The death sentence awarded on June 7 by a Karachi anti-terrorism court to Shahrukh Jatoi and Nawab Siraj Talpur, the prime accused in the Shahzeb Khan murder case, was attended by gasps of relief by the victim’s loved ones. Treating the verdict with utter disdain, the principal accused took recourse to courtroom theatrics — clapping his hands as the judge read out his sentence and flicking a victory sign as he emerged out of the court premises. The smug gesture appeared to convey his belief that his powerful family will ultimately buy him freedom from the clutches of the law.
The culprit’s conceit is understandable, given the clout he brought to bear in fleeing the country soon after committing the crime: he travelled to the UAE without being intercepted by the immigration staff. When he was finally brought back to Pakistan, he realised, much to his chagrin, that personal influence can go only so far. Shahrukh and his accomplices were found guilty of murdering the young man in cold blood on December 24, 2012, over a trivial matter.
Under due process of law, the convicts can file appeals against their conviction. The grieving family and a tight band of online warriors, who have pursued the case with remarkable perseverance and tenacity, will need to wait a little longer until the superior judiciary either upholds or sets aside the sentence. In a country where wheels of justice turn agonisingly slowly, the judgment in this case, which had riveted the civil society’s attention from the outset, must be noted for its remarkable speed. This swiftness may not have been possible had it not been for the social media’s vibrant role in keeping the case in the spotlight, which also ensured that the accused could not suppress the case or erase it from the public’s memory. The case had evoked the interest of all and sundry because it had begun to be perceived as a litmus test of which way the class struggle settles. At least for now, the weaker side has won half the battle.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2013.
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