The mayhem witnessed on May 12, 2007, will continue to haunt the nation unless several key questions are answered regarding those responsible for the killing of more than 50 people and the disappearance of police and Rangers on the fateful day when the city witnessed worst ever breakdown in law and order, says Abrar Hasan, who was the president of the Sindh High Court Bar Association at the time.
In an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune, Abrar Hasan said that the nation must know who was pulling the strings from Islamabad, what orders were issued from the federal capital and who, acting upon these instructions, killed dozens of innocent citizens and held the entire city hostage at gunpoint.
Recalling the events that preceded the arrival of then non-functional Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Abrar Hasan said that after a tumultuous welcome accorded to the chief justice in different cities, a much bigger show was expected in Karachi and this must have made the people at the helm of affairs jittery which is why they decided to stop the chief justice from entering Karachi.
He disclosed that on the eve of the CJP’s visit, the city government had dug a ditch in front of the main gate of Quaid-e-Azam’s mausoleum amid apprehensions of his possible visit to the site.
Abrar said that he was in contact with a major political group of Karachi and it had given a clear understanding that the CJP’s visit would be facilitated.
“The Sindh governor called us to Governor House on May 11 and inquired about the arrangements and programme for the chief justice visit,” Abrar said, adding that the governor even asked about the number of vehicles which would proceed to Karachi airport to receive him and bring him in a cavalcade to the Sindh High Court.
“We told the governor that there would be about 100 vehicles in the convoy. We were assured a safe passage. We came to the high court from Governor House after an hour-long meeting and gave final touches to the programme. We left after an hour and till then everything was okay. There were no obstacles,” he said.
“I stayed at a friend’s place that night and in the morning when I tried to reach the high court, I saw containers and water tankers placed to block the roads leading to the high court building. I also received telephone calls informing me of the law and order situation in Karachi and the siege of the high court building,” recalled Hasan, adding that he somehow managed to reach the SHC boundary where he was soon joined by Justice Mushir Alam who called the nazir of the high court asking him to bring the keys of a gate connecting the SHC building to the Sindh Secretariat. The then Chief Justice of the Sindh High Court, Sabihuddin Ahmed, also arrived moments later.
Hasan said that the Sindh police chief, DIG Karachi and provincial home secretary were summoned by the late Justice Sabihuddin who asked them to remove the barricades.
“Without mincing words, the top officials told Justice Sabihuddin that they were helpless and could not remove the barricades. Learning about this, the lawyers lost their cool but I some how managed to control them,” said Hasan.
In the meantime, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had already landed at the Karachi airport. At that time he received a call from a Sindh minister “Siddiqui” who preferred to speak in a harsh tone while hurling abuse.
“He (the minister) asked me to tell the chief justice to return to Islamabad. I told him that the chief justice was here on our invitation therefore I could not ask him to go back. I also reminded the minister that we had already been assured of safe passage,” said Hasan. He recalled that even the governor had called him amid the bloodshed but he “did not receive any call from Sindh home minister Waseem Akhtar. However, I received a letter from him in response to one of the communications by us and from that I could gauge the real intentions.”
After day-long violence in the city, in the evening the Sindh administration issued a notification ordering the deportation of the chief justice upon which he took a flight back to Islamabad, he said.
“The entire exercise was to stop Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the man who was the torchbearer of the rule of law and supremacy of the constitution.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2012.
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