Taxi driver shot dead by Rangers: Trained to kill or trained to protect?

Published: July 18, 2013
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Murad Ali's taxi. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD NOMAN/EXPRESS

Yesterday, Murad, a taxi driver, was shot dead in front of his four-year-old son by Ghulam Rasul, a Rangers soldier. Witness accounts suggest Murad was asked to stop his vehicle and as he reversed towards the Rangers, he was greeted with four bullets in the chest.

Ghulam Rasul has been apprehended and four other Rangers have been suspended due to their involvement in the incident as of the publication of this post.

Before we delve into debates about the army, morality, or the legality of this incident, let us take a moment to acknowledge the many human lives that will be affected by this one incident alone. It’s not about losing Murad but also about the many others impacted directly. Murad’s four-year-old son who witnessed this trauma; Murad’s other dependents; Ghulam Rasul and his family who will be reminded of his actions for the rest of their lives. We cannot value a human life as an economic utility function – if the HRCP reported 1,726 official deaths in Karachi within the first six months of this year, it does not make additional deaths any less significant.

It is an indisputable fact that the Rangers duty is to protect its citizens, yet clearly this was not the case here. Similarly, Ghulam Haider’s unfortunate death at the hands of another Rangers soldier roughly a month and a half ago still runs fresh in the minds of the public. It is important to note that while these incidents cannot be classified as a trend on their own, they can be used to debunk the myth of ‘shoot on sight’ that seems to persist regarding the Rangers authority. If ‘shoot in case of refusal to stop’ was an order, we would have seen more of these incidents.

Are we to believe only two drivers in the past 45 days refused to stop when asked to by authorities?

Another argument that contradicts this popular theory would be the locations and the professions of those killed- can we imagine a similar incident happening in the more ‘prestigious’ parts of city to seemingly ‘white-collared’ persons? If not, this incident can also be termed discriminatory in nature.

It is retrospect which allows us to analyse these incidents and the facts and strongly form an opinion one way or the other. However, Ghulam Rasul did not have that luxury. He had moments, after a vehicle he flagged to stop, reversed towards him- this is not a justification of his actions but a presentation of facts. In the uncountable times that Ghulam Rasul will go over this incident in his head, he will no doubt explore the many other alternative courses of actions he could have pursued.

We can propose he should have opted for the tyres and we can discuss why he shot blindly with a child present in the vehicle. Regardless, it is not unfair of us to expect a cooler head- Ghulam Rasul is a Rangers personnel. He was not picked from the streets and handed a gun; he went through intense physical and mental training to earn the uniform and his behaviour is rightly disappointing.

Yet, Rangers are no strangers to being attacked themselves- perhaps Ghulam Rasul acted instinctively and in self-defence. Did he need a defence when he was armed and surrounded by other Rangers? It’s subjective. We have seen solitary suicide bombers attack Rangers before through the medium of vehicles (North Nazimabad attack on Rangers) and if we argue that Ghulam Rasul should have waited, we are lending credence to lack of action we bemoan when suicide bombers are able to carry out their activities.

Such incidents can also easily be caused by a rogue mind. In that case, rather than simply inspecting the action, we need to analyse the aftermath of such actions rigorously – who was Ghulam Rasul taken in custody by? Was it his colleagues? Was it the police? Will he be shielded by his institution or hung out to dry? Will the state provide for Murad’s young son to go through an ample recovery process? Will the Rangers do the same? Will we vilify the incident as Rangers being abusive or will we try it fairly? Are the Rangers being abusive indeed? Are there internal checks to prevent potential abuses of power? Do we even train our Rangers for special civilian protection tailored specifically for cities like Karachi and Quetta?

Just like we chastise a few bad seeds for giving Pakistan a bad name globally, we cannot be hypocritical and blame the entire institution of Rangers for the actions of a few elements. It is easy to forget the many violent outcomes averted because of the proactive actions of the Rangers because they never make the popular media. Rangers do their job discreetly- had Murad indeed been a terrorist then this incident would have been glossed over and forgotten soon. We should not treat this as a case against the Rangers- Ghulam Rasul should be tried on the basis of the incident alone. Most importantly, however, his role as a Ranger cannot be undermined but extra care should be taken that it does not protect him either.

Read more by Nabeel here.

Nabeel.Jafri

Nabeel Jafri

A finance graduate who worked in the fashion industry and then went back to working in finance, he tweets as @nabeeljafri (twitter.com/nabeeljafri)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Khurram

    Also Next time we should not cry lack of Rangers response when they are ordered shoot to kill. In many instances
    Government did ordered rangers in the past to shoot anyone in curfew or in situations where nobody stops for snap checking. So next time if Rangers will fail then dont blame them as other than Rangers everyone is innocent here. Nobody is blaming the Government officials and those SOPs which give orders to Rangers to shoot in the first place.
    I am telling you even in America when you dont stop on a check post then you will be fired upon and everyone knows that Taxi driver avoided Rangers and despite the warning he did not stopped so why not took this situation into account as well.?. Why Not educated our Public to respect the Law as well ?Recommend

  • anonymous

    When they shoot people cry and When they dont shoot people cry.Recommend

  • ezanius

    Why doesn’t anyone try to assess the situation before believing in Ranger’s statement. It seems this guy did stop, APPARENTLY THERE IS NO BLOOD INSIDE THE VEHICLE, THE FRONT SCREEN OF THE CAR IS BROKEN WITH THE BULLETS!!!!! HOW COULD THE MINOR DIDN’T GET INJURED!!!!!!!!! These are the questions that need to be answered, because apparently the poor guy must have been killed during Q&A/investigating session… we have seen them killing a young boy even begging for mercy! We all know these killer will be acquitted in the end under the law of Deeyat!!!!! Recommend

  • Tribune Reader

    Ofcourse they misuse their authority, I was badly assaulted outside McDonald’s Tariq Road in 2011 for not seeing their indication to stop and when it made news on this newspaper the same story, comments were full of mockery and ridicule, sad state of affairs the same fake liberals are going to cry their hearts out because it was a poor man, its human life regardless. Recommend

  • AB

    @ Khurram and anonymous; I think You ppl dont know the ground realities of KHI and start critizing only. Lets keep things simple; if that Taxi driver stopped then Ranger personal will do the search and degrade the poor guy to give him bribe otherwise Rangers will drag Taxi driver into False case, this is normal practice in the Metropolis Khi. Rangers are already failed as you can see the number of Killings in the first half of the Year 2013, and situation of Lyari. Then came to the shooting point. YES the Govt had given the orders but its not like you shoot direct at the Chest, or Head. Rangers are trained to tackle the tough situations, so he could shoot at the tyres and then grab the Taxi driver. But Human life has no value in KHI whether he is a LEA personal or a Target killer, they just know HOW to shoot the innocent Khiite.Recommend

  • Seema

    Why didn’t he stop when he was told to? Next time a terrorist gets away because the Rangers stopped him and did nothing when he refused to stop, then don’t blame the Rangers. Blame yourselves you whining lot! Recommend

  • Suhail

    As matter of fact, he was with his child. And he didn’t stop on the order of rangers. I don’t know but the scenario alters from different angle of view. He may be having emergency as he was with his child. A taxi driver without passengers just carrying his child in his cab clearly shows he had something to do in hurry (thinking positively).Recommend

  • Humza

    Karachi has lots of criminality unfortunately. It must be a tough job to be a Ranger when people don’t listen to security authorities. If people don’t listen to the police and Rangers to assist in promoting public safety, what can they expect? Yes it’s sad that an innocent person died but think of the difficult job of a security Ranger. A driver ignores the police and continues on ahead- then suddenly backs up towards a check post. Imagine the stress of the police officials too. If it had a criminal, would you have shed tears for the Rangers if they were attacked? You would have called them incompetent for not being more proactive with criminals. We should all be a little more understanding and less judgemental about such incidents. As they say in English, try walking in my shoes before passing judgement. Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Seema:
    Why didn’t he stop when he was told to? Next time a terrorist gets away because the Rangers stopped him and did nothing when he refused to stop, then don’t blame the Rangers. Blame yourselves you whining lot!

    No blood found in the taxicab. No bullet holes. That means taxicab driver was shot outside the taxi cab. 4 Rangers with guns could have easily arrested him. As the guy was shot in the chest 4 times that shows he was not running away. Rangers IG or DIG has investigated the incident. After investigation officials handed over the murderer to police. Taxi driver has no record with police department. He was taking his one and a half yr old son to a doctor.Recommend

  • sattar rind

    its not easy to read along article … make it short.Recommend

  • Aseer

    so yes ! dear author do more of the research and be aware of ground realities and technicalities before writing up next time.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Humza: .”It must be a tough job to be a Ranger when people don’t listen to security authorities. If people don’t listen to the police and Rangers to assist in promoting public safety, what can they expect? Yes it’s sad that an innocent person died”

    Was this a target killing?

    If people are stopped randomly, one can easily get confused if he is supposed to stop or not.

    There should be signs in URDU to tell people you may be killed by Rangers/Police if you don’t stop your car when signaled too.Recommend

  • hamid siddiqui

    Rangers should be put into leash and sent to the borders, for which they were hired and are getting paid from the government. They are totally failed to restore any security in the city, rather they are the source of insecurity in Karachi. In this particular case apprehension of GHULAM RASOL and others is not at all enough, they should be forced to pay a heavy penalty and then punished for at least life time sentence.Recommend