Pakistan’s Army chief General Raheel Sharif has suspended officials of the para-military Rangers force which is conducting a security operation in Karachi, following the death of a member of the Karachi-based Muttahida Qaumi Movement while in their custody.
Aftab Ahmed, a member of the party and an aide of former Karachi mayor Dr Farooq Sattar, died within two days of being taken into custody by the Rangers force for interogation.
After initially denying any wrongdoing, the head of the Rangers force said on Wednesday that Aftab Ahmad had been tortured, which lead to his death.
The army chief has now ordered an inquiry into the death and has said that justice must be done. “[The] COAS has directed to hold an inquiry to find out truth in the case of Aftab Ahmed, who died in Karachi yesterday,” said a statement from the military’s press relations wing. “He instructed to ensure that justice must be done.”
“A high-level committee has been set up to investigate the circumstances behind Aftab Ahmed’s death,” the statement said. “The officers allegedly involved have been suspended.”
The committee will be headed by a commander designate of Sindh Rangers, and will ensure that the truth about the incident is brought to light, the statement added.
The MQM said Aftab Ahmed was picked up from his residence on Sunday and presented in an anti-terrorism court a day later. The MQM activist, who had been working as coordinator for Karachi’s former mayor since 2002. He was detained by the Rangers in a raid And shifted to a Rangers sub-jail.
An anti-terrorism court allowed the Rangers to keep him in preventive custody for 90 days. At 8am on Tuesday, Aftab was brought to a local hospital and died shortly afterwards.
Doctors at the Emergency Ward said the man had no blood pressure or pulse on arrival. He was declared dead at 8:20am after cardiopulmonary resuscitation failed to revive him. A father of five, Ahmed joined the MQM in 1990.
The Rangers operation in Karachi, which targeted the MQM, has been questioned by human rights activists. This is not the first death in custody of the Rangers. It is believed that the paramilitary force has detained more than 1,000 MQM activists.