QUETTA: Convicted murderer Saulat Mirza was hanged to death in the early hours of Tuesday at Balochistan’s Machh Jail.
His body was flown to Karachi, where it will be buried later today in the Gulshan -e- Maymar neighbourhood.
Mirza had been on death row for nearly 17 years. Sentenced to death in 1999, Mirza was initially scheduled to be executed on March 19 this year after Pakistan lifted its moratorium on capital punishment in the wake of the Peshawar school massacre.
But in a dramatic turn of events, video footage of Mirza hurling grave allegations at Altaf Hussain and other MQM leaders of complicity in crime was aired on television channels just few hours before his execution on March 19. The president immediately stayed his hanging for three days after the convict sought more time to give information regarding target killers and their alleged patrons.
A few days later, Mirza’s hanging was put off again as authorities wished to interrogate him for crucial details in relation to his confession.
A 10-member joint-investigation team later questioned Mirza over his confession and eventually concluded that his disclosures did not constitute any ‘actionable intelligence or cogent evidence’ that could help the judicial process.
On May 2, the trial court issued Mirza’s black warrant for a third time, scheduling his hanging for May 12.
Profile: Saulat Mirza
“It is just a formality”, the convict in a triple-murder case reacted as a judge of a Karachi anti-terrorism court read out his death sentence on May 24, 1999.
Reporters present in the courtroom of retired judge Fakhruddin H. Sheikh were unable to ascertain whether the convict, Saulat Ali Khan – better known as Saulat Mirza – was certain about the outcome of his trial, or whether he had been given assurances of safety from certain quarters, irrespective of the trial’s outcome.
Before the media could seek an explanation, Saulat Mirza was rushed off by security officials, out of the courtroom and into a police van.
Almost 17 years later, the same court- ATC-5 – now presided over by Judge Mohammad Javed Alam – ordered on March 11, 2015 the manifestation of its 1997 order, issuing Mirza’s death warrant, scheduling his execution by hanging in Balochistan’s Machh Jail on March 19, 2015.
ATC-5 had awarded Saulat Mirza the capital punishment after finding him guilty of murdering then managing director (MD) of Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (now K-Electric) Malik Shahid Hamid, his driver Ashraf Brohi, and guard Khan Akbar just outside Hamid’s residence in Karachi’s Defence Housing Authority (DHA) on July 5, 1997.
Then a resident of Block-J, North Nazimabad, Karachi, Saulat was his parents’ fourth child.
While reading for his Intermediate examinations at Shipowner’s College, he became active in student politics and joined the All-Pakistan Mohajir Students Organisation – the students’ wing of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) – then known as the Mohajir Qaumi Movement.
Mirza’s name first blipped on intelligence and security agencies’ radars in 1994 after the killing of two United States diplomats at a traffic signal on Karachi’s Shahrah-e-Faisal, and in the murder of four Union Texas (an American oil company) workers near the PIDC bridge.
Read more: Saulat Mirza was in touch with MQM chief before arrest, claims wife.
The police revealed his arrest during a press conference on December 11, 1998, although he was believed to have been arrested a couple of days earlier at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport upon his arrival from Bangkok.
During the press conference, in the presence of the former deputy inspector general of Karachi, Ameen Qureshi, Mirza made startling revelations about his involvement in the murders of scores of innocent people, including several high-profile personalities.
Saulat Mirza was initially detained by Federal Investigation Agency immigration officials for travelling under the false identity of Farhan Ameen, but was then handed over to the Gulbahar Station House Officer (SHO) Mohammad Aslam Khan (Choudhry Aslam).
SHO Aslam was also present at the airport at the time of Mirza’s arrest, acting on intelligence that claimed several criminals belonging to the MQM were returning home.
Civil and military intelligence agencies in several reports during the mid and late 1990s described Saulat as a man who had been operating from South Africa, organising subversive activities in Karachi – from where he fled following army’s operations in 1992.
According to the then-DIG Karachi, Saulat had confessed to the murders of Major (retired) Shahnawaz Toor, who was in charge of the American Drug Enforcement Agency in Pakistan; two US diplomats; four Union Texas workers; KESC MD Shahid Hamid, his guard and driver; sub-divisional magistrate Nawaz Khushk, a Rangers personnel, a Lance Naik of the Pakistan Army, and five relatives of Superintendent of Police Khawan Nisar.
Although the First Information Report (FIR) of Shahid Hamid’s murder was initially registered by DHA SHO Farhan Zaman against unknown assailants, following Saulat’s arrest the investigation of the case was assigned to Choudhry Aslam— who had been tasked by former Sindh IG Rana Maqbool to investigate all cases against Saulat Mirza.
Saulat Mirza was identified as Shahid Hamid’s murderer – 582 days after the fact – by the wife of the deceased, Shahnaz.
The motive behind the murder, cited by police, was a departmental inquiry into some officers of the KESC – then a public-sector organisation.
The officers had been under the protection of the MQM, and the party wanted the KESC MD to halt the inquiry and prevent the forwarding of the cases to the National Accountability Bureau – then called the Ehtesab Bureau.
The Sindh High Court rejected Saulat’s appeal against his conviction on January 21, 2000, while the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed his appeal on September 16, 2001, upholding his sentence. His review petition was also dismissed by the SC on March 9, 2004.
As a last-ditch effort, after the rejection of his mercy petition by the presidency, Mirza filed a second review through Advocate Sardar Latif Khosa, pinpointing a contradiction in Shahnaz’s statement.
But on January 6, 2015, the SC registrar’s office returned the second review petition, saying that another review petition could not be filed under the law.
Latif Khosa then filed an application against the return of the second review petition, which was also dismissed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk after a hearing in his chamber on March 17, leaving no remedy for Mirza.
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