unfortunately the writer is too afraid to name MQM
Despite a lapse of five years, none of the culprits involved in the May 12, 2007 violence that left around 50 dead has been arrested or convicted, with the families of the victims still awaiting justice.
The Sindh Bar Council (SBC) and other lawyers’ associations will observe a black day today in protest against the killing of lawyers and political activists who wanted to welcome the then deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry upon his arrival at the Karachi airport on May 12, 2007.
Lawyers will hoist black flags at the premises of the high court, district courts and bar association offices, as well as hold meetings to pay tribute to the victims of the May 12 mayhem and express solidarity with their families.
The SBC and other bar associations have appealed to lawyers to abstain from appearing before the courts today and observe a black day against the failure of the government to arrest the culprits involved in the killing of innocent people on that fateful day.
On that fateful morning, groups of joyous supporters of the deposed chief justice, including PPP and ANP activists, were heading towards the airport to welcome him when calamity struck. A large number of armed gunmen had been strategically placed on the bridges and flyovers on Sharea Faisal determined to stop the welcome processions.
A number of obstacles had also been placed overnight on the city’s main thoroughfare to halt their progress. Soon firing broke out between the gunmen and supporters of the deposed chief justice, and by the end of a bloody day almost 50 people were dead as the violence spread to other parts of the city. Meanwhile, the chief justice was unable to step out of the airport lounge because of the violence and was forced to return to Islamabad.
As Karachi bled, and scenes of the mayhem dominated the TV headlines, then president Musharraf, who had organised a rally of his supporters in the capital on the day, clenched his fists and pointed to his strength and ‘people’s power’ being demonstrated in the metropolis, casting ironic, some would say sinister, light on the mayhem.
May 12 case
Five years on, no culprit involved in the May 12 killings has so far been arrested. Some suspects had been detained but soon released after questioning.
The Sindh High Court had taken suo moto notice of the siege of the SHC and City Courts buildings by mobs after the event, and also heard identical petitions seeking a probe into the mayhem. These cases were first heard by a seven-member bench of the SHC, but due to the imposition of emergency and the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) by then president Pervez Musharraf such a bench could not conclude the suo moto proceedings.
Later, while the PCO was in force, the SHC constituted a five-member bench that dismissed the proceedings and declined to interfere in the matter, observing that the petition seeking to launch an open-ended inquiry would not be permissible under the law and the Constitution.
The SHC’s five-member bench had observed in its order that it was not a fit case where the court should extend interference, except expressing the hope that in future all the stakeholders would discharge their respective functions with due care and responsibility, keeping the interest of the country above everything else.
However, the court observed that while a set of individuals may feel aggrieved, they have every right to vent their grievance but the interest of the country must be kept paramount.
Regarding the May 12 incidents, the court noted that the atmosphere was “highly charged” on May 12, 2007 and despite the placement of barriers some unruly mobs were caught in the crossfire, resulting in causalities.
“The court under Article 199 cannot assume the role of an investigator except issuing directions to expedite investigations and proceed in accordance with the law,” the five-member bench had observed while pointing out that about 80 FIRs were registered in respect of events that had transpired on May 12 and some of these FIRs were lodged at the behest of office-bearers and members of the legal fraternity.
The court also observed that all stakeholders, whether members or office-bearers of the bar associations, members of the judiciary, executive or political parties had to discharge their functions “within their respective spheres” with responsibility and care.
The court also rejected objections raised by the Sindh High Court Bar Association as incorrect in which the bar submitted that the earlier constituted seven-member full bench was the only competent court to hear and adjudicate on suo moto proceedings initiated earlier and the contempt proceedings pending against a former chief minister and other government functionaries.
The court also expected that the government would expeditiously grant compensation to the relatives of the people who lost their lives in the May 12 violence.
The five-member SHC bench consisted of then Chief Justice Mohammad Afzal Soomro, Justice Munib Ahmed Khan, Justice Nadeem Azhar Siddiqui, Justice Abdur Rehman Farooq Pirzada and Justice Dr Rana Mohammad Shamim.
The suo motu notice was taken on the report of the in-charge registrar of the high court submitted before the then chief justice Sabihuddin Ahmed regarding the May 12 incidents.
The registrar submitted that the high court and the City Courts buildings were surrounded by a mob, and they were stopping everybody from entering the court premises, including SHC judges, lawyers and litigants. The report mentioned that because of the blockade of roads and the siege of the high court premises, a number of judges also faced hardships, which was evident from the letters of protocol officers of judges, including Justice Azizullah M Memon, Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Mohammad Athar Saeed, Justice Mrs. Yasmeen Abbasey, and the information communicated by the driver of Justice (retd) Sajjad Ali Shah.
The petition seeking a judicial inquiry with regard to the May 12 violence was pending in the SHC and it was restored on October 18, 2011 when the petitioner, Iqbal Kazmi, who had earlier withdrawn his petition on November 19, 2007, approached the court again after the restoration of the pre-November 3, 2007, judiciary