Rangers shooting: Lust for blood

Published: June 11, 2011

This video holds up a mirror to our society, and if the reflection is ugly and shocking, who can we blame but ourselves?

The video of Sarfaraz Shah’s last traumatic moments imploded on to cyber space with some enthusiasm and a profusion of expletives. Messages like “check kar yeh video” (check out this video), “here’s the full video, yaar,”  “sharing the HD version,” “uncut footage” and “exclusive video” pepper the Facebook newsfeed. Bloodied and battered thumbnails accompany the excited posts. Lust for blood, it seems, is not exclusive to criminals.

Slowly, steadily and grimly, Sarfaraz Shah’s life was extinguished on tape. His blood was squeezed out drop by drop, fanning out in a wider and wider crimson circle around his wiry frame, as he lay on the ground beseeching for help:

Haspataal puhancha day yar, mujhay haspataal to puhancha day!’’ (Take me to hospital, my friend, please take me to hospital!)

How ironic that Sarfaraz was begging for help from the same people who had looked him in the eye and shot him at point blank range moments ago. The very same “law enforcers” in the garb of Rangers who have been deputed to safeguard Karachi and it’s besieged people. As Sarfaraz lay face down in a pool of his own blood, the footage showed a few pair of boots ambling past him.

While the ‘guardians’ looked on calmly as Sarfaraz writhed in agony on the floor of a park, people were strolling and jogging close by, with many avidly watching this gory spectacle. Not one of these Karachiites stepped forward and asked the Rangers to take Sarfaraz to the hospitals nearby, or tried to assist him in any way. Not only is justice blind and deaf in this land, but so are the people who do not have an iota of sympathy or empathy for another citizen in pain.

When Sarfaraz was finally taken to Jinnah hospital, the doctors said that he was still breathing, but died moments later due to excessive bleeding.

A Matric student, Sarfaraz had a zest for life which was all too visible in the video as he tried to claw away from the clutches of the Grim Reaper. All he needed to survive was time so that his torn body would have healed, but those precious few moments were denied to him.

The initial report filed by the Rangers said that the boy was killed in an “armed encounter.” It was only when the video of his cold blooded murder was made public that the statement was retracted when it became evident that Sarfaraz was not armed and was of no threat whatsoever to these heavily armed officials.

Our ubiquitous Interior Minister Rehman Malik says that although Sarfaraz Shah’s killing was unjustified, he was a robber who was handed over to the Rangers by the park guard.

Many people have the audacity to justify Sarfaraz’s death by saying such instant accountability needs to be meted out to criminals. To such confused compatriots, I want to ask:

Do you really trust our law enforcers?

Would you let the women of your family go to a police thana (station) to file an FIR?

If the answer is no, then why do you set so much trust in their version of events?

Tomorrow, they could gun you down and say you were a dacoit, and produce a gun with your fingerprints emblazoned across it.

Whatever happened to the central tenet of justice that a man has the right to be innocent until proved guilty?

If vigilantes and police are going to mete out justice summarily and brutally, then pray what is the need for courts?

Let’s just go back to the Stone Ages and bludgeon each other to death.

Amidst all the fury directed at the trigger happy Rangers and the government, it has to be said that they are not the only ones who share the blame for our diseased and rotten society.

Who were those spineless silent spectators who let Sarfaraz die an undignified and useless death?

This video holds up a mirror to our society, and if the reflection is ugly and shocking, who can we blame but ourselves?

Maheen Usmani

Maheen Usmani

A freelance writer who has covered subjects ranging from socio-political issues to women's rights to counter terrorism, sports, travel, culture and music. Maheen tweets @MaheenUsmani (twitter.com/MaheenUsmani)

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

  • http://scallywagandvagabond.com scallywag

    So much for justice and the oppressive heavy handed rule of the land. But then again, this is Pakistan, where the law of the jungle holds more sway than the value of one man. Sometimes one has to wonder who the real terrorist is…


  • atts

    sad but very true, we r dead as a nation …. dead to our misery n suffering, dead to the atrocities…… dead dead deadRecommend

  • vijay wadhwani

    Pakistan actually belongs to the medieval ages. Why cant your army also declare itself as a branch or an extension of Al Qaida.
    These are events which are extremely horrific and can only be practiced in Pakistan, Somalia or Yemen. So, welcome to the planet of terrorists.Recommend

  • http://olio-gallimaufry.blogspot.com/ Geetali

    How much lower can human depravity go? How brutalised have we become that we bludgeon a young lad to death, or we watch him being attacked and do not raise a squeak. The problem is that the police was taught this brutality in the colonial era, by the colonial masters. Yet, when those colonial masters left, their faithful servants forgot that they are nnow the custodians of their own people and that this is a free society.
    Truly truly shameful. Hope the killers have been caught and will be punished. Recommend

  • sumer syedain

    Maheen, your writing just captures the essence and feelings of so many of us who are not able to express ourselves, keep up the brilliant work.Recommend

  • HCJohn

    Time has come for accountability and change. Justice must be done.Recommend

  • Saman

    Maheen, thanks for writing about this horrendous atrocity. The only way to describe how I felt after watching the footage was ”numb”. You would imagine this to be a scene from a movie rated ”R”; it boggles the mind to think that this actually happened in the middle of a relatively safe and affluent part of Karachi. As I watched the poor young man beg to be taken to the hospital, all I could think was that south city hospital is a few hundred yards away! Forget the animals that shot him, none of the park-goers stopped to take him there. Have we become that apathetic as a nation? This incident happened to be caught on camera in broad daylight, God knows how many Sarfaraz’s die at the hands of our supposed ”protectors”.Recommend

  • Abu Bakr Siddiqui

    I don’t know why there is so much hue and cries on Rangers killing an unarmed youth? Streets of Karachi witnessed thousands of such killings in 90’s, most recent was in Lyari, Video of Kalu Current is also on youtube in which he was tortured to death by Rangers, Shia Organizations claims killings of youth in Liaquatabad recently and in Rizvia,
    So talk about only this killing? because this is caught on tape? and what about past killings and future killings that will not be capture on tape? Incident of Kharotabad was also raised just because it was caught on tape otherwise our holy cows would blamed all of them as suicide bombers.
    The only solution is to change the mind set of our Forces who thinks they are above the law and bring them into the fold of law, law should be same for everyone.
    And Pakistanis need to stop considering these Law enforcers as holy cows and stop giving certificates of Patriotism because all of this is going on in the name of Pakistan, Greater National Interest and Recommend

  • Shahid

    Maheen, you raise a very important point – the absence of justice in our society. hopefully this will result in prosecution of the guilty. Well written.Recommend

  • Munawar Hussain

    How brutally law enforcers have killed a young person at Karrachi. Our so called Government is still trying to defend this brutality. My heart is bleeding and could not even think that it has happened in a Muslim country.
    We have listen about such incidents only by Indian army in Kashmir and Israelian forces at palistine. What is the difference now? Did our leadership now have the moral authority to criticise India or Israel for their brutality at Kashmir and Palistine???? Recommend

  • Salahuddin

    It shivers me and my nerves when ever I think of this brutal act. Unfortunately we have only given priority to gun and gun-men, ever since our independance. The mony which have been lost on arms and armour should have been spent on developing a progressive society. Now, while every one is aware that our enemies are within us, we must stand to demand that no one is above justice. Every one should be made accountable.Recommend

  • Sam

    inhuman , just so inhuman.
    same goes on in Baluchistan and other parts of Pakistan, this one was caught on camera while many are just heard as “4 terrorist killed in balochistan bla bla” and yet many jahil log dont bother about these things and thy are more interested in “CIA and RAW” are destroying Pakistan … Recommend

  • Dr. Ghulam Jilany Khan

    This boy was caught red handed during robbery,(Main Majboor tha yar)
    The issue is being highlighted because he was a brother of a journalist,
    the act of rangers is highly cruel…
    what ever he was, a robber, a thief, a snatcher or whatever,
    the officials have no right to fire on a weaponless person specially when he was arrested (Along with gun, which was in the hand of another officer warped in red cloth)
    lemme tell you one more thing dear viewers, This boy (who had died) also tried to snatch the gun from one of the ranger officer when he was being asked to get on the floor, on his knees or into the prison van ,
    At the end, I’ll again say it was not the justice to fire at him, RESPONSIBLE INDIVIDUALS MUST BE PUNISHED ACCORDINGLYRecommend

  • Dee

    Sad and horrific truth of our society. But this is what our ‘patriotic’ Rangers can do to the rebellious Karachiites. Old story new faces.Recommend

  • Ms Marium

    *Can we just stop discussing this topic ? My heart bleeds whenever I saw the photos or footage .. how could they do this to a 18 year old kid?How could they ….?? *Recommend

  • parvez

    Nicely written. What justice does one expect and from whom ?? Recommend

  • Sacha Pakistani

    i watched this video and it was really a horrifying experience.for me. thanks for this concise yet comprehensive write up maheen. Unfortunately extra judicial killing has become a norm in pakistan. and this concept has been supported all along by our tribal society in rural areas and by our military through jihadi proxis all over india. Recommend

  • Maqbool

    @vijay wadhwani:
    Should I send you the links of some of many similar events in India? Before lecturing others, set your own country right.Recommend

  • Sana

    “Haspataal puhancha day yar, mujhay haspataal to puhancha day!’’

    Ever since I saw the video, I can’t get Sarfaraz’s plea out of my head. Can you? Recommend

  • http://fruitforbidden.wordpress.com/2011/06/12/law-enforcement-agencies-friend-or-foe/ The Forbidden Fruit

    It seems that now crimes (no matter how heinous) have become acceptable to us because questioning them might risk our own safety. I wish jihadis, instead of killing people, could wage jihad to SAVE people! We all must do jihad to SAVE lives, to care for others fearlessly in the name of God!Recommend

  • pakistani

    We have become worst than the ARABS. Our prophet (SA) have given so much sacrifice to teach the values of Islam thats seems wavering and misused. Requesting the whole nation and the people of pakistan to keep their difference wether it being religious, sectorial or ETC. Humanity comes first. Respect the God’s most valuble creation ” The MAN” and please do not drop more blood into the soil. The earth has its limit to accept such hineous crimes. May Allah almighty save our nation and protect us and show us the path which Prophet has shown us. Ameen Suma Ameen.Recommend

  • Ilmana Fasih

    Very aptly have you sketched the whole scenario in words, Maheen. Have we really touched the bottom or is there more to come ? I often wonder.Recommend

  • colonel faridi

    I am quoting from the article

    “Not one of these Karachiites stepped forward and asked the Rangers to take Sarfaraz to the hospitals nearby, or tried to assist him in any way. Not only is justice blind and deaf in this land, but so are the people who do not have an iota of sympathy or empathy for another citizen in pain”

    I bet if you had been there on the spot you would have done the same.Recommend

  • http://www.flickr.com/ameerhamza Ameer Hamza

    Someone at the bloggers’ conference stated that there can’t be any revolution in Pakistan like that of Egypt. How true! We are a dead nation. Recommend

  • Saleem Khan

    An other BANGLADESH is taking birth…It was late 1960’s when same things started happening in BANGLADESH, where Army officer were used to call Bengalis…BANGALI KUTTA.

    Today, our civilians are target of them…I don’t think this will last for long…things are changing..people are getting courage and media is taking big steps in bringing truth to common public…I had no idea what exactly happened that escalated INDIA to attack on Pakistan in 1965…but now Media did discussions with that time professionals and it showed that it was in return of OPERATION JIBRALTOR, that was planned by Army and they did in Kashmir but in return India attacked on Lahore and rest of main borders.

    We are paying 50% of taxes to feed this inc. and in return we are seeing today…what is written above….Saleem Shahzad is an other case too.

    Anyways, time is changing very fast and you will find real change in coming years. Allah bless us and our country i.e. actually an outcome of civilians struggle lead by Muhammad Ali Jinnah…not any General or Military Inc.Recommend

  • maheen Usmani

    @colonel faridi
    Please don’t tar me with the same brush as those citizens of Karachi who watched a young boy writhe in pain like a worm and die in a pool of blood. If I had subscribed to this kind of a callous mindset, I would not have bothered to write on this topic. How could any human being have ignored that kid’s plea to be taken to hospital.. not one, but 3 hospitals which were so close. South City, Ziauddin and Heart Centre… so close and yet so far.
    @Ms Marium
    I hear you. But tell me why should we brush under the carpet such travesties of justice? I know the reflection in the mirror is ugly, but we need to look at it unflinchingly so we can bring about a change in our society. First diagnosis, then treatment. Recommend

  • http://www.nooru.wordpress.com Nooru Jalal

    The heinous act of cruelty left no margin for investigation. What is there to determine after the footage?

    Top brace military and civilian ‘human termites’ are trying to justify this killing. From generals to attorney generals, from DG to IG, from waderas to khans.. these human ants have fed into our state resources and pushing us aside into a mass poverty, ignorance, intolerance – which leads the poor, ignored H.being to breed such actions. Our enemy is within us with and without uniform.

    Hats off to Maheen!!!! She is a voice for women- I say! Keep delivering your thoughts against injustice and ignorance.Recommend

  • http://www.bvmcpals.blogspot.com Rahul Vasudevan

    Excellent blog as usual. It completely brings out the feeling of angst and despondency that one is faced with upon viewing such a gruesome scene. The moral and ethical dilemma confronting the people who were at the scene is understandable considering the fact that these are authorised, trigger happy goons carrying dangerous weapons. I differ a bit from your opinion here that the people must be held completely accountable. I am sure there must have been some people who genuinely wished to help, but were deterred by the gun toting, so called defenders of the nation. Truly a shameful incident which reeks of the high handedness that has crept into the armed forces. That apart, your writing is amazingly eloquent, and the ability to to keep the reader engaged is indeed praiseworthy. I wish I could write like you. Oh BTW, I read your comment to the guy who was arguing on your wall. You should seriously think of taking up writing satire.Recommend

  • http://bhagatsinghstudy.blogspot.com Chaman Lal

    I dare not see this videoRecommend

  • Maheen Usmani

    //I read your comment to the guy who was arguing on your wall. You should seriously think of taking up writing satire.//
    The doctor you refer to is Dr Ghulam Jilany Khan, the same one as above, who has apparently been copying and pasting his comment here and there. I answered him on this wall: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=160212437378450&id=115954538491814
    Woe betide me that I should have such people on my FB friends list who think that this issue is only being highlighted, because Sarfaraz was the brother of a journalist, that he was armed and hence dangerous. What if it was the good doctor’s son or daughter at the mercy of the law enforcers.. would he still have advocated the same punishment?
    //I differ a bit from your opinion here that the people must be held completely accountable. I am sure there must have been some people who genuinely wished to help, but were deterred by the gun toting, so called defenders of the nation.//
    The point is that such silence in the face of abuse of authority also makes you complicit in the crime. Fear cripples and stuns and leads to the apathy and inertia which we are witnessing. Recommend

  • Saira

    the guy who was still making the video while the young boy begged to be taken to hospital
    was he human?Recommend

  • Anoop


    The links that you will post must be probably be not from the recent past but in Pakistan’s case it is.

    When was the last time you read about a riot in India? Or, the kind of things that happen regularly in Pakistan?Recommend

  • Boohiss

    @Vijay, The nation of Pakistan is mourning at this tragic incident. But you from india have to jump in as an opportunist to slander. Look at your own country first and yes it is well known that India is the proxy warrior waging wars against Pakistan under different cloaks.Recommend

  • yousaf hayt

    we are not a dead nation …We are a bored nation…murta hai tow murnay thou …Recommend

  • Janab

    @Vijay – You are tooting your horn in a Pakistani news paper on a tragic event. According to an old saying, losers promote themselves by degrading others and not by their own merit.Recommend

  • Yasir Hasan

    The now dead guy himself said in the video “Meray pas naqli gun hai” (I have a fake gun) and Mein Majboor tha (I was forced to do it)… Rangers killing the person was wrong of course.. However, the guy was indeed a dacoit…he died because of his stupidity of reaching for the gun… Media should not project him as the hero… Both parties were wrong…

    You have quoted his statements that are making this story more sensational and spicy…How about the quotes that I have mentioned????

    Once again, I am not justifying the rangers killing him, but media (including you) should be responsible enough to provide complete coverage of the event…Media will never do that because a headline
    “Nehata, baygunnah naujawan rangers ke firing sai halak” (Unarmed, innocent youth killed by rangers) is far more sensational than,
    “Aik dacu ko jaali police muqabalay mein maar deya gaya”… ( A dacoit died in a fake encounter)…. Recommend

  • Abhi

    @vijay wadhwani
    Your comment is very inappropriate. There are these kind of incidents in India as well and there is no need to boast.
    Good thing is that now the press is highlighting these issues and hopefully there will be some change in attitude of police and law enforcement agencies.Recommend

  • Alien

    Sad but true…. its about time we wake up and see the picture……..this has got to STOP otherwise it could be me, you or anyone next time………the Murderers should be publicly hanged to set example for others, Justice should be done IMMEDIATELY.Recommend

  • Maheen Usmani

    @Yasir Hasan
    The problem is that most people have started taking extreme positions. In your narrowed point of view, everything is black or white. There are no shades of grey.
    If you read my blog, you will see that nowhere have I dubbed Sarfaraz a “hero”. He was just a citizen of this land who should have been given the same justice and right to appeal as you and I.
    As for him being a “dacoit”, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Where is the evidence that he was threatening the armed Rangers? He was begging for his life.. and if you cannot see that, then you are also as spineless and afraid as the people in the park. Recommend

  • sylar

    even though the video has gone viral i have refused to watch it because the world doesnt need any more desencitized people as it is. what bothers me is the fact that NO ONE bothered to stop the rangers or intervene at any point in time. plus, what were the media personal doing? arent they humans? dont they feel WRONG filming this inhuman act? if all they could do was tape the bloody episode then im sorry to say we are a nation with hearts of steel and eyes of glass.

    thank you for writing this. its extremly sad but something that we need to fix asap Recommend

  • Deen Sheikh

    Having personally been assaulted by the rangers, I kinda have the sense of their love for abusing their power on the general public. Very unfortunate, I fear the so called guardians more than the criminals that they are supposed to protect us from us. I was assaulted by the check post supervisor while I was in the middle of answering his Question, he hit me on the premise that I was lying to him. After seeing this video, a part of me feels that it could have been me, who could have been on the receiving end of fire arm assault that evening, the thought off it freaks me out. They have the license to kill, and they could have shot me that night back in March.


  • Deen Sheikh

    What interests me, is just how many people attacked me and mocked me when I sent in a letter to the editor communicating physical abuse I experienced, all because of either due to personal animosity or due to me belonging to a certain socioeconomic group in society. Even back then, when I brought this to the attention of Senior Rangers officials, back then also, they were like I should consider myself fortunate that they did not use fire power against me, because they have a license to do so and have killed infact quite a few young people. I am talking about way back in March. Recommend

  • sumera naqvi

    Maheen your article offers good insight….I guess the knights should be made to stand in courts and made accountable….it’s about timeRecommend

  • Yasir Hasan

    @Maheen Usmani… first of all reply from the author…Wow… :-)…Secondly, you may not have called him a hero, but you haven’t provided the whole picture too, if the blog contained statements of Sarfraz that I have mentioned, then that would be presenting the complete picture…..
    Can you please shed some light on the facts (he said it himself) that he was ‘majboor’ and was carrying a fake gun???? If these statements are not proof enough that he was a dacoit then what is? why would you go to a public park carrying a fake gun? no one forced him to say these words, it was his own words and you can hear them on the same video which acts as the basis of many blogs, columns including yours…

    I am not justifying the act of rangers, it was a needless murder and the guy should have taken to the hospital… and the involved personals should be handled according to law…Point…

    My point of view in this regard is that the guy was a dacoit (based on his own words) and media is not highlighting that aspect of the whole incident…

    Unfortunately, in Pakistan for very long time there are no “Haq (right) and Batil (wrong)” encounters… we are stuck in the the vicious cycle of Batil v Batil fixtures. Benazir v Nawaz Sharif, Nawaz Sharif v Musharaf, PML Q v PPP, PMLN v PPP and PMLQ, America v Osama, MQM v ANP, ANP v Taliban, Army (forces) v well rest of the nation.. :-)… and the list goes on and on…..in all these and many other encoutners, both parties are wrong and ‘might is right’ decides who survives and who continue to live… Recommend

  • Humanity

    A disgusting proof of a failed state and a comatose nation that worships a constitution which legalized persecution and molestation of human rights.


  • Lubna Faruqui


    This is what our law enforcers are doing to innocent people. Tomorrow it will be our turn and they will say we were a threat or that we were terrorists/dacoits.. take your pick.Recommend

  • Shock horror

    Pakistanis have to look honestly into the practices that go on in the country and recognise that law breaking, double dealing, engaging in terrorism, and incompetence have become institutionalised at all levels of governance. Unless this mind set is sustainably changed over a period of time, the state of affairs in the country will continue to get worse and the country just might possibly implode. If any of your readers think that this cannot happen to a nuclear power, think again and look back at the break up of Soviet Union, not just a nuclear power but a super power!Recommend

  • Amir
  • Neha Gauhar

    We have turned into an intolerant society and have become immune to the injustice prevalent in our society …being a nationalist and proud of my roots all my life… Today I am ashamed of being a Pakistani.Recommend

  • Maheen Usmani

    @Yasir Hasan & Company

    I am posting this link here for people like you who are calling Sarfaraz Shah a criminal on the basis of thin air. Please read, absorb, evaluate and learn to look at facts before rushing to judge others.

  • Yasir Hasan

    @Maheen Usmani, Then what does his statements mean? Recommend

  • Yasir Hasan

    and now we are suddenly believing the police version… :-).. my stance on this issue is not based on the police or media reports… you can read my comments again… all I am saying is that the media is not presenting the whole picture… basis of my stance are the statements made by the deceased fellow from the video… Recommend

  • Maheen Usmani

    @Yasir Shah

    Kindly don’t indulge in protracted debate when you don’t have a leg to stand on. Here are eyewitness accounts from two people present in that park that day:


  • Yasir Hasan

    @Maheen Usmani: Shah nahi Hasan… :-)… well the matter is in court now and let’s see what happens there.. but the way events are unfolding, I think the story is not simple as it looked initially… As a common person, now I am confused what to believe… Recommend

  • I Come In Peace

    LOL @ all the idiots that think he was trying to grab the officers gun. It was an instinctive reaction, he was merely trying to get the Ranger to take aim away from him, after all, it’s not everyday you’re faced with a G3 barrel staring at you. A lot of you would probably even forget your name if in a similar situation. Secondly, anyone that knows anything about guns (let alone morons bearing those guns) knows that an exit wound from a G3 rifle at point blank range would in most cases, lead to death due to blood loss. I’m sure Sarfaraz (RIP) would have preferred a shot to the head, it’s a much less painful way to go.

    Also, there’s a reason armed forces are taught martial arts..So they can subdue a criminal without resorting to lethal force! (Is that really such an absurd concept?) Wouldn’t a simple roundhouse kick have sufficed? Did they really have to shoot him not once, but twice? I’m sorry, even if the person shot was Osama Bin Laden, nobody’s buying this self defence crap. In fact, I have reason to believe Sarfaraz’s brother must have been involved in some sort of an anti Rangers campaign, because if they really cared about stopping robbers and if it really offended them to such a degree, they would have ended petty crimes a long time ago, but let’s face it, it’s not in their interest. It’s what reminds the public they need to be protected.Recommend

  • colonel faridi

    @maheen usmani
    Please dont take my words as an attack on yourelf, I appreciate what you are doing by writing these articles.
    What I tried to point out was that your supposition that public response was callous towards the incident is perhaps not right. Nobody from the public is supposed to interfere when rangers are doing their duty. If someone does he is almost certain to meet the same fate as Sarfaraz shah. So it is okay for the public to turn themselves into mere spectators. It is also wrong to say that the public did not try to take the victim to a hospital which was also not far away. Thing is that Sarfaraz was in the custody of the rangers and it was their resonsibility and not publics’ to take him to the hospital. Think of it. if rangers were to take him to the hospital why would they have shooted him in the first place. Of course they took him to hospital but only when they had become sure that he would not survive.Recommend

  • http://www.bvmcpals.blogspot.com Rahul Vasudevan

    i did wrong. one last time. Give me one chance to prove myself.

  • abbas

    @vijay wadhwani:
    u r no better than terrorists who generalize about mass populations and spread hatred and stereotypes… Recommend

  • Yasir Hasan

    Its the cases like these (http://tribune.com.pk/story/210440/the-release-of-malik-ishaq/), which make you wonder if going to courts is really the way out… Justice on streets may be the right solution….Recommend