By Ammar Shahbazi
The execution of Saulat Mirza, who claimed association with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), in the wee hours of Tuesday at Mach Jail Baluchistan, marks the end of a life spent in pursuit of a flawed idealism.
He sold his youth to political rhetoric that promised a fantastic dream land and ended up as “tissue paper” as he admitted in his last televised talk.
Back in the mid-90s, Karachi’s district central was his ‘home turf’ but his name boomed across the city as his alleged terror activities expanded in breadth and scope.
Born in North Nazimabad, Mirza attended the Shipowners College in the area and soon made his presence felt as a fearless young man, who can “respond to the repression of the state in a fitting manner,” as a political activist from the same neighborhood puts it.
He joined MQM under the patronage of another notorious criminal Fahim Commando and soon became a household name in the neighborhood and beyond, media reports suggest.
It may sound strange but until Mirza spoke against the party and its leadership in his last televised talk, aired on 19 March 2015, he enjoyed the status of a cult hero among the young party activists. The tales of his terror were often quoted and his many audacious escapades became a part of the party’s folklores.
He was arrested in 1998 from the Karachi Airport while traveling in a fake I.D. As the prime accused in the murder of KESC’s managing director Shahid Hamid, his driver and guard, Mirza was sentenced to death in 1999.
For the past 17 years, Mirza lived a comfortable life in Karachi Central Jail. And, given the kind of luxurious stay at the death cell, it can be safely assumed that he never believed that he will be executed one day – until since last couple of months, when the tables turned.
So much so, that in a dramatic turn of events, a few hours before his scheduled execution on 19 March 2015, a recorded video was distributed to the TV channels, in which, Mirza named the party’s founder and other senior leaders, of assigning him the task to murder the MD of KESC.
Those who managed to extract the last minute “confession” from Mirza locked up in a high-security death cell in Machh Jail perhaps promised him his life in exchange of naming names.
He did so, hoping against hope, that he will be spared. But somewhere back in his mind, he must have thought that he was once again being used as a ‘tissue paper’.
*The writer is a journalist based in Karachi