The carnage that wreaked havoc in Karachi and its aftermath seemingly overshadowed a very sinister killing that took place in Islamabad two days subsequently.
In the early hours of Monday 14 May Syed Hammad Amjad Raza, Additional Registrar of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, who had been described in the Press as “a prime defence witness in the presidential reference against Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry”, was mysteriously killed with a single gun shot to his head.
The UK Times reporting the incident said:
According to Hammad’s friends and colleagues in the Supreme Court, he had been under intense pressure from the government’s feared intelligence service to provide evidence against his boss.
… Shabana and her husband were getting ready for morning prayers last Monday when they heard a loud knock. It was 4.10am and Hammad hurried to the door to stop the noise waking his elderly father.
Four men were standing on the step. As Shabana watched, one of them simply shot her husband in the head. “It was the way he was shot. He didn’t resist. They didn’t ask for anything. It was a single shot in the head and only a professional person can do that, someone trained,” said Professor Syed Mohammad Hayat, Shabana’s father.
Aitzaz Ahsan, the chief justice’s lawyer, said Hammad was one of a number of Chaudhry’s staff who had been questioned by the intelligence services after their boss was suspended and accused of misconduct and misuse of power. He claimed Hammad had been pressured to give a statement implicating Chaudhry.
“Hammad was subjected to the third degree because he was a staff officer and any statement he might have made about corruption would have carried enormous weight – he was a highly respected, elite civil servant,” said Ahsan. He added that his evidence could have exposed the government’s brutality and damaged its case against the chief justice.
The fact that these armed men took nothing with them other than their dead victim’s cell phones makes it all extremely suspicious. It is no wonder that the dead man’s relatives appear convinced that Hammad had been targeted for murder by a secret official agency.
As Dawn reported:
[Hammad's] widow Shabana, a witness to the killing, said it was a target killing. She alleged that the government and agencies were involved in the murder.
She said that she saw several policemen lurking around in the lawn of her house when she ran out crying for help, but they did nothing to catch the culprits. She vowed to do everything possible to bring those responsible to justice.
Her brother, Abid Hussain Shah, also insisted that it was not a case of robbery, because nothing had been found missing from the house, except two cellphones. It’s a target killing and a message to judges, he said.
According to newspapers reports the Ministry of Interior rejected the idea that the murder could have been a target killing and instead contended that it had been an incidence of a robbery going wrong.
After reading the above press reports it would be difficult for any Pakistani to feel safe anymore.
With no exit plan in sight Musharraf seems determined to stay in power at all costs; perhaps the rest - to him - is just incidental collateral damage.