Stories about rangers

Taxi driver shot dead: The Rangers are not to blame

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 ...

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

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 ...

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Citizens of Lyari: Bloodied, miserable and begging for mercy

Ordinarily, Pakistan does not surprise me with the injustice that goes on in the country. I live in Karachi and am frighteningly used to instances of violence and bloodshed that the city is reputed for. The news, more or less every day, leaves me depressed, but for the past few days, my heart has been aching for what is going on in Karachi — especially Lyari. In four days, Lyari has seen the concentrated essence of what we call ‘Karachi violence’. Four were dead as of June 10 and 18 had been injured even before the sun set. With a ...

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The point of snap checking

On the eve of Muharram, a colleague and I were on our way home in a company car. We had just passed a bakery in Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Karachi when we noticed multiple security vehicles parked along the side of the road. About 10 officers were randomly motioning vehicles to pull over. It never crossed my mind that they would stop our vehicle as we were not speeding or breaking any other law that I was aware of. Our vehicle also bore, quite distinctly, the name of our media organisation. But then one policeman directed us to pull over and exit the ...

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Should I light a candle or curse the darkness?

This weekend had me pondering over the mugging I faced recently while returning from office in one of Karachi’s most secure areas. It was truly an unnerving experience. It is not an uncommon occurrence to be mugged just opposite two well-guarded hotels of Karachi, in the presence of a couple of Rangers mobiles just a stone’s throw away, and the police too standing nearby –  after all it is Karachi meri jaan. However, I was bewildered by the shocking response I got from the security personnel around me just seconds after the incident. A Rangers officer said: “I’m on official duty and can’t ...

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Army man: Move away, please

The common phrase which describes freedom of expression goes something like this:  “Your freedom ends where my nose begins”. Personal space must be respected, but man does not often care for such trivialities. Fortunately, living in a civil land, rules and laws dictate what yours, mine, or anyone else’s freedom is. A few days ago, as I was heading to work, I saw the heavens part and the sun shone down in quite a magical manner. Being in relative proximity to my apartment, I retraced my steps, got my camera and attempted to preserve what I had seen. Parking my car by the ...

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Death sentence for Rangers, freedom for terrorists?

Rejoice all ye faithful, for justice has been served. Seven terrorists who spread fear among the good people of Pakistan have been tried and sentenced. These weren’t any slap-on-the-wrist sentences either: one got a death sentence and the others got life. This was justice on steroids, with the ATC disposing of the case in a record two months. They were terrorists after all, and got what they deserved. So pardon me for asking why Malik Ishaq could not be faced with the same kind of justice, or why Ajmal Pahari – accused of dozens if not hundreds of murders  – ...

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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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Karachi’s apolitical police force

The decision to  renew special policing powers given to Rangers is a step in the wrong direction. These powers should only be granted for short periods to aid civil power, when required, rather than for long stretches.    Two weeks ago, after 100 people were killed in a period of five days, law enforcement agencies “marched into” the troubled areas of Karachi and miraculously faced “no resistance” – all guns went silent, according to news reports, that was the end the operation. Fantastic! One does wonder though: how many lives could have been saved had our protectors stepped up when the violence first erupted? How many billions ...

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All that’s wrong

What do you do when the very people who vow to guard your life end up being the ones taking it? On Wednesday, a horrific incident unfolded when some Rangers personnel shot dead a young man at Benazir Bhutto Park in Karachi. Initially, the police and Rangers claimed they were informed that a dacoit had held a family hostage in the park. According to the security personnel, they went inside the park and asked the man to surrender, and when he refused, he was shot “in retaliation”. However, video footage of the incident shot by a cameraman shed new light on the ...

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