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Brig. Asad Munir’s suicide: Why transparent investigation is important?


News Analysis |

In the latest development, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa on Thursday took suo motu notice of former intelligence official and defence analyst Brigadier (r) Asad Munir’s alleged suicide.  According to local media reports, the CJP has also sought the details of investigations against Mr. Munir by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The CJP stated in his maiden speech that the Supreme Court shall use suo motu powers –Article 184(3) — sparingly, with the exception of cases where either there is no other efficacious remedy available or the available constitutional or legal remedies are ineffective or are rendered incapacitated. This is the first time since the CJP assumed the office that he took the notice.

Mr. Munir allegedly committed suicide on March 15, after the emergence of media reports that NAB had decided to file a reference of abuse of office against him. According to media reports, the anti-graft watchdog decided to investigate Mr. Munir, a former member of the Capital Development Authority (CDA), and others for allegedly abusing their powers to restore a plot in F-11 of Islamabad while violating rules and regulations.

Read more: Asad Munir commits suicide: Implicates NAB in alleged death note

Suicide Note

In the last note accredited to him, Mr. Munir had appealed to the chief justice of Pakistan to bring changes in the NAB’s operations where “incompetent people are playing with life and honour of citizens in name of accountability”. “I am committing suicide to avoid humiliation, being handcuffed and paraded in front of the media,” he had allegedly written.

Mr. Munir was of the view that the plot was restored by the then CDA chairman while he had only recommended the restoration as he was convinced that the restoration was in line with the CDA Restoration Policy, 2007. He further cleared that he remained in the authority from 2006 to 2010 but the case was registered in 2017, after a gap of six years.

Demand for Transparent Probe

The day Mr. Munir allegedly committed suicide, media and citizens expressed grief and sympathy to the family. However, soon social media was seen getting polarized on the question of alleged suicide and demand for an investigation. Pakistan’s prominent journalist Umar Cheema blamed the anti-corruption watchdog for taking the life of Mr. Munir.

“Breaking News: NAB has taken the life of @asadmunir38 as he committed suicide after a reference filed against him. What was the charge, why he was unnecessarily harassed, how honest he was? Details soon. He’s left this world with a pray to CJ to clear his name if found innocent,” he tweeted.

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But some analysts decided not to buy the version being sold out by the anti-NAB segment of media and politicians. Many people on Twitter expressed their sadness over the untimely death of an analyst and former spy-man but, at the same time, they demanded the police to carefully look into the matter.

Dr. Moeed Pirzada, a medical doctor cum anchorperson, tweeted that “Brig. Asad Munir’s death & his suicide note to CJP against NAB is dangerously serious. However, I have, as a doctor, carefully read his Twitter Handle;he does not exhibit the mind of a man who was about to commit suicide; I will seriously suspect “foul play” & demand investigation”

Dr. Pirzada is of the view that nobody commits suicide suddenly.  “#BrigAsadMunirSuicide – Tragic death, but men don’t suddenly decide to commit suicide; “suicidal mind” is well studied in medicine & psychiatry; Brig Asad Munir was writing normal tweets till last night; here is a link to his Twitter; this death looks suspicious @@asadmunir38,” he tweeted.

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It is important to note that in Pakistan, often the cases of honor killing and many other matters, murders are presented as suicide. Therefore, Dr. Pirzada urged the police to keep into consideration the broader picture. “Islamabad Police needs to look at the death of Brig. Asad Munir very very carefully; many a times foul play, is staged to look like a suicide; we are a culturally conservative society & miss out on broader aspects & motivations of crime @dcislamabad

Dr. Pirzada quoted the last tweeted of Mr. Munir and established his case that the man who was about to commit suicide was seemingly quite normal hours before the tragedy.  “And look at this tweet; here is a man, Asad Munir, who is using his usual judgment, his reasoning in all directions; Suicide reflects a broken defeated mind; his unsigned suicide note & his tweets, of last few days, don’t match in terms of emotion,” he said.

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Finally, Dr. Pirzada shared an article written about the symptoms of suicidal behaviour. “Maybe its time for all people to get themselves educated about symptoms and risks of suicidal behaviour around them”.

In the piece, the author maintains that suicide is the name of a state and nobody instantly decides to find a permanent solution for some temporary challenges. He is of the view that hopelessness and increased isolation coupled with depression and anxiety push a person into a state where he/she thinks of ending life.

But in the case of Mr. Munir, things look quite different since he was in a good mood, using social media hours before committing suicide on the grounds of being humiliated by the NAB. The matter is now before the top court and a transparent probe is awaited.

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