A PAKISTANI police surgeon who testified that security forces shot dead five unarmed foreigners – including a heavily pregnant woman – outside Quetta in May has been assassinated in what is suspected to be the latest in a series of extra-judicial killings.
Baqir Shah contradicted the testimony of police who claimed five Tajiks and Russians who died at a checkpoint outside the Balochistan provincial capital were terrorists armed with explosives.
Security forces insisted the two men and three women died when one of them detonated a grenade.
But after conducting an autopsy on the bodies, Dr Shah contradicted that testimony, corroborating instead the accounts of several witnesses who said the five had been unarmed and had died after being shot numerous times by security forces.
Dr Shah died late on Thursday as he left Quetta’s Bolan Medical Complex Teaching Hospital, after two gunmen on a motorbike opened fire on his car.
It was the second attempt on his life. The day he gave testimony in the so-called Kharotabad incident he was snatched and beaten by a group of men, one of whom was later identified as a policeman.
Despite a Balochistan High Court order that he be given witness protection, Dr Shah complained he did not receive it.
A recent government report claimed more than 75 per cent of terrorism suspects were set free in Balochistan, and that lack of witness protection was the prime cause of low conviction rates.
Quetta police chief Ehsan Mehboob yesterday condemned the attack as an act of terrorism and said investigations were under way. Hundreds of people – including politicians, journalists and activists – have gone missing in Balochistan, a province wracked by warring tribes and a fierce separatist movement.
A recent report by the Asian Human Rights Commission estimated 206 missing persons had been extra-judicially killed in Balochistan between August 2010 and September 2011.
Friday Times editor and political commentator Najam Sethi wrote this month that “the entire nation should be ashamed of the brutalities unleashed by the military against its own people in Balochistan”.
This week Mr Sethi revealed he too had received numerous death threats from both “state and non-state actors” as a result of his outspoken criticism of the military.