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A Murder Most Foul

Mahboob Qadir


The writer is a retired Brigadier. He has extensive experience in dealing with UN matters related to strategic policy on countering violent extremism.

Islamabad was badly jolted on a day before Eid not by an earthquake but by the brutal murder of Noor Mukaddam, a winsome young girl by a typically bouncer-looking man. Details of murder which have emerged point to a premeditated act of commission and his method easily places him among the rogue’s gallery of butchers extraordinary savage par excellence. Its gruesomeness matched that of and reminded one of the ritual beheadings by Daesh throat slitters in Iraq. Most unbelievable is the fact that she probably had already died from stabs in the temple and body before he went on to behead her in cold blood; savagery knows no scruples nor compassion. It is a strange coincidence that the shocking crime took place in Islamabad at the same Parbat Road where once notorious Sadam-era Iraqi Embassy used to be, not that there is any connection between the two but just so. Some locales have an unholy brand stuck to them.

It was a murder by method therefore murder most foul altogether. Reportedly he beseeched her to see him for one last time to repair their strained relations; a relationship which is fast becoming known for being comprehensively lopsided and mismatched right from the beginning, yet dragged on to its inevitable tragic end. It appears Noor had genuinely fallen for this silk-wrapped beast head over heels and despite having eventually discovered the monster in him could not pull away. It looks like a typically eastern girl’s notion of attachment to her first paramour regardless of his infidelity moral and physical both. But one does not fault her entirely because right-minded girls are rarely known to walk out of the main gate in disgust or lure let alone jump fences as flirtatious men like Zahir Jaffer do. This man was reportedly booked for rape in the UK and by that token, there could be many more such criminal impingements and moral deficiencies he might have concealed behind a skillfully cultivated façade of wealth, vogue and influence; elements which normally cause most beholders to squint in their blinding glare. Noor was after all a female from an upwardly mobile background not as rich by tons of money. It has been learnt that days before the murder he had been consulting friends about the protection his US citizenship might provide from the law in Pakistan if he kills someone. That is a sure sign of an evil mind plotting a  premeditated murder.

Most strikingly investigators have found evidence of complicity in crime at various stages of its commission by Zahir’s parents, siblings, friends, guards and servants. They must have heard the girl’s screams and cries for help but shockingly none came forward to save her or even intervene. A recent CCTV clip made public shows Noor having jumped out of the window for dear life, prevented by the guard from escaping out of the main gate and hiding in the doorman’s hut. Wherefrom Zahir is seen dragging her out and into the main house, the murder took place thereafter. It appears for the guards and servants such a scene might have been a  routine, the lecherous Rasputin that Zahir Zakir was. One shudders at the thought of the last helpless flutter of the slain girl before the killer’s knife ended her life. It must have been a very painful death.

I find it hard to accept but it is widely believed that soon after Noor’s manslaughter, Zahir’s parents not only attempted to cover up the crime but also offered to pay blood money to her parents and are reportedly approaching their lawyer for arranging the same through both coercion and persuasion.

His psychotherapist made a startling disclosure on a TV channel about the terrible insensitivity of his parents. After reaching Zahir’s residence as asked by his parents, he found Noor murdered. He informed them of her murder to which they said ‘ Zahir must have been drunk’. However, the same therapist seems to have fallen for some undisclosed incentives and has been lately mixing manufacture with facts in order to provide some relief to the killer.

There is a lobby of barbarians who are trying to plead about unsoundness of Zahir’s mind in order not to let him eventually mount the gallows, who according to police was in his full senses when apprehended from the scene of the crime. Hubris of high entitlement shows in his ugly defiance during court hearings, polygraph tests and opportunity questions by the press reporters. There is a creepy child of a Federal Minister who reportedly goes around praising the murder as ‘hitting back’. Could there be anything viler than this sick bent of mind? What is alarming in this degenerate declaration is the fact that morals, ethics and humanity have been thrown out of the window and heartless cruelty has been adopted as a badge of class solidarity . This indicates our society is splintering from the top, the shatter blow could be unimaginably horrific and irreparable.

Belonging to an international family of vast means, deep connections and glittering glamor Zahir apparently attracted social approval, seeking pampered girls of the upper crust families in Islamabad. He was a kind of casanova who relished his status and charm openly and as a naturally deserved aristocratic entitlement. He is reported to have been holding binge parties routinely where a swarm of similar men and women would converge for good time. That also inevitably must have created frictions and possible heartburn. No wonder some of his friends did not respond to his calls after the murder and reportedly alerted the police.

The case is being tried and is currently under a sharp focus by the PM Secretariat but it seems to be taking rather long for a murder committed, as they say, in plain sight. That is creating doubts and restlessness in the major part of civil society which was shocked by the gory murder. An ever-expanding social media campaign is afoot to demand justice for late Noor Mukaddam which could mean this case is going to be quite unlike many before; incapable of erosion with the passage of time if somebody is hoping that way.  

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