Disappearance of Rao Anwar has highlighted the issue of custodial and target killings. The only deterrence to crime is punishment through effective prosecution and enactment of laws, which make forensic evidence such as DNA, CCTV etc acceptable as primary evidence, accompanied with witness protection and their identity secrecy. This cannot be achieved without trained and qualified police selected on merit, equipped with tools and independent of political intervention. Supremacy of constitution over all state institutions must be ensured if Rule of Law is to prevail and zero tolerance for extra-judicial killings. 

Unfortunate reality is that custodial killings is remnant of tyrannical Raj and practiced by all occupation forces, not just British but also in South Africa etc. The only difference is that it was done defiantly in Jallianwala Massacre and even today by Zionist regime in Gaza and Indian troops in Kashmir. 

After independence, this practice should have been discontinued and criminals punished by due process of law. After a brief pause custodial killings resumed under former Governor Nawab of Kalabagh in West Pakistan, because of loopholes in law of evidence. While Governor resorted to this practice discretely it became an instrument to weed out opponents by Zia. Our involvement in Afghan War resulted in this country becoming sanctuary for extremists and fundamentalists of all shades and emergence of private armed militias. Zia also created MQM, a fascist ethnic party which resorted to target killings, kidnapping for ransom, extortion etc spreading terror in urban Sind with no citizen daring to become witness, nor any judge willing to sit in judgment. Interior Minister Naseerullah Babar launched an operation against MQM in 1994-95 with help of summary courts. During Musharraf tenure this abuse became horrendous when he facilitated MQM target killers to kill over 190 police officers for participating in 93-96 state controlled operation. 

Laws must prevail over whims of individuals, elected and paid, civil or uniformed holding public office. 


Lahore, February 17.