Who is Shahzeb Khan? Many in Pakistan are asking this question.
There was little or no news about him on mainstream media. But through social media, the face of this young 20-year-old has become a symbol of hope against Pakistan's powerful feudal-elites, who live with impunity, above the law.
Pakistan's social media is overflowing with Shahzeb photos with words of sympathy and tributes to the young student who was murdered on 25 December 2012 in Pakistan's largest city Karachi near his apartment:
Till Tuesday night, only a few hundred knew who Shahzeb was. Now, the deceased young man has become a symbol of change.
Reports and family say Shahzeb was shot dead by two young men from feudal backgrounds Nawab Siraj Talpur and Shahrukh Jatoi, who were with their armed guards. Before the shooting, a small argument erupted between Shahzeb and Talpur, after one of Talpur's employees passed a lewd comment at Shahzeb’s sister. Shahzeb’s father Aurangzeb, a police officer, quickly resolved the dispute. But later that day, Talpur and his friend came back with vengeance on their minds and guns in their hands and eventually killed Shahzeb Khan, the only son of his parents.
The sad incident was described in this report published on the Express Tribune:
Shahzeb Khan didn’t even get time to change the clothes he wore to his sister’s valima (wedding reception). He was in his dark grey dress shirt and trousers when four 9mm bullets pierced through his car – a gleaming blue Swift which was an early birthday gift from his parents, and entered his body, eventually killing this popular 20 year old.
At first, the family had a hard time registering the case due to political pressure from the well-connected Talpurs and Jatois - two well-known Feudal families in Pakistan. “The police first registered a dummy First Information Report (FIR) but later it took him (Shahzeb's father) hours to re-register another version of the FIR naming the actual culprits” Dr. Awab Alvi told GV. He cautions:
If it could happen to a police officer’s son - it can happen to any person in Pakistan!
The names of key suspects in Shahzeb’s murder have been put on Pakistan's Exit Control List (ECL)and a team of investigators has been dispatched to different areas, as per this published report.
Social media responds
Interesting as it may sound, photos of the suspects have been uploaded on the Sindh police’s unofficial Facebook page and is being shared by friends of Shahzeb on their walls with the caption ‘Wanted Criminal’.
Friends and family of Shahzeb started a Facebook page to seek justice for his murder. The Page “In Memory of Shahzeb Khan“ had some 2,500 Likes in less than a day, and has surpassed 60,000 Likes till now (31 December 2012) brimming with messages like, ‘I’ll miss your smile, RIP and you were a real soldier.' Another message on the Facebook page reads:
“Shahzeb Khan was a man of gold, an inspiration and a hero. It is now on our shoulders to bring the murderers of Shahzeb Khan to justice and insist on bringing about a change before it is too late to realize how the simple understanding of justice could have made the difference”
“Pakistan needs to wake up as it could happen to any Pakistani”, such tweets along with condolence messages were shared using the hashtag #JusticeForShahzebKhan
Prominent personalities including politician and chairman of Pakistan's Tehreek-e-Insaf party Imran Khan; Nuclear Scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan and musician (founder of Junoon band) Salman Ahmad have pledged their support to the Justice campaign. The response by Imran Khan was retweeted some 400 times:
Deeply disturbed to learn about the tragic cold blooded murder of young Shahzeb Khan in Karachi by a kin of some “influential” person.
Dr. Qadeer Khan's tweet:
We all should demand #JusticeForShahzebKhan. Stop it now or be ready to become the next Shahzeb. Decision is yours.
Salman Ahmed's reaction:
The killing of Shahzeb Khan is an attack on all of Pakistan's youth. I stand in solidarity with his brave father Aurangzeb.
Vigil for the fallen victim
Thousands gathered at Karachi Press Club on Sunday afternoon (30 December 2012) for a candle light vigil through a Facebook event.
Protesters carrying posters and photographs of a charming Shahzeb, repeated slogans of “We want justice, Justice for Shahzeb Khan”, demanding suo motu action from Pakistan's chief justice.
Moved by the peaceful protest, Shahzeb’s friends, put this message on the Pageafterwards:
“Amazing turnout at the protest. We can’t thank enough to all the people who stood hand in hand protecting Shazeb Khan's Family, maintaining the discipline. This is just the first brick to the never ending revolution we AIM and bring down the cowards who take pride in misbehaving with our females, and taking lives of the innocents!