Murtaza Razvi (
Murtaza Razvi (

Murtaza Razvi, and what should come next

The ceremony for Murtaza Razvi was held in Karachi Friday. Even as more details of the killing of one of the Dawn Media Group’s most senior journalists emerge, it’s difficult to discern a motive. Several Pakistani media quoted an anonymous police official as saying, “We are investigating into the matter but it is a case of murder because his hands were tied and his body bore torture marks and he had apparently been strangled to death” with a belt. The official said police are waiting for the postmortem report.

Colleagues at Dawn, whose tribute to Razvi can be read here, continue to discount his work as a journalist as a motive for his killing. Murtaza’s writing was of a liberal bent; recently, he had been critical of the military and intelligence establishments — which has gotten others in trouble — as well the government’s brutal tactics in suppressing the secessionist movement in Baluchistan. But the overall tone of his work is measured, not the sort of thing to get a respected senior journalist in trouble so deep that it would lead to murder. And if he had been receiving threats from anyone, none of his colleagues have told me about them.

The government’s response has been typical. The state-owned wire service Associated Press of Pakistan reported that Speaker of the National Assembly Fehmida Mirza and Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi  condemned the murder, as did President Asif Ali Zardari, who went one step further and “directed the concerned authorities to submit an inquiry report.”

Such special reports produce little of consequence, as we are all too aware. At times they serve only to drag out the investigation, politicize it, and ultimately obfuscate the facts. What is called for in the case of the killing of Murtaza Razvi is a competent, determined investigation by the police to determine who would brutally strangle a well-respected journalist, so deeply admired by his colleagues.