilated bodies were found on April 28 having been dumped next to the Makran
coastal highway near Ormara, Balochistan province. The other victim, human
rights defender Mr. Naeem Sabir Baloch, the district coordinator of Human Right
Commission of Pakistan, was killed outside his house by unknown persons. He was
working to compile a list of victims of forced disappearance, intended for the
Supreme Court of Pakistan and High Court of Balochistan.
on May 13, 2011, the AHRC announced that the bodies of five disappeared
persons, including a prominent leader of the Baloch Student Organization, were
found in different locations in Balochistan. All bore signs of torture and
bullet wounds. Their families claim they had been abducted by members of the
law enforcement agencies, with three of them having been disappeared since
8, 2011 the Asian Human Rights Commission said: "Disappearances in Pakistan have
become a routine matter and it has been accepted by the authorities as a normal
practice of the law enforcement agencies, including the army and its
intelligence agencies. The major political parties, who are in sizeable numbers
in the parliament, are also silent on the issue of enforced disappearances and
torture in military detention cells"".A new trend has been reported in forced disappearances
and that is the extrajudicial killings of the victims. Through this method it
is easy for the abductors to wash away all evidence of the disappearance--no
question of FIRs, legal process or placing blame."
Army operation behind
extra-judicial killings are reported at a time when Pakistan's mercenary Army is
conducting massive operations against the "militants' in the tribal region
behind a smoke screen. No journalists are permitted inside the war zone.
According to HRCP, security forces did not allow journalists and the civil
society to freely visit the conflict-hit regions. The threat of abduction and
target killing in parts of Balochistan and FATA made them virtual no-go areas.
Reports about the fighting and casualties of the so-called Taliban and army as
well as civilian victims are primarily based on the information, misinformation
and propaganda released by government or military spokesmen.
150,000 Pakistani army troops have been involved in operations in Swat and the
Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the Afghanistan
border, including Bajur and South Waziristan.
A major operation was launched in Swat in November 2007. Another operation in
Bajur commenced in August 2008. South Waziristan
operation began in October 2009.
of militants have been reported killed and thousands others have been
apprehended in the military operations in the tribal region. The army has
neither released the names of those arrested nor the killed militants. After
any encounter or raid there is a terse statement by the Army Public Relations
Department giving the number of casualties without any name. Since the region
is a no-go area for the media, the army claims cannot be confirmed.
surprisingly, fearful of retaliation, the Pakistani media rarely reports on
human rights abuses in the unpopular military operations against its own people
in FATA, Swat and Northern areas for which the Pakistani military has received
$ 8.881 billion between 2002 and 2010, according the US Congressional Research
Pakistani army has been accused of extrajudicial killings in 2009-2010 in its
operation in Swat
Valley. Pakistani forces
have been carrying out operations against the Taliban in Swat since May 2008. A
recent Human Rights group report provides an insight into the US-backed brutal
Army operations in the volatile region.