I had never heard of Zafir Zuberi, an 18-year-old boy, with dreams, ambitions and plans like any young teenager, until 3rd December 2017 when I first read about his cold-blooded murder via social media. The news of his murder sent shivers down my spine, my mind spinning into thoughts about his grief-stricken family, outward to his large circle of bereaved friends. Then, I realised Zafir’s death was a loss for our society, and caused by our society. He lost his life due to no fault of his own, but ours! He died because we failed to put a full stop to the ‘VIP culture’ in Pakistan. This has not been the first time such brutality has unfolded. There is no indication it will be the last. Since the grief over Shahzeb Khan’s murder in 2012, little has changed. It is obvious how the same mechanism is employed by the mighty and influential to get away with murder. I would plead with my country that Justice be served this time, not only because Zafir’s parents have lost their beloved son, but because we do not want to lose another innocent Zafir in the future. We do not want another broken family at the hands of these killers, who roam the streets of Karachi with the boast, “Tu Jaanta nahin hai mein kon hoon?” People like Shahrukh Jatoi and Khawar Burney should be publicly punished so no one in the future dares killing another innocent soul. “With great power comes great responsibility” was here twisted into, “With great power comes great impunity”. I managed to get in touch with Zafir’s best friend, Irham, who was clearly still grief-stricken. He had been in the car at the time of the murder. He told me, “A sudden stream of gunshots pierced the early morning silence, in no time Zafir promptly enveloped my body to capture the bullets in his own, and saved my life, readily giving up his own.” “Let alone that, immediately after incident while I screamed and yelled in utter despair for some ‘ghairatmand’ to come forward and help me lift Zafir, in that moment humanity failed and I was bereft of any support from the eyewitnesses, who blatantly stared and instead recorded the aftermath.” At this point, Irham was in tears. The excruciating pain of witnessing his best friend being shot multiple times is something we cannot begin to understand. My blood boiled when I saw the media coverage of the cowardly Khawar Burney, where he confessed to the crime and claimed it to be mere negligence. Mere negligence cannot explain the use of a deadly weapon multiple times. Think about what this means. Burney had a deadly weapon, chased down Zafir, and killed him – and says this was negligence. Either Burney is so callous that he can afford to be negligent with innocent lives, or he thinks that chasing someone and shooting them multiple times is simply what negligent people do. It was merely careless of him that Zafir died, right? This was not negligence, or a mistake. It was a calculated show of power and immunity to the law of the land. For Burney, this was just how a gun is used – ‘VIP’ can kill as they please, because he knows that his wealth automatically gives him immunity from law. Listen to his miserable justification, given to Zafir’s father, “Us ne meri bike ko thoka mene us ko thok diya.” When violence is wielded improperly and without public oversight, humanity sinks to the level of beasts This was in no way an accident or mistake. It was an act of terrorism. The worst part of this tragedy is that, in valuing his bike and Zafir’s life equally, Burney displayed the mindset typical of the so-called VIP. Any assault, deliberate or otherwise, against his property must be met with terror. The police have stated that the murder of Zafir (and the attempted murder of his friends), does not constitute an act of terrorism. Thus, offences under the Anti-Terrorism Act were not added in the FIR. I ask the police, does roaming around with 4 heavy double cabins loaded with guards not create a sense of terror amongst the general public? Besides, even if, technically, there are grounds on which the police can defend their claim, does this not show an unseemly leniency toward Burney? Burney’s easy use of the gun is a token of a culture that has contributed to the bloodshed of many innocents. Here guns are more like a social necessity without which wealth cannot be displayed. Burney was carrying illegal weapons to not only intimidate the general public but also commit crimes of murder whenever the slightest chance arose. This scratch to his delicate ego resulted in a lethal tantrum. Zafir fell prey to this culture but now he is a symbol of all ordinary citizens who suffer at the hands of these urban terrorists. Zafir has left the world but his leaving gives us an opportunity. We need to organize against this oppression, because remaining silent will mean tacit acceptance to these thugs. Their pretensions to power cannot be bowed down to. The public must condemn such atrocities, and Zafir’s aggrieved family needs the public to stand by them and show their power. If our country’s silence persists on this brutality then this culture will completely swallow us one day. Our society itself has set up an atmosphere of oppression through power imbalance, enforced via the barrel of a gun. When violence is wielded improperly and without public oversight, humanity sinks to the level of beasts. Then any animal with a gun thinks himself to be powerful. This has happened here. We have let the brutality of our society persist, and now it has taken root. The powerful, whether in physical strength, authority, or wealth, seem to have a green light to live their lives on their own terms without any sense of accountability. The ordinary citizen is coerced into accepting their fate in silence. Wake up Pakistan! How many more young deaths will it take for us to eliminate these monsters from our society? Put yourself in Zafir’s place and imagine his terror. Think about how helpless your parents would have been, how much they would long to see Burney and his ilk punished! Be a voice for Zafir before you might become the next Zafir. As a citizen of Pakistan, I appeal to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo moto notice of this case so that justice is served. If justice is delayed, society loses all hope, and drops into complete disorder. We look up to our Judiciary and expect it to deliver justice expeditiously to the people of Pakistan. The author is a law student and a motivational speaker. She is working for woman empowerment with NGO ‘SHE’, and is also a member of the National Youth assembly.