'An affront to human rights': Lawyers, journalists weigh in on Naqeebullah murder case verdict.

Five years after the murder of Naqeebullah Mehsud, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Karachi acquitted on Monday all 18 accused, including former SSP Malir Rao Anwar, with the judge observing that the prosecution had failed to prove its case.

Mehsud was killed in a police encounter at an abandoned farmhouse in the outskirts of Karachi, along with three other victims on January 13, 2018. An inquiry team found that he was killed in a 'fake encounter' staged by the police.

The murder of the 27-year-old aspiring model from South Waziristan had sparked anger over social media, as well as country-wide protests, to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Five years on, the court has declared that former SSP Anwar and all his 17 subordinate officers are not guilty of Mehsud's murder. Here's what legal experts and journalists had to say about the verdict:

No one killed Naqeebullah?

Journalist Munizae Jahangir tweeted the million-dollar question when she asked: 'So no one killed Naqeebullah?'

She added that 'obviously, evidence was removed and Rao Anwar even allowed to disappear then to reappear in SC from back door with full security.

'What a joke they have made of the criminal justice system,' she surmised.

Darkness meets darkness, again

'On some days, there's just nothing to say,' Barrister Asad Rahim Khan told Dawn.com, adding that 'injustice has been institutionalised in this country'.

'The key to this case was a swift trial and determination,' he said. Instead, brutal policemen colluded with Sindh's ruling elites and the darkest parts of the state to ensure - over the course of five years - that the process was corrupted, managed, and whittled away to nothing, he added.

The least the system could have done was to avenge Naqeeb's death, even if not during the course of his father's life. Instead, it has returned yet another acquittal - whatever the evidence, whatever Rao Anwar's appalling record of extrajudicial murder, whatever the fact of an entire movement erupting around the killing of an innocent man, said Khan.

With the shining exception of Jibran Nasir and his colleagues fighting it out, this is yet another episode of darkness meeting the darkness.

But this verdict will be appealed, because it must, he stressed.

The system was never workable

Was this outcome unexpected? Frankly, no, said lawyer Basil Nabi Malik.

The problem with our justice system and it's ability to prosecute an accused is well known. Whether it be in relation to properly...

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