Jan 092018

Members of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights on Tuesday expressed grave concern over reports of a presidential pardon granted to Rangers personnel convicted in the 2011 Sarfraz Shah murder case.

On Sunday, a section of media had reported that the president had granted pardon to five convicted Rangers personnel, namely Shahid Zafar, Muhammad Afzal Khan, Baha-ur-Rehman, Muhammad Tariq and Manthar Ali.

However, Dawn had found that the provincial authorities concerned have yet to receive an official confirmation of the president’s pardon.

Senator Farhatullah Babar nonetheless termed the development a "cruel joke" as he highlighted the issue. "Official sources quoted in the media reports lent the news credibility," Babar added.

He had especially asked the chairperson's permission to discuss the matter after the conclusion of the meeting's agenda.

"This is an unacceptable affront to the rights of victims and their families. Are uniformed personnel given the license to brandish guns and kill innocent people at will and with impunity?" he asked.

He said that he was unable to forget the "terrified young man beseeching his killers to not take his life with folded hands, and the sadistic pleasure writ large on the man's face as he pulled the trigger."

"The images of this shameful incident will continue to shake the nation's conscience for years to come," he said, adding that a presidential pardon handed to the convicts "will only make the shameful images more horrifying."

The senator also worried that pardoning the convicts without the victim's family's consent would further embolden law enforcement personnel to take the law into their hands.

Other members of the committee also strongly condemned the report.

On June 8, 2011, Sarfaraz Shah had been shot at by Rangers personnel near the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park in the Boat Basin area of Clifton, Karachi. He was then left to bleed out.

The fatal shooting was filmed by a cameraman and telecast on various TV channels, sparking a public backlash over the apparent brutality of trained paramilitary troops.

Then chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry had taken a suo moto notice in this regard. Subsequently, both the Rangers chief and the Sindh IGP were removed on the orders of the Supreme Court.

Later, however, both officials were reinstated to their respective posts.

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