Archive for June 10th, 2011

Pakistan Orders an Inquiry After Troops Kill a Teenager

By Salman Masood for The New York Times

President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan ordered an investigation on Thursday into the shooting death of an apparently unarmed teenager by paramilitary troops in the southern port city of Karachi. The shooting, which was captured on video and broadcast on national television, has led to protests and has been condemned by political parties and human rights groups.

It was the second time in recent weeks that a video has shown paramilitary troops using extreme force against civilians. Last month, five Chechens were gunned down in Quetta, Pakistan.

The shootings are sure to feed complaints that Pakistan’s security forces are too aggressive and sometimes bypass the sluggish and corrupt judicial system. Pakistan’s military leaders are also still embarrassed by the American raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, which the armed forces did not detect.

The victim of the Karachi shooting, Sarfraz Shah, whose age was given as 18 or 19, was stopped by paramilitary troops on Wednesday and accused of being involved in an attempted robbery in a nearby park.

A spokesman for the troops said a gun had been taken from him, but in the video, Mr. Shah does not appear to be armed when he is shot.

The recording shows the young man begging for mercy before being led toward a group of troops. One points his gun at Mr. Shah before firing several shots. Mr. Shah crouches, asking forgiveness while bleeding profusely.

“My hand is gone,” Mr. Shah shouts. “Take me to the hospital.” The troops step back, out of the video frame. A government official said five of the troops had been arrested.

Mr. Shah was buried on Thursday in Karachi, accompanied by protests from family members.

The shootings in Quetta last month were also recorded. The police and paramilitary troops initially reported that the victims, three women and two men, were suicide bombers. They were killed near a checkpoint on the outskirts of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan Province in southwestern Pakistan, in a volley of fire as police officers stood by.

Video from local television networks showed one young woman raising her arm, as if to try to stop the gunfire. No weapons were recovered on the victims. An investigation of that shooting is under way.

The Pakistani security forces have repeatedly been accused of misusing their power. The army was accused of extrajudicial killings during a military operation to drive out militants that began in the Swat Valley in 2009. The army denied the allegations.

The country’s powerful intelligence agencies have also been accused of illegally detaining hundreds of terrorism suspects. And military intelligence has been accused of gross human rights violations in Baluchistan, where a separatist insurgency by Baluch nationalists has long simmered.

Pakistani Rangers, the group involved in Mr. Shah’s death, are controlled by the Interior Ministry. Rehman Malik, the country’s interior minister, announced the arrests in the case on Thursday evening, but he also accused Mr. Shah of being part of a gang involved in robberies, according to the local news media.

Mr. Malik said Mr. Shah had tried to steal a woman’s purse and was caught by guards in the park before being handed over to the Rangers.

The Rangers have been deployed in Karachi for several years and help the local law enforcement authorities in maintaining peace in the city, which is riven by political, ethnic and sectarian tensions.

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