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Terrorists challenge judiciary

KARACHI: Terrorists have posed a challenge to the courts by kidnapping Owais Ali Shah, son of Sindh High Court Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, while the law enforcing and investigation agencies have  failed so far to recover him.

An eight-member committee, which includes two DIGs, four SSPs and inspectors, has been formed to investigate the kidnapping of Owais Ali Shah. The notification of the committee has also been issued. The committee is headed by DIG CIA Sultan Khawaja and comprises DIG South Munir Ahmed Sheikh, SSP SIU Farooq Awan, SSP South Dr Farooq, SSP CTD Naveed Khawaja and SP Investigation Adil Chandio.

The decision for the formation of the committee was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah. The CM was briefed by the IGP, Director General Rangers Major General Bilal Akbar and intelligence agencies on the case. IG Sindh Police informed the CM that some clues have CCTV cameras and from the vehicle of Owais Ali Shah. Qaim advised intelligence agencies, police and Rangers to coordinate closely for the recovery of Owais Ali Shah.

The DG Rangers, Additional Inspector General Counter Terrorism Department Sanaullah Abbasi and Special Security Unit (SSU) teams visited the incident site. Family sources said that Owais went to Super Market in Clifton to buy something but he did not return. His mobile phone had been switched off since then.

Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Rasheed said the car that whisked Owais Shah away from shopping mall was seen last time at Tipu Sultan Road. He also revealed that 20 to 25 suspects have also been taken into custody for interrogation.

The officers have started snap checking in Karachi and at all its entry and exit points while security has been tightened at Super Highway and National Highway. A search operation has also been launched by the policemen in different localities including Sadar Cantt Station, Baloch Colony and Mahmudabad. SSU and CPLC are also conducting raids in sensitive areas to recover the victim. Mobile data of SHC CJ’s son has also been taken.

Two eyewitnesses have also recorded their statements in this regard according to which four masked armed men got down from a white colour car and took Owais with them. The case will be lodged after the identification of the suspects.

The chief minister directed that a report of the incident be submitted to him in three days. Qaim late on Monday ordered the concerned authorities to block the whole city to recover the son of Sajjad Ali Shah. The chief minister ordered to set up check points across the city to keep all movement at check.

Qaim Ali Shah said the kidnapping of Owais Ali Shah is a serious security lapse. “But I have taken it seriously and Insha Allah he would be recovered shortly,” he said. “How it is possible that four men with their faces covered and equipped with heavy weapons kidnap a person from the courtyard of a shopping centre at 2.30pm and the police and the other agencies don’t know the matter until the victim’s family points it out,” he questioned and said, “It is quite surprising and painful.”

DG Rangers Bilal Akbar said that Karachi operation was going on in full swing. “There is dire need to make it more effective and comprehensive,” he said and added that this would make peace in city sustainable.

Talking about the kidnapping of Owais, he said that different terrorist organizations were operating to destabilize the country. “This is a serious incident and we all are working on it very seriously and working it out with different angels,” he said.

The chief minister directed all the agencies to intensify operation clean up and purge the city from terrorists and criminals. “Enough is enough, there should be zero-tolerance for criminal activities,” he said loudly.

The representatives of intelligence agencies shared their intelligence work with the chief minister and said -fencing they were able to trace the car in which Syed Awais Shah was kidnapped.

The chief minister said that street crime is on the rise in the city. “Criminals are moving freely in the shopping centre’s, at roundabouts and other such areas for looting and plundering,” he said and added that such trend of crime must be crushed.

Taking some policy decisions, the chief minister directed Excise and Taxation and Police Department to launch campaign against fake number plates. The chief minister taking another policy decision ordered all the agencies to launch a crackdown on illegal weapons.

The meeting decided to keep an eye on the activities of aliens living in Karachi and other parts of the province. Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan has also taken notice of the disappearance and ordered the officials concerned to utilize all resources in recovering Owais. Forensic experts are inspecting the recovered car of Owais for likely finger prints of the abductors.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed deep concern over the kidnapping of the son of Justice Sajjad Ali Shah. The prime minister was briefed by the Ministry of Interior on the efforts made so far to recover Barrister Owais. He also directed the civil, armed forces and intelligence agencies to beef up their existing efforts and leave no stone unturned to recover Barrister Awais, said PM Office.

Meanwhile, condemning the kidnapping of the son of Justice Sajjad, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan said it raised a question mark on the performance of the law enforcement agencies.

In a statement, Imran questioned the performance of the Sindh government. He said in a province where the family of the chief justice is not safe then how safe would the ordinary citizen be.

Imran also called upon the law enforcement agencies to recover Owais Ali. Former president Asif Ali Zardari has expressed deep concern over the kidnapping of Owais Ali Shah and sought his safe recovery.

“While condemning this heinous crime I also urge that the conversation on the kidnappings be enlarged so as to also take into account the circumstances and reasons behind the kidnapping of high profile and high value targets in addition to the usual criminality of kidnappings for ransom in the country,” he said in a statement.

The former president said over five years ago Shahbaz Taseer, son of former governor Punjab Salman Taseer, was kidnapped by unknown assailants under mysterious circumstances. “There is deafening silence in the wake of his kidnapping and recovery,” he said.

Zardari said on the eve of 2013 general elections, Ali Haider Gilani, son of former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, was kidnapped and was released after over three years of captivity in May this year. “Reportedly, Gilani was in the custody of kidnappers in a district in Punjab for several months before he was transferred to Waziristan,” he said.

Zardari said ease and impunity with which the criminals accomplished their goal has raised questions about the reach, resources and influence of the kidnappers and their backers as well as their motives.

“While we must seek safe and urgent recovery of Owais Ali Shah from the kidnappers, we should also broaden the discourse by seeking answers to several unanswered questions that have been thrown up in the wake of earlier kidnappings of high value targets,” he said.

The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) also condemned the kidnapping of Owais Ali Shah and demanded the governor Sindh and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to ensure his safe release.

An emergency meeting of office bearers of the PBC was held under the chairmanship of Barrister Dr Farogh Nasim. The meeting resolved that in this delicate and difficult time the PBC and the lawyers community of Pakistan stand with Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and his family and pray for a safe and early release of his son.

The PBC deplored the law and order situation in the entire country, particularly in Sindh, and called upon Ishratul Ebad Khan, Chaudhry Nisar, Core Commander Karachi Lieutenant General Naveed Mukhtar, DG Rangers Bilal Akbar and IG Sindh AD Khawaja to ensure the safe and secure release of Owais and take steps so as to provide complete security to the lawyers, judges, their families and the court premises in Sindh.

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