By Naimat Khan
It was afternoon of Wednesday, January 17, 2013. I along with journalist friends was having tea at the Karachi Press Club’s garden when a colleague from an international media outlet received a call. The person on phone was Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s spokesman, claiming that his organization had killed Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) lawmaker, Manzar Imam.
Imam, 43, was gunned down a while ago in Orangi area of the city from where he was elected to the provincial assembly of Sindh on MQM’s ticket.
“From when did you start killing people of Tableeghi Jamaat,” the reporter asked LeJ spokesman. “Le, me check,” the spokesman cutoff the phone line. Within minutes, he called the reporter back and said, “We haven’t killed him”.
The TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan was the second to claim responsibility for the attack.
Imam belonged to Deobandi school of thought and had been with Tableeghi Jamaat on preaching missions, his close friends tell.
There was no clue of the killers for more than eight months before the Rangers on September 23, 2015 announced to have arrested a suspect allegedly involved in the assassination.
The alleged killer was MQM man.
According to a statement issued by the Sindh Rangers the paramilitary force arrested the accused during a raid conducted in the Taiser Town area of Karachi.
The Rangers’ spokesperson claimed that the accused, identified as Muhammad Ashiq, was affiliated with the MQM and had confessed of killing MQM legislator and his guard, according to media reports.
The reports also claimed that besides being involved in the murder of MQM MPA, the accused also confessed to killing 12 members of rival political parties and dumping their bodies in different parts of the city using ambulances belonging to MQM’s charity wing Khidmat-e-Khalq Foundation.
The statement further said the accused was produced before an anti-terrorism court, which placed him under 90-day preventive detention. He was never tried in the case.
Then some media reports, citing interviews with investigators, claimed that in August 2010, Imam had closely coordinated with law-enforcement agencies in arresting the LeJ militants involved in the assassination of another MQM MPA Raza Haider.
However, on September 22, 2016, a report in a private news channel claimed and even aired the voice of blindfolded MQM Ashfaq aka chief, in which he confessed that Manzar Imam had been murdered the behest of Asfar Hussain.
Another twist in the murder case came when the arrested LeJ militant on Friday claimed that Imam was killed by them.
“Saeed aka Kaloo was directly involved in the murder of Manzar Imam,” Raja Umar Khattab, the cop having busted group of AQIS, LeJ and Sipah-e-Sahaba militants, told The Frontier Post. Khattab says it’s the handiwork of LeJ.
It’s not the first time that several claims have been made regarding involvement of different groups in a single case. In past TTP militants were eliminated for their alleged involvement in Parween Rehman murder case whereas men associated with MQM were also arrested in connection of murder of the female Director of the Orangi Pilot Project. Later the case turned out to be the handiwork of Raheem Swati, an activist of Awami National Party.
“The multiple claims by law enforcers, sometime made in hast with aims, spoil the cases, depriving the victims of justice,” said Saqib Sagheer, a Karachi based reporter covering crime and militancy.
Published in The Frontier Post