Proof that Pakistanis are World’s Greatest Human Rights Defenders

Shireen Mazari Human Rights Defender

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.

Kashmir uprising a distraction from local atrocities?

wani-beesThe latest Kashmir uprising has united Pakistan unlike anything before. Whole nation has come together and is ready to sacrifice for the liberation of Kashmir from Indian oppression. Even APS massacre was not able to keep the nation united like Indian abuses in Kashmir has. In his speech at the UN, PM Nawaz Sharif noted the abuses being faced by Kashmiri people and even offered to provide a dossier documenting these brutalities. Kashmir has been the top news story for months, and social media has become filled with Burhan Wannabees. But there is another place where Muslims are being abused and even killed in much larger numbers, so why nobody is rising up to defend them?

Human Rights Watch has released a new report documenting that thousands of Pakistanis are being murdered by police in fake encounters. Such atrocities come as a surprise only because our media does not celebrate them like atrocities in Kashmir. However, if Burhan Wani being killed by Indian security forces makes him a martyr for Kashmir, how can we not give the same title to Pakistanis illegally killed by Pakistani security forces? Social media is filled with Burhan Wannabees, but no one is seen wearing a mask of Aftab Ahmed who was tortured to death by Pakistan Rangers.

Kashmiri people are facing horrible abuses by Indian security forces, and we have declared that we will even gladly die in a nuclear war to free them, but we will do not even notice when our own fellow citizens are facing the same abuses and even worse? I am not saying that social media’s keyboard commandoes should be rallying behind a ‘Karachi Intifada’, but I am saying that we should stop to think why are so passionate about abuses somewhere else and so dispassionate about the same, and even worse abuses at home.

Where is Saeed Baloch?

Saeed BalochSaeed Baloch is human rights activist since 1980s and General Secretary Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF). On 16th January he was called to Pakistan Rangers office in Kemari. He has not been seen or heard from since.

51 rights based organisations have condemned Pakistan Rangers treatment of Saeed Baloch and demand his immediate release. Asian Human Rights Commission has noted that such treatments is a known danger of handing over powers to the military.

The arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance of Mr. Saeed reveals the dangers of handing over sweeping powers to military, paramilitary and law enforcement authorities under the draconian Anti-Terrorist and Protection of Pakistan Acts (PPA).The Rangers and other paramilitary and military officials often abduct a person keeping him under arbitrary detention and later seek remand of 90 days from the anti-terrorism courts under the draconian Pakistan Protection Ordinance (PPA).

The archaic and faulty criminal justice system of Pakistan makes it possible for the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) to extend their tentacles wherever they deem fit, often seeking vengeance against those who dare uncover their tyrannical designs. Instead of actually tackling the material and ideological infrastructure of terrorism in the country, the authorities routinely abuse their powers to target those engaged in resistance to injustice and inequality.

Who can forget the tragic story of Sarfaraz Shah an unarmed youth who was shot and killed in the street while pleading for his lift after being confronted by Rangers in 2011? Therefore is it any surprise when human rights organisations report that encounter killings have increased significantly?

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s (HRCP) annual report for 2014, around 592 people were killed in alleged encounters with the police and Rangers. In 2013, which the HRCP termed to be Karachi’s deadliest year with 3,251 deaths, around 184 were killed in encounters.

There can be no doubt that Rangers and other forces have an important role when the country faces serious threats from criminals and terrorists. However it is also important that Rangers and other security forces maintain the trust and faith of the people who they are protecting. This will quickly become undone if innocents like Sarfaraz Shah are killed in the streets or if human rights workers like Saeed Baloch are disappeared. Effective counter-terrorism operations must have the element of transparency to reassure the people that terrorists are being targeted and not innocent people or those targeted for political issues. Then there can be no doubt about security forces as the nation will be united.

Selective Outrage and Selective Justice

Pakistan Rangers raid nine zero

In the past two posts, I have already looked at how the justice system allows cases to hang over the heads of politicians for decades without ever coming to any resolution while speedily dispatching cases against extremist elements (usually in the form of acquittal). I have also discussed the way that evidence is handled, namely that there can never be too little against politicians and never enough against militants. Today, I want to take a look at another piece of the puzzle which is the selective way that justice is meted in the first place.

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Pavlovian Response

nationalism

‘s story today was guaranteed click-bait. It’s basically the sensational allegations of Rao Anwar cloaked in the credibility of the BBC. That’s a big deal. Whether or not anyone in the UK really cares, it will probably be the BBC’s biggest story today as it will have the undivided attention of hundreds of millions of Pakistanis. Hyper-nationalists began hysterically Tweeting making hashtag #BBCprovesMQMisRAW top trend in Pakistan.

This too is a big deal. Even the typically levelheaded, though, are affected by such hyper-nationalist propaganda. Adolf Hitler explained this in his book Mein Kampf:

The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over. Here, as so often in this world, persistence is the first and most important requirement for success.

Hyper-nationalists and their bot armies repeat talking points ad nauseum because eventually we all begin to internalise them whether we realise it or not. Here is an intellectual who I respect a great deal whose response to the BBC story is essentially an expression of internalised hyper-nationalism.

Why do I say this is an expression of internalised hyper-nationalism? Let us set aside all the problems with sourcing in the report and for the sake of argument assume that everything in the BBC story is true.

Officials in Pakistan’s MQM party have told the UK authorities they received Indian government funds, the BBC learnt from an authoritative Pakistani source.

This is really the blockbuster revelation and the only point to the BBC report. The rest of the contents are old allegations and probably apply equally to every political party and others: Money laundering, criminal activity, illegal weapons, etc. The only difference is that now we are told that some of MQM’s money, which we were always told before came from criminal enterprises, came from Indian government. This is where the conversation ends. The simple fact of taking Indian money is enough for conviction on all counts of ‘selling their souls’ and ‘betraying the country’. Something is missing, though, which is any explanation of why. What India got for their money?

Was it Indian money that funded massive rally in support of Pakistan Armed Forces?

The typical answer is actually presented by Owen Bennett-Jones himself in his report: destabilising Pakistan.

Back in 2011 a British judge adjudicating an asylum appeal case found that “the MQM has killed over 200 police officers who have stood up against them in Karachi”.

Last year another British judge hearing another such case found: “There is overwhelming objective evidence that the MQM for decades had been using violence.”

The problem of violence that plagues Karachi is undeniable, but the British journalist perpetuates the hyper-nationalist error of presenting violence as one-sided and without any historical context. The truth is, MQM was founded in the 1980s as a defensive move by Karachi’s Mohajirs who found themselves helpless victims. Anti-Mohajir violence has persisted since before 1965 massacre, Qasba–Aligarh massacre in 1980s, and actions like ‘Operation Clean Up’ in 1990s. MQM has been the target of near constant schemes by officials who have taken to inventing fictitious evidences against the party such as fake ‘Jinnahpur Map‘ saga. It is fair to note the history of violence that continues to plague Karachi, but pretending that MQM is the guilty party due to Indian money requires closing one’s eyes to the rest of the story. This does not excuse MQM violence, but if MQM is guilty of destabalising Karachi, aren’t Pakistan Rangers are equally guilty also? If 90 is a base of destabalisation, what is GHQ?

This is the biggest failing of the BBC report. Even if everything in it is 100 per cent authentic, it is so incomplete as to be worthless. Even if MQM took Indian money, there is no explanation of why or for what. In the end, though, that isn’t the point. We have all been conditioned like  Pavlov’s Dog to respond to the words ‘Indian funding’ with hyperventilating and frothing at the mouth. Even an esteemed lawyer like YLH has been sent into a spiral of despair over the selling of souls and betrayal of the country, and yet both of these are nothing but assumptions based on the initial Pavlovian response to hearing the words ‘Indian funding’ and nothing else.

Despite being dressed in BBC’s suit, there are serious questions about the credibility of claims that MQM has taken funding from India. The sources are anonymous and identified as only ‘a Pakistani official’, which could very well be DG-ISI or even Rao Anwar himself for all we know. It is old wine in a new bottle. Or in this case, the same accusation only wearing a British suit instead of Pakistani uniform. What remains missing is not only any hard evidence of the Indian funding, but what that alleged funding actually bought them. But that’s not the point, is it? Merely mentioning ‘Indian funding’ is enough to achieve the goal, which is more than simply discrediting an opponent – it activates our Pavlovian conditioning so that we will accept anything that comes next, no matter how much we know it is not in our best interests.