A death on screen

Bilal Baloch

On Wednesday, a young man was pitilessly killed in the heart of Karachi by state security forces. The repugnant moment was caught, in its entirety, on camera, and broadcast across the country and online.

In broad daylight, beside a park named after assassinated Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the youth is dragged by his hair and thrown to a gang of Rangers (paramilitary police forces). Tall, weeping, and clothed in jeans and a t-shirt, he wipes his brow in anguish. The Rangers surround him. "Who will do it?" they suggest with their eyes to one another. They tease and test the boy’s will by pointing their rifles at him. The youth pleads, bending down to touch their feet. He wants mercy, but clemency is out of stock here. One Ranger steps forward, menacingly, looking directly into the eyes of the youth, and presses his G3 rifle into his neck. But he withdraws, giving his target a moment more to cry, to beg, knowing, that these few seconds of life are a loan: "I am helpless… don’t kill me brother," he pleads. The pack encircles 18-year-old Sarfaraz Shah, and two Rangers, ostensibly protectors of civilians, shoot two bullets into the teenager’s shuddering legs and hands. He lay there, in a pool of claret-colored blood and dust, trembling, crying desperately for help. The Rangers leave him to die.

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