Once again, international human rights NGOs, media, and even the UN have Pakistan in their sights. As usual, we are accused of ignoring human rights violations. How can this even be possible? As I will now prove to you, Pakistanis are not human rights violators, actually we are the world’s greatest human rights defenders!
Liberals note the abuse of blasphemy laws for land grabbing from religious minorities in Pakistan, but does this mean that we don’t care about minority land rights? No! Many Pakistanis take out massive rallies against land grabbing by Israel.
International media prints reports about an epidemic of violence against women in Pakistan, including cases of rape going unpunished. However, ask any Pakistani man and he will tell you in deep forensic detail about rapes and other abuses faced by women in India.
Human Rights NGOs spread stories about Pakistan security agencies killing unarmed youths and murdering journalists, but does that mean we are ignoring abuses of security agencies? Absolutely not! Obviously these NGOs are the ones ignoring the outcry in our own media against abuses by security agencies in America.
Now once again the UN is pointing fingers at Pakistan over the mysterious disappearance of activists, just like they have pointed fingers over missing persons in Balochistan. Liberals are pointing at social media trends like #WhoAreTheyDefending and #MissingOrRAWterrorists to say that we don’t care about enforced disappearances. Not true! We have been leading all efforts to raise awareness about enforced disappearances in Kashmir.
It is clear that all accusations are part of a world wide conspiracy to defame Pakistan. The proof is clear to anyone willing to admit facts. Pakistanis are the world’s greatest human rights defenders…for everyone except Pakistanis.
Two incidents this week indicate that justice in Pakistan continues to be elusive. First was the promulgation of Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (Amended) which quietly dismissed all missing persons cases and gave agencies a blank check to maintain secret prisons for anyone who they decide has done as little as ‘issued threats’.
The ordinance denotes that the persons under detention of security forces will be considered detained from the day of promulgation of the ordinance. Those facing charges will be tried in courts and the security forces will have ‘indemnity’ on their detention.
The second incident involved the controversial case against a mentally ill British man accused of blasphemy. On Thursday, he was convicted and sentenced to death. Sentencing a mentally ill man to death for blasphemy is questionable enough, but the case became even more disturbing when the court proceeded to carry out proceedings in secret and without the accused man’s attorney present.
His lawyer told the BBC’s Saba Eitizaz that she was forcibly removed from the case by the judge and that proceedings were carried out behind closed doors.
Justice cannot be carried out with blank checks and secret proceedings. There is no doubt that agencies are facing a difficult mission to protect the nation from terrorists, but use of secret prisons and lack of oversight for agencies gives fuel to the terrorists anti-state narrative. Similarly, supporters of blasphemy laws like Tahir Ashrafi always say that the problem is not with the law but with the application. Convicting and sentencing to death a mentally ill man without allowing his lawyer to be present is a casebook miscarriage of justice in any case, but in the case of blasphemy laws it only provides more evidence that fair application of these laws is only a fantasy.
The miserable situation our nation faces is readily apparent in the sad fact that a debate emerged about who between our soldiers and the terrorists attacking us is and is not worthy of the title ‘shaheed’. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar termed the debate as ‘poisonous‘, but the truth is it is but a symptom of the poison that has already been unleashed in our veins. With due respect to the Minister, we cannot find a cure if we continue to ignore the sickness.
One person willing to examine the patient in an objective light is respected professor of international law Waris Husain. In a piece yesterday, he makes the point that ‘it becomes harder to assign legitimacy and bestow the honour of martyrdom to criminals, if/when the state represents and respects the rule of law for all its citizens’. In his piece, he refers to secret support for US drones, but on Twitter he expanded on this and included another important example: missing persons. Continue reading