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October 21, 2015

Two prosecutors resign over safety concerns


October 21, 2015

The trial of suspects in one of the year’s most high-profile terror cases, the Safoora bus massacre, suffered a major setback on Tuesday as the two special public prosecutors recently appointed by the Sindh government tendered their resignations.
Advocates Muhammad Khan Buriro and Mubashir Hussain Mirza, who were assigned the case in August, were reported to have quit over the government’s failure to provide them security and financial compensation.
The lawyers were quoted in media reports as having said that they were not provided compensation, security or accommodation at a safe location, as promised by the provincial government at the time of their appointment.
Speaking to The News, one of the two SPPs, Muhammad Khan Buriro, was highly critical of the law department, stating that it had failed to honour the agreement reached between the then-department secretary, Mukhtiar Hussain Soomro.
Buriro asserted that Mirza and he never received the facilities they had been promised at the time of hiring. “We were assured of being provided foolproof security by the Sindh Rangers, including security details at our homes and with our children,” he said.
The professional fee agreed, as per Buriro, was Rs3 million for each, but they ended up being offered just Rs150,000.
Replying to a question, he said that it was the sitting secretary, Mir Muhammad Shaikh, who had rejected the verbally decided professional fee amount and agreement for other security facilities.
“Our lives were under great threat. We are the ones fighting for our country in our own way, but still we have deserted in our time of need. Now, we have been left with no other option but to quit.”
Buriro also spoke about a former special public prosecutor, Abdul Maroof, who had also left the country over the negative approach of the authorities concerned. Similarly, another prosecutor, Shazia Hanjra, having represented the state for some time, had

refused to contest the Baldia fire factory case on its behalf. It was said that Hanjra too was not provided due security and that had also been dissatisfied with the progress of the trial.
“It seems that only the armed forces are sincere in their efforts to eliminate terrorism from Pakistan. The bureaucrats, specifically some in the law department, appear to be least interested in assisting those who are willing to sacrifice whatever they must for their country,” said Buriro.
The Safoora investigation has garnered much attention given the harrowing nature of the May 13 attack that claimed the lives of at least 46 people, including men, women and children, from the Ismaili community.
However, since prosecution standards remain highly poor in the country, with Sindh being no exception, senior law enforcement officials reportedly saw the need for a change in the government’s legal team.
Thus, following a law and order meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on August 20, the Sindh government appointed Buriro and Mirza as SPPs for the case just a day later.
Though, the home department had issued a notification in this regard on the recommendation of the IGP, it was largely believed that the decision came about as a result of the concerns expressed by DG Rangers Bilal Akbar in the apex committee’s meeting.
The senior paramilitary officer had spoken critically of the weak prosecution system in Sindh and was said to have asked for competent officers to be appointed for high-profile cases.

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