ISLAMABAD, Jan 16: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has summoned the Sindh Inspector General Police (IGP) and Advocate General (AG) to appear before the court along with complete details on the progress in the murder case of Perween Rahman.
The bench, headed by Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani and comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal and Justice Amir Hani Muslim, heard the petition on the unsolved murder of Orangi Pilot Project’s director who was gunned down in March. The judges sought a complete progress report of the case from the Sindh government.
During the hearing, Chief Justice Jillani said that due to the lawlessness in Karachi, there was a complete sense of insecurity in the minds of the residents of the city. “Under the prevailing situation, the sense of insecurity is a natural phenomenon,” remarked the chief justice.
He issued directives to the Sindh IG and AG to appear before the court next week and apprise the bench about the progress made so far in the investigation of the murder case of one of the key figures of the development sector.
The bench, however, was told that currently there is no permanent AG in Sindh. In response, the court directed the Sindh prosecutor-general to represent the provincial government in absence of a permanent AG.
As many as 800 applications have been submitted in the apex court to pursue Rahman’s murder case, out of which most were submitted by people belonging to the development sector and civil society. The petitioners include human rights activist Zohra Yusuf, PILER along with its chairperson Karamat Ali, SAIBAAN along with its head Tasneem Siddiqui, development professionals Arif Hasan and Fayyaz Baqir, journalist Zubeida Mustafa, the Women’s Action Forum through its founder Kausar S Khan, colleagues from Perween Rahman’s Orangi Pilot Project through its director, Anwar Rashid, partner organisations through Jahangir Khan of Rawalpindi, architect and Perween’s student Sobia Kapadia, and Perween’s family through her sister Aquila Ismail. The Sindh and federal governments and the provincial police have been cited as respondents in the case.
The civil society representatives have asked that an independent judicial commission led by a senior judge be formed to investigate the murder of the well-loved architect.
Earlier, the petitioner’s counsel had told the court that Rahman’s murderers were still at large and were allegedly being sheltered by a political party.
Fayyaz Faqir, director of the Akhter Hameed Khan Resource Centre, told The Express Tribune that the petition aims to draw attention to the justice denied to a person who dedicated three decades of her life to redress grievances of the poor in the face of land grabbers.
On March 13, unidentified men opened fire on Rahman who received several bullet wounds and later succumbed to her injuries. Rehman was reportedly working on compiling land records of villages or goths on the outskirts of Karachi which were vanishing into the city’s vastness and were being eyed over the past 15 years by land grabbers. Rahman had also documented land in Orangi Town to protect the informal settlement from land grabbers.
Rahman was recognised in global urban planning circles as a professional who had used her skills in the service of Karachi’s poor. In recognition of that, the department of Architecture and Planning at NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi, has plans to offer the Perween Rahman Course on Housing and Community to its third-year students from March this year. Also noteworthy is the Perween Rahman Fellowship for Community Architects. The Asian Coalition for Housing Rights, based in Bangkok, Thailand, in a meeting of its board, approved a fellowship programme for Community Architects in Asia to be called the ‘Perween Rahman Fellowship for Community Architects.’ A total of 10 fellowships will be offered each year to architects working in the low-income settlements of Asia.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2014.