I was not surprised at all to read Babar Sattar`s (well-known lawyer) column in the Dawn News criticizing MQM, as I had already listened to his similar views in TV talk shows. But, it is necessary to respond to his accusation on MQM. (http://www.dawn.com/news/1160870/legal-and-moral-abyss)
Yes, it is true that Saulat Mirza, former MQM worker, got convicted by an anti-terror court and was handed the death sentence in 1999 for the murder of MD KESC, Shahid Hamid who was murdered in 1997. But, Baber Sattar has either deliberately skipped or perhaps is not aware of the fact that Saulat Mirza was portrayed as a high profile murderer by the Pakistani LEA`s (Law-Enforcement Agencies) and media, not because of the assassination of MD KESC, but due to the confession of the murder of then MQM`s Secretary General Dr. Imran Farooq.
In 1997, the law-enforcement agencies which were conducting a so-called “indiscriminate” operation in Karachi against criminals claimed that they had arrested one MQM worker (Saulat Mirza) who confessed that he, along with his other group members, had killed Dr. Imran Farooq and buried him in the hills of Balochistan. As per the “volunteer” confession in the police custody, Saulat Mirza was further mad to claim that MQM`s chief Altaf Hussain had ordered him to do all that as a result of his serious conflicts with the deceased. The state-run television (PTV) also aired the footage of the place in Balochistan where Dr. Imran Farooq was buried.
It should be kept in mind that MQM`s founding member Dr. Imran Farooq had remained in hiding ever since the militants of Haqiqi group were deployed in Karachi under the military cover in June 1992. Saulat Mirza`s press conference organized in the custody of law-enforcement agencies, created serious concerns about the life of Dr. Farooq. Although, MQM`s chief Altaf Hussain altogether denied that allegation and claimed that he was not only alive, but also in contact with him. As usual, none of his rivals believed him. Soon, all the prevailing doubts automatically evaporated in late 1999 when Dr. Imran Farooq safely reached to London and joined hands with Altaf Hussain. The joint press conferees of Dr. Imran Farooq and Altaf Hussain brought to light several facts about the “confession-cum-allegation” (which I personally consider as a rehearsal of Dr. Imran Farooq`s actual murder in 2011), such as:
1-Dr. Imran Farooq was alive in contrast to the Police claim and the confession of Saulat Mirza;
2-There were no “serious conflicts” between his leader Altaf Hussain and him as was propagated;
3-Saulat Mirza`s “volunteer” confession of killing Dr. Farooq on Altaf Hussain`s order was a blatant lie, and
4-The investigation-based claims from Pakistani LEA`s proved to be totally baseless and politically motivated.
Taking into account these undeniable facts, was there any credibility left about the investigations of the LEA`s and the accused`s confessions made after their arrests anymore? Let me thank God that Dr. Imran Farooq safely managed to go out of Pakistan that time to join his leader Altaf Hussain, otherwise, instead of MD KESC, Saulat Mirza could have been sentenced to death over his murder. In fact, had such a blatant lie got exposed in any civilized country of the world, not speaking of the responsible officers, even the heads could have been sent to jail.
Haider Abbas Rizvi of MQM seems to be well-justified when he says, “Regarding Saulat Mirza`s case, we want to ensure that he cannot be punished for an act that he did not commit or just because of the reason that he used to work for MQM”. So, does anyone, including Baber Sattar, deserve to object to MQM`s concerns about Saulat Mirza`s execution who got accused and convicted in a controversial scenario?
Unlike the impression that Babar Sattar gave in his column, MQM always extended its support to the operations launched in Karachi in the name of restoring peace saying,“Bring the culprits to justice no matter even if he somehow belongs to MQM”. MQM leadership always stuck to its very loud and clear stand despite the fact that all its political and principally backed operations hit it below the belt as a result of which, thousands of its voters and workers got extra-judicially killed. In addition, even the presently on-going operation in Karachi was also launched on its demand, but like in the past, MQM has turned out to be the biggest target of the LEA`s. Considering these bitter facts, can MQM be blamed of defending criminals anyway?
It is MQM which has already lost about 20,000 supporters in the name of maintaining law & order of the city of which hundreds of them were brutally killed in the LEA`s custody. According to the deceased`s families, many of the dead bodies had been badly mutilated. The question is does the Constitution of Pakistan or the prevailing laws in the country permit the state and its under-controlled agencies to torture any accused to death without taking him to the courts? Did Babar Sattar ever express his “unbiased” and “fair” legal opinion over this issue too? Question is what motivated the law-enforcement agencies to extra-judicially kill and even disfigure the accused`s dead bodies? Was such brutality against Urdu speaking community the result of LEA`s political rivalry, ethnic hatred or perhaps a mixture of both, would Mr. Sattar like to answer?
It is on record that MQM kept on calling attention of all the people concerned including heads of state, lawyers` associations, High and Supreme Courts, political and religious parties as well as the civil society towards the politically and ethnically-based victimization of the Karachi-ites. But, nobody came forward to even condemn it. Rather, they advised MQM to go to the courts to get its issues resolved saying,”Judiciary is independent and it is the right forum to seek justice from”. However, very interestingly, in 2007 all these people came out on roads with the slogan of “independence of judiciary”. Leaders of the movement explained the motive of their movement saying, “The judiciary in Pakistan has been enslaved for last sixty years and we want to free it.”
Logically, if the Pakistani judiciary had really been enslaved or used as a rubber stamp during the last 60 years by the rulers of the time as claimed by the lawyers and judges, then do the judgments given during the period of judiciary`s slavery, including the one in Saulat Mirza`s case, not morally and legally lose their grounds? Did, at least, controversial judgments not need to be reviewed?
Shamelessly, there has been a complete silence over this very important matter! Truly speaking, had any movement, like the lawyers` movement in Pakistan, been staged and become so popular anywhere in the world in the name of independence of judiciary, all the previous judgments would have been declared null and void immediately after the success of the movement. But, in Pakistan, instead of demanding to reopen the cases, flag bearers of independence of judiciary, like Babar Sattar, are demanding to implement the judgments given in the darkest period of judiciary?
How strange is that a well-reputed lawyer, Babar Sattar, is criticizing the 21st Amendment (which was passed by the Pakistani parliament in order to deal with the Taliban terrorists), but he has no words against the on-going ethnically-motivated victimization against MQM?? Is his silence not an act of defending what is going on in Karachi? Truly speaking, when it comes to MQM and Karachi-ites, Babar Stattar`s own words seem to be coming true that “these divergent facts and details portray the picture of a state and society that has fallen into a legal and moral abyss”