Anatomy of a murder

Ali and Zaman in The Herald:

SabeenIt was a 9mm gun, probably a Stoeger. Before Saad Aziz got this “samaan” through an associate, by his own admission, he had already plotted a murder. On the evening of Friday, April 24, 2015, he met four other young men, all well-educated like him, somewhere on Karachi’s Tariq Road to finalise and carry out the plot. As dusk deepened into night, they set off towards Defence Housing Society Phase II Extension on three motorcycles. Their destination: a café-cum-communal space – The Second Floor or T2F – where an event, Unsilencing Balochistan: take two, was under way. Their target: Sabeen Mahmud, 40, the founder and director of T2F. Two of Aziz’s associates, he says, “were just roaming around in the vicinity of T2F”. A third was keeping an eye on the street outside. Aziz himself was riding a motorcycle driven by one Aliur Rehman, also mentioned as Tony in the police record. When he received the message that Mahmud had left T2F, he says, he followed her. “Suzuki Swift, AWH 541,” he repeats her car’s make and registration number. As the car stopped at a signal less than 500 metres to the north of T2F, “Tony rode up alongside it.” Mahmud was in the driving seat, Aziz says. “Next to her was her mother, I think. That is what we found out from the news later. There was a man sitting in the back. I fired the gun four or five times at her.”

Sitting in a sparsely furnished room within Karachi Police’s Crime Investigation Department (CID), Aziz appears at ease even in blindfold. Recounting the events of that evening, he never sounds hurried or under duress. After shooting Mahmud, he says he and Tony turned left from the signal towards Punjab Chowrangi and reached Sharae-e-Faisal, crossing Teen Talwar in Clifton on their way. While still on the motorcycle, he messaged others to get back to Tariq Road. Once there, he just picked up his motorcycle and they all dispersed. “We only got confirmation of her death later from the news,” he says. “At that moment [of shooting], there is no way of confirming if the person is dead. You just do it and get out of there.” It was on February 13, 2015, when he says he decided that Mahmud had to die. That evening, he was at T2F, attending an event, The Karachi “Situation”: Exploring Responses. “It was something she said during the talk,” he recalls. “That we shouldn’t be afraid of the Taliban, we should stand up to them, demonstrate against them, something like that. That is when we made up our minds.” Later in the conversation, though, he adds, “There wasn’t one particular reason to target her: she was generally promoting liberal, secular values. There were those campaigns of hers, the demonstration outside Lal Masjid [in Islamabad], Pyaar ho jaane do (let there be love) on Valentine’s Day and so on.” He laughs softly, almost bashfully, as he mentions the last.

More here. (Via Dr. Fahad Qazi)