Custodial deaths

Eleven prisoners went missing in 2010 from Adiala Jail. They were suspected terrorists who were arrested on charges of an attack on former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, attacks on Kamra and Hamza Camps, GHQ, and possession of suicide jackets, but were acquitted by an Anti-Terrorist Court. However, they were not released. The Lahore High Court (LHC) then ordered their release but they were allegedly picked up by the intelligence agencies following their release. There was speculation that they were ‘handed over’ to the intelligence agencies by the Adiala Jail authorities. When the Supreme Court (SC) directed the Punjab chief secretary to recover them, the apex court was told by the Punjab Home Secretary that he was helpless. This was in 2010. In 2011, a senior law officer of the GHQ admitted that the prisoners were in their custody. The advocate general explained that they were formally arrested in April 2011 and a case had been registered against them under the Pakistan Army Act, 1952. Apparently, four of the 11 abducted prisoners have died in custody. A missing persons petition has been filed in this regard. The SC issued notices to the defence secretary, ISI and MI director generals (DGs) and judge advocate general (JAG) of the GHQ.

In its World Report 2012, Human Rights Watch (HRW) pointed out that due to pressure from the military, the civilian government in Pakistan has failed to hold those responsible for serious abuses accountable in 2011. Asia director at HRW Brad Adams said: “From Karachi to Quetta, Pakistan is teetering on the edge of becoming a military-run Potemkin democracy.” Pakistan is a national security state where fundamental human rights are violated every day. The death of four prisoners in the custody of the intelligence agencies reflects a pattern and points at a clear policy choice. Extrajudicial killings are not allowed in any civilised society but in Pakistan it has become the norm. Even though the alleged accused were charged with very serious crimes, custodial deaths cannot and must not be tolerated. What does it say about our justice system, society, state and its polity? It is good to see that the SC has made a daring move by issuing notices to the most powerful agencies in the country. Custodial death is murder. The intelligence agencies must explain how the four prisoners died and what the fate of the other seven would be. The immunity with which our military and intelligence agencies operate all over the country is a disgrace and is indeed criminal. The military’s kill and dump policy in Balochistan is out there for all to see. Thousands of Baloch are missing and hundreds of them have been found dead in recent years. Are we living in a democratic state or a fascist one? After several decades of direct military rule and especially after nine years of the Musharraf regime, a democratically elected government coming to power should have made some difference in this regard. Unfortunately, rights abuses continue to take place all over Pakistan.

We cannot turn a blind eye to the military’s barbaric policies. Fundamental human rights and due process of law are enshrined in our constitution. The military cannot make a mockery of the law and constitution as is its wont.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

Comments

Agha Zubair said…
Your story is very touching ,  emotional , interesting and Daring.
Let me add few words before I write another line . I don't know how your friend R_Baloch appeared on my tweeter account and I viewed your chat in alien language. 
I would suggest that before covering a story it's better to review it with a prevision of other possibilities and probabilities !  
Anonymous said…
Your story is very touching ,  emotional , interesting and Daring.
Let me add few words before I write another line . I don't know how your friend R_Baloch appeared on my tweeter account and I viewed your chat in alien language. 
I would suggest that before covering a story it's better to review it with a prevision of other possibilities and probabilities !  

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