Civilian court takes uniformed killers to task for the first time


The Sarfraz Shah murder case was not the first incident in which armed forces officials were found involved in extra-judicial killings, but it is the first time in the history of Pakistan that a civilian court handed out major sentences the officials of the armed forces. The Anti-Terrorism Court on Friday gave the death sentence to the main accused, Ranger Shahid Zafar, and life imprisonment to the other five Rangers and one civilian. The case was registered against the accused by Boat Basin Police under Sections 302, 34 and 36 of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
On June 5, 1992 nine villagers in Tando Bahawal, outskirts of Hyderabad, Sindh were killed in a fake encounter staged by Pakistan Army Major Arshad Jameel with the collaboration of other army officials, who alleged that the villagers were terrorists and were the agents of Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). The media, however, exposed the claims as phony and produced evidence that the victims were farmers involved in a land dispute. There are many similarities in both cases. The media in both cases exposed the facts, and in both incidents personnel of law enforcement agencies were involved. Innocent people were killed by official rifles and bullets in both cases. Again in both incidents the top brass of the law enforcement agencies tried to hush up the matter, calling those killed terrorists and bandits.
Major Jameel, who stage-managed the killing in 1992, was sentenced to death by the military court and other soldiers were given life sentences. After the conviction of the army officer and officials, many efforts were made for reconciliation with the families of the victims but they refused any settlement. Many a delay tactic was used by the army to save the major despite protests from the victims’ families, and finally the wife of one of the victims and the sister of another, named Hakimzadi and Zaibun Nisa, committed suicide outside the Anti-Terrorism Court in Hyderabad on September 11, 1996 – a public holiday. Major Jameel was then finally hanged on October 28, 1996, and the personnel involved in the incident were sentenced to life imprisonment. However, neither of the civilian accused involved in the same case, named Ghulam Nabi Pathan and Ghulam Muhiuddin, could be hanged as they died in custody under mysterious circumstances. Justice (r) Rasheed Rizvi, renowned lawyer, leader and former president of the Sindh High court Bar Association, told Pakistan Today that the decision against the Rangers officials involved in the murder of the unarmed youth was an historic victory in for the judiciary of Pakistan. By this judgement, the judiciary had proved its independence and saved many lives of innocent citizens, who could have been killed by rogue elements of law enforcement agencies, both civilian and of the armed force, he added.


  1. Quote from New York Times:

    “The verdict should go some way in arresting the impunity for abuses by Pakistan’s trigger-happy security and paramilitary agencies,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch.

  2. A shamefull news title by this reporter and PakistanToday.Nothing could be more repulsive then when you bellittle yourself and many Pakistanis by qouting NewYork Times and some idiot named Dayan.

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