Who killed the girl saint of Karachi? By Hasan Mujtaba
(An attempted translation of an Urdu column published at Jang, Pakistan, April 30, 2015)
Mummies and Daddies, living across the Clifton Bridge of Karachi, get to know about the troubles and travails of most other citizens only when their maidservants or drivers from Baloch Colony, Liyari, or New Karachi, tell them about the misery that their own friends and acquaintances faced that day.
Or as my friend tells me, “Mummies and Daddies felt the miseries only when a shortage of fresh vegetable occurred at Agha super market.” Only then they realized that something bad has happened in the city. In such a situation a girl like Sabeen proved that they she was a saint.
Sabeen Mahmud the saint was murdered. We cannot name the event at T2F from which she was returning when murdered. But we can say that she was returning from a ‘banned’ seminar that she arranged at T2F. A banned seminar, about a banned issue, a banned people, with banned speakers.
Sabeen Mahmud left after that banned seminar, in a tiny Suzuki car with her mother (she was not an elite that she would ride in a double cabined land cruiser with security guards). And then at a traffic light, five bullets came. It happened in Defence Society, and for the ‘believers’, the whole world is a Defence Society.
The message was loud and clear. “Anyone who would try to discuss the ‘banned issue’ and the banned people would be despatched to the hereafter”.
Let’s not utter the name of the banned uncle. But we can utter the name of our ‘atomic hero’, who is the uncle of the nation. Even if we do not take the name of a ‘banned people’, Pakistan will still be called a multi-racial state. Now a days we also hear about a “Deep Sate”.
After Sabeen’s death we also received a message that she was not murdered by Uncle Type of people.
Let’s not speculate who killed Sabeen Mahmud. Did US, Isreal, India, Taliban, or MQM killed Sabeen??? Or did Sabeen kill herself?
Was Sabeen like Razia Bhatti, who my friend Ijaz Mangi used to call a snake charmer of truth, putting her hand in the snake- pit, every day.
Was she a child playing on the lake, who, according to a Sindhi proverb could drown any day?
Or did she use to ride on a motor bike in the well of death?
Or was she an acrobat walking on a tight rope across a large and deep lake full of alligators?
Or was she a circus girl of Karachi, who used to put her head in the mouth of a ‘tamed lion’ each night? And then one night the lion ate her. Who can now tell the lion that we smell the blood of a girl in your breath?
Was she killed because she used the eight letters from Urdu or English alphabet? If taking the name of Baluchistan and discussing its problems and misery is condemnable by death, then we should say good bye to the country and mourn for it and not just for Sabeen.
High civil and military officers say, “No it is not true, we did not kill Sabeen”. “We have better things to do.” Then they begin listing their good deeds.
But the murder of this girl across the Clifton Bridge is as high profile as that of Mir Murtaza Bhutto.
These two murder mysteries have one similarity. Curious and anxious people began naming the perpetrator in less than 24 hours. Just like they suspected the name of Murtaza Bhuttos’s killer in less time than it took the killer to shave his mustache. In Sabeen’s case, people also began naming one suspect.
We do not say who killed Sabeen, because we do not know. In a city like Karachi or even in Pakistan it is difficult to say. Because to say such things is to invite immediate death.
But we can ask:
Did the same people kill Sabeen, who killed Liaqat Ali Khan?
Did those who kill Hasan Nasir, also killed Sabeen?
It is speculated that Ayub Kirmani the information officer who leaked the news of Hasan Nasir’s death was also killed, and it was declared that he committed suicide.
Was Sabeen killed by those who killed Akbar Bugti? Or those who killed Akbar Bugti’s sister? Or those who killed Nazir Asi? Or those who killed Saleem Shahzad? Or those who burnt Maqsood Qureshi alive? Or those who fired at Hamid Mir?
An experienced crime reporting journalist in Karachi told me that, the investigators of Sabeen’s murder are very scared. For them it is an open-and-shut case. Is it a case that scares the investigators?
Someone wrote at social media that it was the murder of the “Koel” of the city.
Murder of the fan of Jimmy Hendrix, Apple Mac user, and computer geek, girl-saint of Karachi, is the murder of Karachi itself, a Karachi that refuses to be born. This is the murder of Karachi of tomorrow.
The flag bearer of free speech, who created a Hyde Park Corner in Karachi was murdered. Speech itself was murdered. Are some voices more powerful than an atom bomb that these need to be murdered? It does not happen in free societies. It is impossible to kill the spirit of freedom.
When will the uncles understand this?
Now this girl has become a character of the modern folklore. One of her friends has called her a Post Modern Hippy.
If the uncles did not kill Sabeen Mahmud, then whoever killed her has played a trick on uncles.
It is because they had the primary responsibility of protecting Sabeen Mahmud. They knew that the story of this seminar could become the noose around their necks. To protect Sabeen from T2F to her home was not as difficult as protecting a nuclear bomb. If they are not involved then they should find the culprit. They should sweep under their own bed.
They should do it before an investigating officer puffing again and again on a half smoked cigarette declares that, “it is a matter of conflict between national and foreign intelligence agencies”. Or with a foresight declares that this girl with dangerous thoughts and vision was murdered by the agents of Black Water.
She was murdered because she wanted to raise the birds and words of free speech.
Dear people, say something:
Say that it is not “safe” to write a poem like this,
Say that under this roof it is not appropriate to mention
a song, a movie, pen, or paper,
or to sip coffee.
O Karachi say that an un-armed girl,
who was telling your story,
was a danger to the powerful and mighty people.
Say that your lips are not free!
(Original in Urdu was published at http://jang.com.pk/jang/apr2015-daily/30-04-2015/col5.htm)