End of Jalib Murder Investigation?

Habib Jalib Baloch

By Malik Siraj Akbar

Former BNP secretary General Habib Jalib, who was shot dead in Quetta on July 14th by unidentified persons, is perhaps the only “lucky” political figure in this country to get his murderers identified within a “very short” period of one month. Pakistan has had a history of several high-profile murders, including that of two former prime ministers i.e. Liaquat Ali Khan and Benazir Bhutto and former Balochistan governor Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti.

The real culprits responsible for these murders in 1951, 2007 and 2006 respectively could never be traced by the law enforcement agencies. Jalib’s case is strikingly different: Balochistan police claim to have rounded up the actual murders and ascertained confession — of killing Jalib — as well.

Balochistan’ police chief Malik Iqbal, while addressing a press conference in Quetta, ruled out a political assassination of Habib Jalib. The police investigations, he said, had revealed that Jalib was murdered by some of his own irked relatives to settle personal scores. Ironically, the police account of the murder suggests that the killers took Jalib to the hospital, attended his funeral and participated in the ensuing protest rallies.

This police version seems too hasty and simplistic. An established underground anti-nationalist group, which had previously attacked Baloch leaders and student activists as well, had taken responsibility for the murder of the BNP leader. Even the Balochistan National Party has officially spurned the police statement saying that it was an attempt to provide protection to those actually responsible for the killing. Nonetheless, it is clear that the police have closed the chapter of investigating Jalib’s murder by speaking publically in the media about the culprits.

It is premature to say if the police have arrested the “real murderers” of Jalib. What needs to be acknowledged is the fact that even such a hasty arrest of assassins will not reverse the Baloch anguish caused by the brutal murder of a moderate, progressive and liberal leader.

(This write-up originally appeared in The Baloch Hal, Balochistan’s first online English newspaper)

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