Death sentence for Rangers, freedom for terrorists?

Why should Malik Ishaq, Ajmal Pahari, Mumtaz Qadri or others not be faced with the same kind of justice?

Zarrar Khuhro August 12, 2011
Rejoice all ye faithful, for justice has been served. Seven terrorists who spread fear among the good people of Pakistan have been tried and sentenced. These weren’t any slap-on-the-wrist sentences either: one got a death sentence and the others got life. This was justice on steroids, with the ATC disposing of the case in a record two months. They were terrorists after all, and got what they deserved.

So pardon me for asking why Malik Ishaq could not be faced with the same kind of justice, or why Ajmal Pahari – accused of dozens if not hundreds of murders  - cannot be convicted? Did Mumtaz Qadri also not terrorise this nation when he shot down Salmaan Taseer? Were the rangers who shot Sarfraz Shah guilty of greater crimes than these men have committed? Or is it that those whose job it is to provide justice also realize that, as opposed to the rangers, these men have allies who would not refrain from exacting their own retribution? After all, black robes are not necessarily bulletproof. The rangers in the Sarfraz Shah case were not tried so much by a judge as by television. This was not conviction by a court, but by consensus.

Let’s just rewind for a minute here. Sarfraz was found attempting to rob people in a park carrying what appeared to be a firearm. In the video you can hear him say ‘nakli hay yaar’. If that had been my family he has pointed a gun at, fake or not, believe me when I say I would have cheered the rangers who shot him. And face facts, so would most of you. You really wouldn’t care if he had been forced into a life of crime or whether his gun fired rubber pellets or hollow points. In the city of Karachi such robberies take place dozens of times a day. People are shot dead for a Rs 3,000 mobile phone. And we cry out for law and order and justice. We cheer when mobs stone a robber to death (unless we actually happen to see it caught on tape, of course). We call for robbers and killers to be shot on sight. Well, guess what? This is what it looks like.

I’m all for the rule of law. The rangers were trigger happy, shooting Sarfraz Shah the third time he reached for their guns and then letting him bleed to death. But if they’re terrorists, so are Malik Ishaq, Ajmal Pahari and Mumtaz Qadri. So are the scions of political leaders who ply the streets with tinted land cruisers with no number plates but plenty of armed men.  God knows I feel terrorized when they cut me off at a green light.

If justice must apply to the Rangers (who had shoot to kill orders) then can I ask for the same justice to be applied to others? If not, don’t be surprised if they just look the other way the next time someone points a gun at your family.


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Zarrar Khuhro The writer is editor of The Express Tribune Magazine
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Maria | 12 years ago | Reply @Salman Arshad: You forget that if a man commits treason in Pakistan, you can always find some confused people who will support him. Most people don;t care about the constitution or laws. When Musharraf took over, he ignored his soldier's pledge to uphold and respect the constitution and took over as a dictator. This is considered treason if you ask any lawyer. Only after many years are people talking about charging him.
Steven | 12 years ago | Reply @Uncle J: Tell you what , when another criminal with a phoney gun ( by the way how can you tell it's phoney when you're being robbed) comes up to you, I want you to embrace the thug and give him your stuff since you prefer the criminal over the Rangers. If the reporter was so concerned, he could have called a cab or taken the criminal to the hospital.
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