Taxi driver shot dead: The Rangers are not to blame

Published: July 26, 2013
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Lack of equipment has evolved the Rangers' “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality. PHOTO: REUTERS

Most of the time, law enforcement agencies in Pakistan are blamed for corruption and for being in cahoots with criminals. However, recently, the elite contingent of Pakistani law enforcement – which is usually called in when the situation becomes too big to handle for basic level officers – has come under fire for allegations of extra judicial killings and for sporting a general “hair trigger attitude.”

The reference here is, of course, to the Rangers and the spate of recent incidents that have involved shooting at presumably innocent people.

The Rangers first drew media attention after they opened fire on an unarmed young man in Karachi and the most recent controversial episode has been of Rangers supposedly shooting an innocent taxi driver.

What most of us fail to recognise is the fact that the Rangers of Pakistan are not provided with the necessary equipment to carry out their duties. They do not have heavy body armour, ballistic shields, entry tools, armoured vehicles, advanced night vision optics or motion detectors for covertly determining the positions of hostages and hostage takers; rather, they are over-worked and under-equipped individuals who do the best that they can with the tools that they have.

It is this depravity that has led them to develop the “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality.

This would have worked fine had our society been stuck in the medieval rut that it had been trapped in for so long, but nowadays every second person is aware of their human rights and the limitations of law enforcement agencies. Whenever the Rangers are involved in any such incident, the whole of Pakistan cries bloody murder!

Let’s take Sarfaraz Shah’s shooting incident for instance, a 19-year-old man from Karachi, and focus on the fact that even in the news footage – which has been touted as concrete proof of the Rangers’ alleged misconduct – the youth is seen grappling with the Rangers’ personnel. Had the Ranger been equipped with a simple taser gun, he would have probably only tasered the boy; unfortunately, the only deterrent that the Ranger had was his gun, which he put to use.

Now onto the most recent event that stirred controversy – the killing of taxi driver Murad by Rangers, because of which some of the Rangers personnel have been remanded into police custody.

Murad was supposedly “gunned down” by the “villainous” rangers for no apparent reason.

A truly horrific incident indeed, but scratch the surface and the murky details will start to emerge. The taxi driver was told to stop; he was given time to stop and still he paid no heed. This behaviour is certainly not expected of an ordinary taxi driver. Even though the driver was innocent, chances are that it was this time that the accused was not guilty, to the Ranger, however, he must have appeared to be the embodiment of a terrorist.

No one wants a fast vehicle hurtling towards them. One tries to defend himself in any way possible and at the time, the Ranger’s mind probably told him the fastest way to defend himself, was to shoot.

This tragedy was played on the news repeatedly, hinting that Rangers were, in fact, the bane of Pakistani crime fighters. However, it could easily have been prevented had the Rangers been given the appropriate equipment to carry out their duties. Maybe some mobile barriers and long-range light sources could have saved the day. Had the Rangers been stationed in a secure post made of blast resistant material, perhaps their actions would have been less drastic. From some of the reports given to the investigating authorities, it has emerged that not even a clearly illuminated ‘STOP’ sign was present at the post.

With dismal conditions such as these, we feel vulnerable, then why question the men in uniform for feeling exposed? Their susceptibility to a terrorist attack, many of which we have seen flash briefly on the news, is alarming. Placing the fault on them for not having the required equipment to defend themselves from soft targets is unfair.

The real question is, where does our money go?

Why do we continue to pour money into military programmes instead of providing our law enforcement with basic equipment?

If we don’t provide them with the necessary equipment, they should not be badgered every time there is a mishap.

Correction: This blog earlier stated that the taxi driver’s name was Ghulam Rasul. The error is regretted.

Saeed Ur Rehman

Saeed Ur Rehman

A human Rights activist and self taught polyglot, Saeed is a freelance article writer and blogger.

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

  • AB

    Sorry Mr Saeed, cant agree with you. The reason of not stopping on the Rangers/ Police call is that we all know about the post intervention scenarios, they simply take money from civilians and then let them go, this is the regular practice in metropolis. If we (civilians) dont give them then they trap us in false cases, direct shooting isnt the solution, he can shoot somewhere else, provided The Rangers are trained for these situations, in my view Rangers are already rusted and lack of training as well.Recommend

  • Balaj

    Pretty good arguement.Recommend

  • Rabia

    The name of the taxi driver is not Ghulam Rasul. Pls get your facts straight before supporting the rangers for their extra-judicial killings. Recommend

  • Khurram Awan

    @AB Kindly dont degrade the Rangers. Rangers always act in an Unbiased manners and they dont ask for Bribes as you want to imply. I can guarantee you that if you will not stop on CheckPosts even in America and In Europe then you will see the same fate. Rather than making it an issue we must educate our public that on check post if some security agency tell you stop then you have to stop and as a simple as that. You cannot make excuses that you dont want to stop but Rangers should not stop you. Rangers SOP ( Standard Operating Procedure ) includes to fire upon an individual if they consider them imminent threat. That driver did not stopped and without any indication he reversed the Car and Rangers in panic opened fire and we should remember many Rangers have been killed by Car Bombers and after that we cannot blame rangers to be extra cautious with incoming cars.Recommend

  • imaan.sheikh

    @Rabia: Thank you for pointing that out. The error has been corrected and is regretted.
    Regards,
    The Express Tribune Blogs deskRecommend

  • AB

    Thanks @Khurram Awan: But I think you cant compare US/ UK to Pakistan. Life is more precious in these countries then in PK. Then the bribe thing is my own experience, so you cant argue on it. Can you point out any ONE incident where Rangers tackle the grave situation with perfection and bravery? Yes they do the operations and outcome is NIL of all these operations. Did they revert any suicide attack? NO. So in my view keeping them in cities for so long time has rusted them and now they are same as Police and cant handle the situations. You gave the example of US/ UK So here the Police first Warn you then Open the fire on your toes, or any other part that is not Fatal.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    Absolutely right..The authorities are responsible for not providing proper equipment and training. When inevitable happens, they handover a poor Jawan to vultures who are out their hunting and de-moralizing entire force. Shame on them.Recommend

  • Insaan

    Author: “What most of us fail to recognize is the fact that the Rangers of Pakistan are not provided with the necessary equipment to carry out their duties”

    A good mind is the necessary equipment Ranger’s need to carry out their duties.
    Lot of innocents get killed in tribal areas and Baluchistan and no one talks about it.
    Rangers are used to killing.

    According to brother of Taxi driver there was no blood in the Taxi or any bullet holes in the driver seat.

    If 4 Rangers with guns can’t control a man without any weapon, I don’t what else can they do.

    If I remember correctly 2 judges were forced to leave the country by ISI in previous ranger’s shooting case because they refused to tow the line of Rangers/ISI.

    Pakistan is a country where a judge does not feel secure enough to do his job honestly.Recommend

  • Rabia

    All those speaking in favor of the rangers should meet the taxi driver’s wife and their one and half-year old son Zohaib, who saw his father being killed by the rangers.Recommend

  • Shamy

    Good article. However, can i ask the writer why Rangers can’t aim at the tyres ?
    And can i ask everyone else who think Rangers are to be blamed why the Taxi driver didnt stop when asked to ? Would your parents not stop if Rangers asked you to ? Simple logic of obeying the law.Recommend

  • Amna Rizvi

    Wow.
    In the case of sarfaraz, there were many rangers vs 1 young unarmed individual. Rangers could have butted him with the gun?

    Sorry ET, this is not your standard!Recommend

  • A Abid S

    Killing of an innocent person is never justified..regardless of what the situation is. You can not bring back the dead..that 19 year old boy was begging the ranger for his life…what was the threat then?? from that point blank even a tear gas shell would be fatal…this incident is beyond brutal and for someone to defend this is pure evil and ignorant. There was a year old child in the car who will never see his dad again, same guy who this kid use to wake up next to, same guy who was his hero, same guy who would smile at all his actions, same guy who would love him the most. Only because some trigger happy cop was on a power and ego trip…
    Those who give examples of US or UK just youtube police chases and you will see how many are shot.. Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Shamy: And can i ask everyone else who think Rangers are to be blamed why the Taxi driver didnt stop when asked to ?

    It is good to use common sense once in a while.

    Taxi driver’s kid could have taken his attention away for a moment. When the driver realized Rangers want him to stop he backed up his Taxi.

    Rangers could have simply asked Taxi driver to come out with his hands raised and told him to drop on his knees or just lie flat with his hands stretched

    According to Driver’s brother, no blood was found in the Taxi. No bullet holes in Driver’s seat.

    Looks like driver was killed outside the Taxi.

    Ranger who shot him claimed “he shot driver because he suspected he had kidnapped a child.”

    Senior officials handed over rangers to police only after Investigation.

    Recommend

  • A Abid S

    So you are saying that since ranger does not have resources they can shoot who ever they want?Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    @Rabia: We all feel sorry for taxi driver and his family. He made a fatal mistake, but playing victims card and punishing a Jawan for doing his duty is a bigger mistake.
    @Shamy, Rangers didn’t aim the tyres because they are not trained to do so. Everywhere in the world, police or armed forces will shoot to kill. Sometimes ago in USA, a person who was threatening police with knife was shot 37 times. Recommend

  • Aman

    u just can’t shoot anyone to death thats all….Recommend

  • Mujtaba

    Oh Yes.. Rangers are not to be blamed.. Public ia to be blamed.. How dare thy defy the orders of our ‘pious’ and ‘law-abiding’ Rangers? Yes, they should be shot in the head for this Insolence?

    Rangers personnel are superior to us, inferior general citizens.

    PS: It is not about the equipment but about attitude and mentality!!Recommend

  • Mir

    At check point or any where law enforcement give clear signal to stop. As a good citizen you must stop. You do not have to fear that policeman wants bribe,If you are not breaking the law and your papers are up to date. Police man cannot do any thing. If you decide to run ,Please think about your family what they will do without you. I 100% support the law reinforcement agency to shoot id any one obey the law. to achieve law and order specially in Karachi.
    I salute to the ranger who shot the runaway taxi driver.Recommend

  • True Karachiwala

    Total bakwass ! Pakistan security agencies themselves are so afraid that even a single taxi driver appears to them to be a danger. They do not have humanity, simple. Just condemn act like this and courts must take them to task.Recommend

  • Muhammad Ishfaq

    Strongly disagree with the blogger here…. “The problem is not lack of gadgets; the problem is lack of respect for human lives”.As many here pointed out they could have fired at tires, they could have informed the next post but they chose to kill, same thing they did in Sarfaraz Shah case. The poor guy was not Grappling with rangers he was pleading with them for his dear life.God forbids if someone points a gun at You Mr.Blogger, only then you would know how it feels.Recommend

  • https://www.facebook.com/nahyanmirza Nahyan Mirza

    Every few months we hear of Rangers personell opening fire on vehicles which do not stop when asked to during snap checking. People have been killed in this. What I ask is that the Rangers are officially law enforcers in Karachi and empowered to conduct spot checks and stop vehicles. Why, if they are innocent, do the drivers not stop when asked to?? If a law enforcer asks you to stop and you have nothing to hide you should stop, If you don’t he will assume you are a criminal escaping and may shoot to stop you at his discretion…………. I personally have been stopped numerous times over the years for spot checking.. I never carry car documents or anything else besides my CNIC.. I have never had to face any harassment.. Nor have I ever had to pay any bribes to police.. If you are respectful to them they will be good to you.. Unless you are breaking laws you have no need to fear..Recommend

  • Visibly Invisible

    @Mir: So if LEA can shoot and kill anyone for not obeying laws than what do we have courts for? What happened to being innocent until proven guilty…
    @Khurram Awan:
    How can you guarantee that in the western world police would fatally injure or kill someone for not stopping. The only time police here shoot at someone when they are being fired upon or being threatened even then they aim for non-vital organs and each time someone gets injured that involves police there is an independent body that reviews the circumstances. Please do some research before making assumptions.
    @the blogger: the shooting of Sarfraz Shah was not “alleged” as you have wrongly pointed out. The Rangers official was convicted in the court of law for the murder. There is a difference between alleged and convicted.Recommend

  • Wali Dahot

    With Security Forces like Rangers who needs Talibans and Terrorists.
    In Our Village in Rural Hyderabad, Rangers are deployed by OGDCL to stop petrolium smuggling, but what they are doing is harassing Villagers.
    Yesterday they came to close shops and almost arrested a 16 year old kid, when Villagers gathered in numbers, They threatened to Kill us All, but then Elders said sorry to them, and they left leaving kid behind.
    What my Point is Rangers is a Border Security Force, they don’t know how to treat CIVILIANS, they should be thrown back to borders, Period..!Recommend

  • abbas khalid

    I can’t believe that a reputable paper would publish such a error filled article. Common ET your readers deserve better. Hire a editor or something. I mean which video of sarfraz shah did this guy see. Was he gripping or pleading for his life?. Even if he was gripping there were five to six rangers VS one small puny boy. SUCH A LIFE THREATING SITUATION FOR THAT RANGER.

    As for other incident it has been established that the taxi driver had stopped and he was trying to reverse. There was no fast car hurling toward that manRecommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/430/faraz-talat/ Faraz Talat

    Leave the culprit alone, pliss!

    He is just a poor over-worked, minimum-wage worker who had a fight with his missus last night, and was having a real bad day and had no equipment or nothin’ and so totally exhausted, and under them conditions, I do declare, he is relieved of his responsibility to act lawfully and not kill innocent civilians!

    Do not blame, pliss!Recommend

  • Moiz Omar

    I can’t agree with the death of the 19 year old man, but I guess I can agree with you on the death of the taxi driver. He should have stopped.Recommend

  • A Abid S

    what you do all supporting the rangers means that it was taxi wala’s fault…Okay he did not stop..big deal people do it all the time all over the world…shooting someone is no excuse…what if he did not see the stop sign..what if his brakes had failed..what if his kid needed immediate medical attention..there are so many what ifs…they are law enforcers…their job is risk based…resign if they can not deal with it…Recommend

  • Parvez

    You rightly ask as to where does the money go………….look at the life style of any of our security agencies high and mighty ( 3 star and above )…………the 2 stars live their lives dreaming of becoming 3 stars……..and you will get your answer.
    Recommend

  • Rabia

    @Mir: You disgust me by saying that you salute the ranger personnel who shot the ‘runaway’ taxi driver. There was no blood found in the taxi, and according to the family, the boy was in his father’s lap while he was driving. So the family believes that the man was made to stop the car, the rangers pulled him out and then fired at him, and later they fired at the car. Recommend

  • ali

    The rangers personnel were on a bike, they could’ve chased the taxi if the driver refused to stop. They could’ve maybe fired a few shots in the air to make him stop. There was no fast car hurtling towards the rangers personnel. What happened that day was a cold blooded murder and no matter what the author says, you can’t justify it.Recommend

  • Muhammad Yasir

    @AB:

    Exactly, The author’s taser gun idea sounds stupid, They had no reason to shoot an unarmed guy, who was begging for life, Even after shooting no body took him to hospital, its simply inhuman.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Ch. Allah Daad: but playing victims card and punishing a Jawan for doing his duty is a bigger mistake.

    When did shooting unarmed civilians became duty for a Jawan?
    Why would rangers offer 1.8 million Rupees and a job to the widow of the victim?Recommend

  • Maverick

    Although it was a sad incident, but we Pakistanis should try and think out of the box. Although this should not have happened, but I cannot understand what else a Ranger could have done in such a situation keeping in mind the delicate circumstances in Karachi! No doubt it was a huge error but
    What if the taxi driver were a terrorist who did’nt stop? I’m not defending the rangers, but I think their side of the story should also be heard, should’nt it be?Recommend

  • Shamy

    @Insaan:
    “Rangers could have simply asked Taxi driver to come out with his hands raised and told him to drop on his knees or just lie flat with his hands stretched”
    Dude..which world are you living in ? People blow themselves up these days and dont give anyone a chance. This is not America remember ?? infact raising ones hand is the easiest way to detonate a bomb on the body..lol.. It is good to use common sense buddy !Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Maverick: What if the taxi driver were a terrorist who did’nt stop?

    I think this incidence happened in evening or night and there was no lighted stop sign. I don’t think every one was being stopped. One could have easily missed some hand signal to stop.

    In this case there is no evidence that person killed was a terrorist. Evidence indicates person was killed outside the cab. One Ranger who shot him claimed, that he killed him because he suspected Taxi driver was a child kidnapper. Ranger officials handed over him to police only after questioning the guy.

    Terrorists when move probably have cars ahead of them to make sure everything is safe.

    A terrorist would have stopped and blown these rangers up.

    It is quiet possible because Taxi driver stopped and backed up, rangers demanded money from him. He refused and got killed outside his cab. Later rangers fired the cab on all sides.Recommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    It looks like every one here is a terrorist expert and knw the Karachi situaion very well….

    Secondly the witness told tht the rangers killed him direclty…I dont get why would rangers kill the guy after question him…????
    Like do you ppl think tht Rangers are just blood sucking jawans roaming around….!!!!Recommend

  • Mashood

    Let us be fair with the picture. Ranger’s is a not a Metropolitan Force. They are not trained in accordance with Police Civil Training Manuals. That means they will respond in a different manner as compared to Police. When you commit a crime in any metropolitan, the police smiles with a mockery as the perceive it as a chance to extort some money. We know there are hundreds of enquiries in any country you name it. The term bribery and corruption are not from hindi urdu or arabic. They came into existence just because the crime was there. Hence if Rangers are called the society should be prepared to embrace sharp bites once in while.

    If you analyse the first case which surfaced against rangers that again has been all videotaped. The person who was arrested was no saint and not an innocent. He was lucky his brother was a journalist and it was a chance for all anti pakistan sources to blow out the scene and call that rascal as innocent. He is clearly heard in the video that ” the arm is without bullets”. Arm without bullets. Hundreds of citizens in Karachi are robbed every day on gunpoint and if they are caught, absence of bullets gets them evicted from court. But what about the hundreds who are robbed?. The so called co-op media was happy as the rangers got death penalty by the blind courts as they are happy to hand over popular judgements and the morale of the forces went low. The gansters must have smiled and their patrons would have got an air of relief.

    This time again a person who breached was stopped by rangers in the fashion they are trained. Then why to blame them?. There is a difference between dogs and wolves. We have hired wolves to guard the flock. Any chicken crossing the line will be bit, wont it? Let us have some sanity and shed our egos. What is this Defiant Taxi Driver carried loads of explosives and would had hit mosque or imam bara?.

    Just few days back the Hazara Shias ( this is the name they identify themselves ) killed a man , allegedly wearing an explosive jacket. Are we heading towards street wars?. I am glad the hazaras averted the danger. But what if the trespasser was another taxi driver defying the community laws? or simply a boy with a gun ( without bullets )
    The solution to such issues is simple. Send Rangers Back and Filter the police. Seems an impossible job isnt it. We all are hooked up to either religious blocks or ethnic clans believe it or not. Shame on all of usRecommend

  • Daniyal Alam

    Sorry Sir,cant agree with u.According to me the law enforcement agencies are one of the most privileged institutions of Pakistan they have the best equipment and accessories that a third world country can afford.Paramilitary forces of Pakistan are 10times better equipped than India.
    As far as this shooting is concerned the Rangers personnel should have shot the tyres to stop the vehicle or atleast should have shot in air once before shooting straight.These are highly trained professional and should act accordingly.We are a third world country and are doing the utmost we can to equip our forces now they need to repay our investment.It was a taxpayers bullet with which he shot a tax payerRecommend

  • Sane

    This shall always happen till criminals are assigned to curb crime.Recommend

  • Mashood

    @Daniyal. Mr Daniyal I respect your comments. So Tax payer’s investment and shot a tax payer. When you say tax payer I am sure you mean a direct Tax Payer?. I can bet on this without yet even knowing the details of the ownership of the taxi etc that even the simple road tax would not have been paid by that law resisting and fleeing driver who we lament today. I am sure we are not following prey to the popular media. In times when some one needs the most , we ignore them the most. That is the sorrow our relationship with civilisations has experienced. Our downfall has not been a crackling downpour but a slow and steady sprout nurtured by emotions of hate within our ranks. Our institutions need our support. No doubt they are corrupt and inefficient but yet we will have to own it if we wish to have a global identity. The second choice is to absolve ourselves from our identities which I am sure is pretty hard to do. Even centuries after that so called social mingle, we will be identified as the ex-pakistanis.

    The action of Ranger’s sounds brutal but it is not. We should learn to obey law and orders when we are told to and stop supporting the unabiding law breakers. Social fabric is not build on wishes. “Fear” is one of the factors which drive humans and animals as well to “Follow”. Police has already been castrated by the political goons who hire the so called think tanks and even politicians as their Keeps. Criminals are turned into heroes and ultimately they come and rule us.

    Army, Rangers, Police, Academia, Judiciary, Media, Business and etc , all are tainted with odds and ready to sell the soul for some dimes. So is it so bad?. I reckon NO. You and Me and others are here talking about this incident and either supporting the act or opposing it. But the dialogue should lead towards one single agenda. Improvement of the system, defining our role and owning the system.Recommend

  • ABC

    Author are you trying to say that the rangers are not provided with proper equipments so they have the right to go on and start killing innocent people on the streets? WOW. Recommend