Chechen killing: Trigger-happiness?

While Pakistan is facing the threat of terrorism, authorities cannot be given a free hand to shoot anyone they want.

Shahzad Balouch May 23, 2011
I was standing close to the crime scene when the paramilitary troops and police opened fire on the five Chechens who were lying injured near the Frontier Corps picket strangled in barbed wire near Killi Khezi, Quetta. One of the wounded women was pleading for mercy by waving her hand. Television footage clearly covered this particular moment.

The heavily armed personnel seemed to be too confident before resorting to opening fire, hastily, without verifying whether the foreigners were terrorists or innocent. The intense firing forced me to remain behind the DSNG which was parked about 30 yards from the picket.

Some local residents and shopkeepers were witnessing the incident. When I asked a middle-aged man about the incident, three people simultaneously shouted: “There are women there. They can be caught because they are still breathing and injured. They’re not dead!” I could clearly hear their voices despite the gunshots. “Don’t kill them,” local residents kept on shouting.

The FC and police officials standing close to the dead bodies were shouting loudly: “Suspects are wearing suicide vests and can blow themselves up at anytime”.

A senior official, who first took an AK-47 assault rifle from one of the personnel, asked his colleague how to unlock the gun.  After the instructions, he blatantly opened fire.

The bodies lay near the picket for at least four hours. Finally, the rescue workers tied the legs and hands of each corpse with ropes and dragged them towards the ambulance one by one after a search.

Later it emerged that those suspects, including three women [one of them a seven-month pregnant], were unarmed and were not wearing suicide vests. Not even a single pistol was recovered. The postmortem and bomb disposal squad’s report confirmed this.

We all are aware of the catastrophic terrorist threat that our country faces. But it does not mean that the security forces and police are authorised to kill unarmed people by using excessive force.

This incident needs due justice and I hope the judicial inquiry will unveil the real story and would produce its impartial report without any delay.
Shahzad Balouch A correspondent for The Express Tribune in Quetta.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.