9th April 2022
By Shaukat Korai
Activists, lawyers and society at large are pinning their hopes on the courts to ensure justice in the Nazim Jokhio murder case, however the relief being given to the prime accused in this case, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Member of National Assembly (MNA) Jam Abdul Karim Bijar and Member of the Sindh Provincial Assembly (MPA) Jam Awais Bijar Khan Jokhio, is mounting fears that the criminal justice system will fail the oppressed and favor the oppressor.
Nazim was beaten to death reportedly for recording a group of foreigners, who were guests of Jam Awais, poaching migratory houbara bustards in Thatta. His body was recovered outside a farmhouse owned by the MPA on November 3, 2021. Prior to his death, Nazim had recorded a voice message in which he claimed he was receiving death threats and was being ordered to delete the video.
A total of 15 people were nominated in the case, including the two officer holders. Jam Awais was arrested when he voluntarily turned himself over to police two days later, on November 5. He was not formally charged until two months later in late January 2022. His brother and co-accused, Jam Karim, and four others were declared absconders.
The complainant in the case, Nazim’s brother Afzal, initially pushed for the immediate arrest and trial of the culprits, but eventually agreed to settle the matter. However, Nazim’s widow Shireen, refused to accept a compromise and maintained her demand for justice from the State.
On March 25, just hours after returning from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in order to cast his vote in the no-confidence motion, Jam Karim secured a 10-day post-arrest bail from the Sindh High Court (SHC). He was driven to the court by Karachi Administrator Murtaza Wahab. A few days prior to this, Jokhio’s widow Shireen, submitted an affidavit to the court that she had resolved the matter and did not object to the SHC granting bail to the accused. She also stated that Jam Karim and Jam Awais had no role in the case.
On March 30, she uploaded a video on social media in which she announced that she could no longer continue to fight the case alone and expressed no hope for justice in the case. In the video, she declared she had pardoned the accused MNA and MPA.
Widow of #NazimJokhio says she has pardoned lawmaker #JamAbdulKarim of @PPP_Org, and other accused in the murder of her husband without taking anything in return because she was abandoned by her own people and didn’t have the capacity to fight the case pic.twitter.com/qbEBrQjKBM
— Naimat Khan (@NKMalazai) March 30, 2022
In wake of these developments, lawyer and human rights activist Jibran Nasir announced that he would pursue the case.
“Section 9 of the National Commission for Human Rights Act, 2012, empowers the Commission to become a party in any case in which a gross human rights violation has occured. I and other lawyers will appear in court on behalf of the Commission as we understand Nazim Jokhio’s family, especially Shireen Jokhio, were pressured into rescinding this case.”
A Malir Judicial Magistrate in his verdict ordered that provisions for terrorism be included in the case as the incident was an attempt to spread terrorism through show of force. However, the directive has yet to be implemented, as court orders are limited to the Office of the Prosecutor General. Further action can only be taken when the charge-sheet in the case is submitted to an anti-terrorism court, however said charge-sheet remains pending with the Prosecutor General.
But with the accused being formally pardoned by the complainants in the case, the question remains whether the case can still be dismissed if it contains terrorism charges.
Counsel for the accused, Barrister Mustafa Mahesar, states that the law permits reconciliation.
“If a party is willing to compromise, they are allowed to exercise that right,” he provided.
However, Jibran Nasir states that there are various Supreme Court verdicts for cases which involved terrorism charges, and that a case cannot be thrown out if a the family of a victim chooses to pardon the killers.
“It is important to understand that criminal cases are between an individual and the State. The heirs of the victim may pursue the case, however it is the duty of the State to prosecute,” he explained. “In the Ghulam Hussain case, the Supreme Court held that there are three categories of terrorism: terrorism committed on the basis of language, religion or politics. An MNA and MPA, who are also the leaders of their clan, ordering the torture and murder of a man who raised his voice against them, definitely constitutes terrorism.”
Leading lawyer and former Deputy Attorney-General for Pakistan Barrister Haq Nawaz Talpur provided that if the courts find that the writ of the State is being challenged, then it will no longer be a compoundable case.
“Section 302 [of the Pakistan Penal Code] for murder is a compoundable offence, however offences under the [Anti-Terrorism Act] are all non-compoundable,” he said.
Nazim Jokhio’s heirs have chosen to maintain their silence, and will not be pursuing this case any further.
While the court’s decision in this case will be final, there is a precedent for handing down punishment to the accused in cases where the plaintiffs had chosen to settle, as the case carried terrorism charges. One such example is the Shahzeb Khan murder case, in which the heirs of the slain young man pardoned his killer, Shahrukh Jatoi, however the courts awarded jail terms to the accused.