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Awaiting justice for Naqeeb

The father of Naqeebullah Mehsud, a young man who was killed in staged encounter in Karachi, has passed away after battling cancer. The elderly man from South Waziristan failed to receive justice for his son. The alleged perpetrators continue to roam free with complete impunity.

In January last year, Naqeeb was killed in a fake encounter along with four others carried out by the notorious encounter specialist Rao Anwar and his team. He was initially branded as a terrorist with links to the Taliban, but pictures on social media showed his aspirations to be a model. The encounter sparked protests and reignited debate about extrajudicial killings in the country.

Naqeeb’s courageous father, Mohammad Khan, knocked on every door to get justice for his son. The protests over the killing eventually turned into a movement. It started from the Pakhtun-dominated Sohrab Goth area of Karachi, where Naqeeb lived and owned a shop, to a nine-day ‘Pakhtun long march’ ending in Islamabad.

Naqeeb was eventually declared innocent with no links to any militant outfit. Rao Anwar and seventeen others were indicted in March. He is now out on bail but has been relieved from the police department. An inquiry found out that Rao Anwar carried out a staggering 444 encounters and was never charged. He still seems to enjoy support of several vested interests.

Earlier this year, Naqeeb’s father had said that those responsible for his son’s murder were in uniform, and justice will also be ensured by those who are in uniform. He mentioned that he has no doubt over the intentions of state institutions. He also expressed faith that the prime minister, army chief, and chief justice would honour their promises and bring the culprits to the book.

Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa even met Naqeeb’s father during a visit to their native area in April 2018. The army chief offered his condolences and promised that the army shall support him in efforts to obtain justice. Alas, Naqeeb’s father never lived to see the justice but his steadfastness and dedication will be remembered.

As the case seems to be placed on the backburner, the death of Naqeeb’s father is a reminder to state institutions and as well as to those who promised to bring justice. This is an opportunity for the government to set an example that even the influential can be held accountable. After all, there may be still solace for the departed souls.

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