Stories about crime

Unapologetic acid attackers: ‘She asked for it’

A few weeks ago, the tragic news of Fakhra Yunus’s suicide garnered extensive amounts of local and foreign media attention; women rights activists spoke up, politicians did the routine condemnation, lawyers demanded justice for a victim who no longer existed, who left precisely because people had forgotten her; her perseverance ran out as the general apathy of her society ran high. We all had become oblivious of her long before she killed herself. That is far worse than any kind of death – when your own people render you irrelevant. But this isn’t about Fakhra. This isn’t about Bilal Khar’s ...

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Lizards and target killers

Up until the numerous innocent murders last week, I used to be afraid of the occasional common household gecko, or chupkali, that I would see on the walls of my home. Immediately, I would call for the housekeeper to come upstairs and remove this creature, either by ushering it outside or by simply killing it.  But I wish not for the lizard to be killed anymore. It does not harm me. In fact, it eliminates the mosquitoes in my environment which might carry dengue fever or malaria. In a city where living things, be they human or reptilian, so frequently lose ...

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Naming and shaming rape victims

The Pakistani media can play an important role in assisting women. Journalists have the power to reveal hidden and not-so-hidden biases that society has regarding women, especially rape victims. Unfortunately, our newspaper reports are heavily biased against women who have been raped and assaulted and reinforce the existing non-supportive attitude of society towards these women. As for television coverage of rape, it is noted with much resentment that many times these victims are put through more humiliation with extensive and unnecessary attention. 17-year-old Uzma Ayub was the rape victim in what was popularly known as the Karak rape case. After being abducted and ...

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Where criminals are secure, and innocents die

Once lucky, twice confident, thrice dead, goes the saying, and more often than not, it does play out that way. Unfortunately, as far as Rana Sarwat is concerned, somebody else did the dying. The convicted kidnapper and under-trial murder accused managed to evade death for the third time in the face of James Bond/Ethan Hunt-inspired assassins, only for two innocent women, the mother and sister of the cabinet secretary, to lose their lives in a hail of gunfire as a pair of gunmen entered the supposedly secure VIP ward of Pims and managed to leave after the incident without any ...

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How many bodies will I count this year?

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is whether we will see a resurgence of violence in 2012 like the one we saw in Karachi during 2011. This is because of the nature of my work, which is mostly about keeping count of the dead. Although it sounds morbid, it really is not as bad as what my other colleague does, an obituary writer who earns his living by going to graveyards almost every day. Cynical journalists among our group often joke that while “one kills, the other buries (aik marta hay, dosra dafnata hay).” I’m neither a clairvoyant nor a ...

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We are left to fend for ourselves

The killing of a doctor, as he drove on a busy Karachi road, last week, right before his wife, must have sent a shockwaves through many city residents. Dr Saleem Kharal, head of the microbiology department at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, had reportedly stopped his car at a traffic signal of a very busy road close to Karachi’s Clifton area. Most reports into this tragic incident say that two young men on a motorcycle came up to the doctor’s side of the car and took out pistols and wanted to steal his car. They also say that he offered ...

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Stop dissing Pakistan cricket

The Salman, Amir and Asif case is over now. The so-called ‘cricket experts’ should know that whatever the trio did was in their personal capacity and nothing was backed by the government or by the people of Pakistan. Hansie Cronje, Azharuddin, Ajay Sharma, Ajay Jadeja, Salim Malik, Ata ur Rehman, Maurice Odumbe, Marlon Samuels, Mark Waugh, Shane Warne, Brian Lara, Aravinda De Silva and Arjuna Ranatunga from different nationalities have also been in close contact with bookies. Few of them have also faced life bans and heavy fines as they were either involved in match/spot fixing or in giving ...

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Sialkot lynching: Hang ’em all

“An eye for an eye makes the world blind…but with so much injustice around us, perhaps blindness is preferable.” [J Haque] After a total of 401 days, the Sialkot lynching case has come to an end with an outcome that is perhaps as grisly as the event that took place – death sentences for seven of those involved, and I for one fully support the verdict. In fact, just to play judge, jury and executioner, (as is our classic Pakistan ka haal) I would also like to know why the other six involved, and particularly the policemen who stood by and ...

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In search of peace in Pakistan

I’m a fiercely patriotic individual generally. I’ve always been one, and primarily because this country has always given me a reason to. This summer, however, I have been an ashamed, embarrassed, and guilty Pakistani. Ashamed at the fact that today, more than ever before, Pakistani’s have been killing their fellow countrymen. Embarrassed at the fact that no major leader has stood up and asked for this madness, no matter in which part of the country, to come to a standstill. And guilty because I, myself, have not done whatever I could as a citizen of this country to stop this bloodshed and ...

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Making sense of the Sarfraz Shah verdict

On August 12, history was made. A paramilitary soldier, standing trial in a civilian court, was sentenced to death for extrajudicial murder in Karachi – the city that lives under the watchful eyes of over 10,000 Rangers. This verdict has not only criminalised an unlawful killing but has also declared that an act of terrorism is just that, even if the perpetrator is a security official. This anti-terrorism court has upheld “the rule of law”. However, the judgment – and the precedent that it has set – has, at best, received a mixed response. One section of the people, although without outrightly ...

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