The murder of FIA special prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali investigating Benazir’s assassination by gunmen on Friday reflects the hazards faced by the people involved in her murder trial. He was also serving as the prosecutor for the 2008 Mumbai attacks and was about to present evidence incriminating members of a banned outfit.

What it shows is how deeply terrorism has spread; virtually no individual – doesn’t matter whether you are an ordinary citizen, a polio activist, former prime minister or a sitting one -- anyone for that matter appears to be within the reach of an assassin’s bullet. How that gory ambush was executed in the blink of an eye could have been done by professionals; in just seconds the killers descended from nowhere and disappeared into thin air. That’s how easily a life is slaughtered; all it takes is a gun and a hired killer to get the job done.

Violence remains the best means available to silence dissent in all its forms and manifestations. The solution does not lie in the government functionaries, collectively the mandarins and the legislators moving about heavily guarded, blocking off the roads, measures which apparently seem a necessity. Chaudhry Zulfiqar must have known what the tremendous costs to his person could be, as he drove to the anti-terrorism court. This is the latest killing in a string of assassinations that is also targeting witnesses and key individuals involved in the murder trial. For one thing, the kind of outfits that were behind Benazir’s killing or for that matter the Mumbai attacks are so vicious that they are bent on silencing every individual they think could have a bearing on the future course of the mystery in one way or the other. The state prosecutor was a key figure; he was pursuing both the cases quite courageously; in fact reportedly in a manner that had earned him many enemies. He was, for instance against the grant of a bail to Musharraf over Benazir’s murder. Musharraf's legal aids however, have claimed that they are hurt worst of all, as Choudhry Zulfiqar's evidence was not against their client, but against powerful elements who stood to be embarrassed as a result. Against the backdrop of the witnesses swiftly slain so far, and conveniently forgotten by the police, their deaths have helped the trial take the trajectory that these killers want.

It would not be enough to just speculate who are the forces doing this. Procrastination where action is needed becomes a crime and costs precious lives as is happening at the moment. It is high time, that the Al Capone style of executing witnesses and investigators was brought to an end.