KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Thursday exonerated the Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi chairman Afaq Ahmed and Amir Khan (now senior leader of Muttahida Quami Movement-Pakistan) in a 1992 murder case.

A single-judge bench headed by Justice Irshad Ali Shah allowed the 11-year-old appeals of both leaders through a short order and set aside the conviction by trial court after hearing both sides and examining the record and proceedings of the case.

A sessions court had sentenced both leaders to life in prison in April 2010 for the murder of Mohammad Farooq, an activist of the rival Muttahida Quami Movement, in June 1992 in a Landhi area.

They had approached the SHC shortly after the conviction order of trial court and impugned the judgement, and in May, 2011, the SHC had suspended the conviction and granted bail to both appellants.

When the bench took up the appeals for hearing on Thursday, senior counsel Mehmood Alam Rizvi, representing Amir Khan, and Mohammad Farooq advocate, defending Afaq Ahmed, advanced their arguments.

The lawyers for appellants argued that a set of accused persons had already been acquitted by trial courts in two separate trials of the present case and, therefore, the appellants were named in the reinvestigation of case in 2004 without the approval of the court.

They further contended that there were glaring contradictions in the evidence of prosecution witnesses and the postmortem of the body had not been carried out while the place of offence was also disputed since there was no memo of the place of incident.

They asserted that it was a politically-motivated case as both the appellants then belonged to the rival political party. Mr Rizvi further submitted that Amir Khan was not present at crime scene as the police had booked him in an illicit weapon case in Liaquatabad area, in which he was acquitted later, at the same day and time when the incident of present case took place.

Senior lawyer Mohammad Ashraf Qazi, who was appointed as special public prosecutor in these appeals, did not support the conviction order of trial court.

According to the prosecution, Afaq Ahmed and Amir Khan along with their associates had allegedly kidnapped four workers of the rival Muttahida Qaumi Movement — Mohammed Farooq, Mohammad Tahir, Salman and M. Anwar — and killed Mohammed Farooq on June 19, 1992 in a Landhi locality.

A case (FIR 102/1992) was registered under Sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon), 149 (common object), 324 (attempt to commit qatl-i-amad), 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder), 302 (punishment of qatl-i-amad) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code on the complaint of Ismail Qureshi at the Landhi police station.

The appellants had founded the MQM-H in 1992 after parting ways with MQM founder Altaf Hussain and they spent years in jail after being arrested in 2004 while Amir Khan ultimately came back into Altaf-led MQM fold to eventually become one of the most important persons in the post-Altaf MQM-Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2022

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