City Notes

It was not enough that there were so many questions arising out of the arrest of the rapist-cum-murderer of Zainab, that we were faced with the story of his many bank accounts. Before the State Bank said he had no accounts, these were supposed to be the ‘smoking gun’ linking him to the earlier kiddie porn scandal.

The bank accounts would have shown that the accused Imran was an aboveboard businessman, who performed a patriotic duty by earning foreign exchange for the country. Imran’s confession was unsatisfactory to old cops. There was no lalkara, in which an eyewitness tells how the accused, before the murder, shouts at the victim, and explains in some detail why he is slaying him. The lalkara would contain details of the old enmity which was its reason, usually the theft of a buffalo of the accused’s ancestor by the victim’s. The idea of a quick, quiet killing does not seem to have crossed any murderer’s mind, nor the concept of privacy– murders are committed before eyewitnesses.

Instead, the culprit was caught by a process of DNA profiling. Then the confession was confirmed by a polygraph test. That must have caused considerable disquiet among the police. Good police work seems precluded. That involves beating suspects to within an inch of their lives, until one confesses (and if more than one does, the first). Here no one seems to have been beaten. And a polygraph? Why not a magistrate to record a confession under Section 164 of the CrPC, y’know, the one in which the person making the confession says he is under no pressure to do so, all the while shooting frightened glances at the police officer who has brought him in? Polygraph machines are unreliable, and useless when the power has gone, which is for 18 hours a day now in rural police stations, when there is no loadshedding.

The accounts failed to take attention away from Rao Anwar, who has disappeared, apparently off the face of the earth. His attempt to get on a flight to Dubai, wrapped in a muffler and wearing a snappy hat, was foiled. He has over 400 encounters to his credit, and it seems he killed Naqeebullah Mehsud the other day, according to the investigation tribunal charged with the case. His only recourse seems to be joining the PTI. Has anyone noticed that both Khurshid Kasuri and Sardar Aseff Ahmad Ali are not just former Foreign Ministers but also are from Kasur. However, they have not even been mentioned in the Zainab case. Nor has their leader, Imran Khan, for that matter, even though the self-confessed killer is his namesake.

The Imran from Kasur must be happy that he is not in Rao Anwar’s custody. He probably does not approve of Rehman Malik’s bill, which provides for the public hanging of child molesters and abductors. Malik still has difficulty reciting Surah Ikhlas, while Imran is an accomplished naat khwan. That might explain why he was at his victim’s funeral prayer, which were led by Allama Tahirul Qadri. It won’t surprise me if he is shown to have been at the Faizabad sit-in.

Being there is not to be questioned, for the Principal of a college in Charsadda was killed by a student he asked about his absence to go there. The whole teaching profession has learnt a lesson: let students stay away as much as they want to. Sounds a little like the trouble they’re having at the Punjab University, where two students’ organisations, one religious, one ethnic, were duking it out. I don’t think offing teachers is part of any academic tradition or many teachers recommending it, not even those who implemented it, and somehow not just got off the murder charge, but landed a college teaching job.

Well, not just college teachers are in trouble. The Chief Justice himself had to retract his remark about speeches, when he quoted Winston Churchill to say they should be long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to keep it interesting. As a friend remarked on Facebook, that was a definition given for a good intro, or introductory sentence of a news item. Journalism is not just about confirming stories (Dr Shahid, please note!), but about writing good intros. And Churchill didn’t just make speeches, but also wrote. When he was given the Nobel Prize for Literature, it created almost as much fuss as the one given to Bob Dylan. Still, the Chief Justice should stick to Mario Puzo, no matter how much Mian Nawaz Sharif might object. If Mian Nawaz doesn’t read Churchill, he doesn’t read Puzo either. (He might watch him: Puzo did the screenplays for all three Godfather movies, apart from writing the book.)

But before we go around hanging Zainab’s killer in public, we should keep in mind that his hearing of jinns might be a preparation for an insanity defence, but in the USA, they just sentence to jail. In a recent US case, the team doctor of the US gymnastics team, Larry Nassar, got 40 to 175 years in jail for abusing 150 girls under the guise of medical treatment.

He’d already got 60 years for possessing kiddie porn. The wheel comes full circle, for he’s the kind of customer Shahid Masood thinks Imran was catering to. Is it a coincidence that Shahid Masood and Nassar are both doctors? True, Shahid Masood doesn’t look as if he’s ever been anywhere near any sports team.