Shutdown to Rebuild, Wait, What?!

Shutdown to Rebuild - PTIShutdown to Rebuild, Wait, What?!? Seriously? What  were the PTI’s creative team thinking when they came up with this slogan?

On second thought, this might be perhaps the most clever way to present something that the party plans to do which happens to be so inherently outrageous and morally and legally unacceptable that the party leadership itself condemned the same in the past.

Wait a second: the words ‘Shutdown’ and ‘Lockdown’ as display pictures next to a tweet condemning the same. Now that’s irony and hypocrisy.

That were PTI Leaders Arif Alvi and Khurrum SherZaman criticizing MQM’s strike on 1st May 2014. Few months later, the party is doing the same thing that they know and believe is wrong: PTI is planning to shut down major cities and eventually the whole country. Shutdown or Lockdown to Rebuild. Its an oxymoron.

And not just the PTI leadership, their supporters too:

Lockdown - PTIThey go an extra mile in abusing the MQM for something that their party is now doing.

Massive loss to economy. Yes. That’s what you get when you shutdown the financial capital of the country, or any city, as a matter of fact.

Yes we all agree that shutting down a city, blocking roads or paralyzing any city, is illegal.

But what can we say? The PTI is adamant to go ahead and shutdown Karachi, and Lahore, followed by the whole country. Just as they did in Faisalabad.

Attack on PTV building in Islamabad by PTI and PAT workers.
Attack on PTV building in Islamabad by PTI and PAT workers.

Arif Alvi stated that the loss suffered is over 10 billion for a day the city of Karachi is shutdown. Khurrum SherZaman too states that the loss is in billions. Not just this, we have seen the nuisance Islamabad. Yes, I’m talking about the assault on the Parliament and Prime Minister House. The attack and ransacking of PTV. Occasional attacks on Geo News office.

Pakistan suffered more than just this. This paid protest of PAT and PTI caused much more losses. The Chinese President canceled his visit to Pakistan, that put a question mark (or possibly a full stop) on the future of $32 Billion worth of investment.

The unrest and clashes in Faisalabad, and the enforced shutdown of the city following the death of a PTI worker: it is all condemnable in the strongest words.

But why is PTI doing this then? Because their beloved leader said so.

PTI talks about Justice. Well, even the name of the party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf translates to Pakistan Movement for Justice. However the leader of the Party, cricketer turn philanthropist turn politician, is now a proclaimed offender in Anti-Terrorism Cases before an Anti-Terrorism Court in Lahore (well yes, terrorism in Pakistan is defined too broadly, therefore some of the acts he and his supporters have done fall under the category of terrorism),  and he has proudly challenged the incumbent government to try and arrest him.

Ironically…

PTI's Enforced Shutdown of Faisalabad
PTI’s Enforced Shutdown of Faisalabad.

Shutting down a city, just like they did in Faisalabad, if evaluated under the UK Anti-Terror legislation, is an act of terrorism. Yes, the same Anti-Terror laws for which the PTI grilled the MQM chief Altaf  Hussain, for this his statement about the Three-Swords monument in Clifton, Karachi.

Imran’s aid and ally, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed has gone the extra-mile in calling out to the rioting workers of his party the Awami Muslim League and those of PTI to damage, burn and destroy public and private property to achieve the above stated goals. Incitement to an offence or speech that disrupts public order is criminally wrong. What Sheikh Rasheed has said does not sound just wrong, it is insane, treacherous.

Feisal Naqvi, a Supreme Court advocate, sketched Imran’s desperation to rid Pakistan of its elected Prime Minister in form of humorous future unreleased plans from Plan E to Plan Z; Plan X of which states:

Plan X: Imran Khan files a petition before the Supreme Court, asking for the Independence of India Act, 1947 to be declared unconstitutional. After the court accepts his petition, the Queen of England then appoints Imran Khan as her Viceroy.

Fortunately, or not so for Imran and PTI, English only has 26 alphabets and just like the article above, the number of plans end at Plan Z. However, people have suggested different approaches to this problem.

https://twitter.com/Secular_Pak/status/539093660151738369

The PML-N and PTI are quite similar, ideologically. They are both working in the same way, for the same ideology. They even share the same vote bank. Just as Babar Sattar rephrases it in a question:

Isn’t the Shahbaz Sharif model of governance in Punjab very similar to what Imran Khan is promising in Naya Pakistan: a strongman at the top and everything falling in place under him intuitively?

Of the certain aspects of Imran Khan’s behavior and policies, as Babar Sattar  states in the same article, that would give even his well-wishers the jitters, that most bothersome is the inability of the PTI leader to distinguish between the State and the government and the fact that Imran is willing to hold a gun to the country’s head to negotiate with the PML-N.

2: His vigilantism. Khan’s argument is that since he didn’t get justice on his terms, he’ll now have to shut the country down. Can any rule of law proponent justify such course of action? There is a pattern here. In 2013, PTI had asked its vigilantes to forcibly block NATO containers in KP. That circus was eventually dispersed by court orders.

3: Khan’s inability to distinguish between the state and government. Whether it was Khan inciting everyone to refuse paying taxes and utility bills and sending money through legal banking channels, or his Plan C of shutting Pakistan down, he seems to have no qualms holding a gun to the country’s head to negotiate with PML-N.

4: Khan’s polarizing politics. In a democracy people need to be brought together to forge consensus and get things done, not torn apart. Khan’s message of hope is wrapped in bitterness and hate, which has polarized this country. Today Pakistan is a divided house; even its rational segments at war with one another over political differences. Forget Khan’s ire for opponents and critics, is there room for dissent even within PTI?

We really need introspection and self-accountability all around: the PML-N has to reflect upon whatever has happened the last few months and how they should have handled it; the PTI needs to realize that ends don’t justify means. Both parties need to work together, get to the negotiation tables and resolve their conflicts in a sensible manner, for the sake of the nation.

Trial of High Treason

Whether General Pervez Musharraf’s régime was beneficial to Pakistan or was it tantamount to destruction of the democratic process, whether or not he was a good dictator; it is all a debatable matter.
General Pervez Musharraf in uniformHe, for the first time in Pakistani history, is going to trial for the heinous crime of High Treason.

Pakistani history is marred with the military’s interference in Politics, so much so that out of 12 holders of the office of the President, 4 were serving Generals of the Pakistan Army, who came to power as a result of a coup d’état, overthrowing a legitimately elected government. Even the inaugural holder of the office of the President of Pakistan was a retired army General.

The takeovers were prohibited under the Constitution of Pakistan, and so these Generals, excising their military might, not legal authority, to suspend or hold in abeyance the Constitution of Pakistan, make amendments to it in attempts to legitimize their rule. This act, as defined in the constitution, is an act of High Treason.

Article 6 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan states:

6. High Treason
(1) Any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason.
(2) Any person aiding or abetting or collaborating the acts mentioned in clause (1) shall likewise be guilty of high treason.
(2A) An act of high treason mentioned in clause (1) or clause (2) shall not be validated by any court including the Supreme Court and a High Court.
(3) Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) shall by law provide for the punishment of persons found guilty of high treason.

From the words of the constitution, it is quite apparent that not just Musharraf, but all these Generals committed an act of High Treason by abrogating and subverting the constitution; Musharraf did this twice. The punishment for high treason as mentioned by Article 6 clause (3) of the constitution was provided by the Parliament a month after the constitution itself was enacted, under the short, 3 Section long, High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973 (LXVIII OF 1973). Section (2) of this Act states:

2. Punishment for high treason, etc.:
A person who is found guilty
(a) of having committed an act of abrogation or subversion of a constitution in force in Pakistan at any time since the twenty‑third day of March, 1956; or
(b) of high treason as defined in Article 6 of the Constitution,
shall be punishable with death or imprisonment for life.

Life imprisonment or death: High treason is a serious crime. It is perhaps the gravest of offences. Why then, one may wonder, Yahya Khan and Ayub Khan walk away without ever being reprimanded for their crimes against Pakistan? And what took it so long for the trial of Musharraf to commence after he had stepped down?

Pervez Musharraf stressed

The answer is: The Pakistan Army is really really strong. These men took power when they were serving as the Army’s Chief of Staff, and used their position of power to command the Army to do their biddings. The Army protects its servicemen even after their retirement, and so Musharraf had a cover. Musharraf resigned in 2008 after the new parliament took office after the 2008 General Elections, and expressed its intentions to impeach him. The day he announced his intentions to leave office by stating that he had tendered his resignation to the Speaker of the National Assembly as under law, the man, in face of impeachment by the Parliament, was given a guard of honor by the Army before he left for the United Kingdom to seek refuge from the cases against him since his Presidential immunity lapsed upon resignation.

Musharraf escapes from IHC
General Musharraf, aided by military and paramilitary forces, escapes from the Islamabad High Court after his bail was canceled, and his arrest was ordered.

He spent about 5 years in self exile, and returned when his daughter was able to secure Protective Bail for him from the Sindh High Court; there were arrest warrants pending against him. He came during the time of elections when a caretaker Government was in office for the purpose of the conduct of the 2013 General Elections. When the Islamabad High Court had canceled his bail in a case, his security staff, comprising of military and paramilitary personnel, escorted him away from the court room even though the Police officials in the court room were ordered to arrest him.

When he finally surrendered, his farmhouse (a mansion) was converted to a sub-jail, probably to cut costs on providing him protection: he has angered many people by his constitutional and unconstitutional moves while holding the office of the President. This was the first time, a former army General was arrested, that too the former Chief of Staff.

Musharraf was arrested in multiple cases: Assassination of Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Murder of Former Balochistan Governor and Chief Minister Nawab Akbar Khan Bhugti, the Lal Masjid Operation and Judges’ Detention Case.

The last of these cases occurred when Musharraf proclaimed a state of emergency and suspended the Constitution of Pakistan for a second time. It is pertinent to mention that he is the first of all military rulers in Pakistan to suspend the Constitution twice.

The Supreme Court, on a petition, asked the Attorney General for the Government’s response upon prosecution of Musharraf for High Treason. The Caretaker government responded that it was not its mandate to take a decision on the matter, and that the same should be decided by the upcoming government. The Senate in the meanwhile, and previously too, passed resolutions calling upon prosecution of Musharraf for High Treason.

The government of Nawaz Sharif, formed after the 2013 General Elections, within weeks of taking office through the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan expressed the government’s intentions to prosecute him. They wrote a vague letter to the Supreme Court stating the same, however it lacked instructions of commencing the trial.

It took five months, a sectarian violence in Muharram’s Ashura in Rawalpindi and a curfew in the Capital’s twin city, for Nisar Ali Khan the Interior Minister to announce at a hurriedly called press conference that the Government would be writing to the Supreme Court to form a Special Court under law for the High Treason trial. The announcement was described as a move by many to divert attention from the violence and curfew. True or not, the government through the Interior Secretary, wrote to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, with instructions to constitute a Special Court under the law for the purpose of the trial.

The Chief Justice in turn wrote to the Chief Justices of the 5 High Courts, requesting nominations of judges for the Special Court. Out of all the received nominations the Chief Justice had to select 3 judges for the full bench. Perhaps in order to avoid controversy, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the Chief Justice, forwarded the nominations to the Prime Minister for final selection, and three judges, one each from Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab were chosen to hear the trial. Justice Faisal Arab of Sindh, being the senior most, will head the trial.

Meanwhile a Musharraf’s North America based spokesman lashed out at the government for the move, criticizing it as “undermining Pakistani Military”. He might have forgotten that Musharraf lead the Pakistani Military into an unauthorized warfare against India in the Kargil War from May – July 1999, humiliating Pakistan in front of the world.

Under law, the Special Court enjoys exclusive jurisdiction to hear the treason trial, and no other court, including the Supreme Court can interfere or intervene in its matters and proceedings.

The investigation in this case isn’t complete, and a member of the 4 man investigation committee said:

We would then be in a position to get warrants or directions from the special court for summoning the people who have evidence but were not cooperating at the earlier stage of investigation.

The army might not save his skin this time. A current serving officer of the Pakistan Army, stating that what he was about to say would be his own views not the Army’s since he is bound by the law, to not to make official remarks, while explaining the army’s current stance, more specifically on the War on Terror personally told me:

The Military’s internal policy has changed. It is no longer what it was during the time of Zia-ul-Haq and Musharraf, yes I was in the army during those times. It is no longer like that, and I wouldn’t discuss that; currently the Army has just one mindset: we are subordinate to the Civilian Government. If we are ordered to fight, we will fight, if we are ordered to stop fighting, we will stop, no questions asked.

Statue of Lady JusticeIs this trial too little too late, or just not relevant to the interests of Pakistan. Over the last few years, both Turkey and Bangladesh tried and sentenced to death their former military dictators and their abettors. Would Pakistan follow suit? Musharraf’s trial is not just about him, it is about the Rule of Law over any individual in Pakistan. If Musharraf is punished for his crimes against Pakistan, this would serve as a deterrent to future military ambitionists who aim to usurp powers like those before them. This should be done for Pakistan to evolve as a democratic state where the law is above all; it would officially mark a new chapter in Pakistani history, where the armed forces would be what they should have been: subordinate to the government of the people.

Living in a Terrorized Society

street-crimeBefore you start reading, bear in mind that I do not intend to rant out my grudges against the injustices of our society or deliver more and more bad news, but I do intend to explore the solutions to the injustices in our terrorized society.

My 2nd day at law school, in the first class of Criminal Law, a sentence caught my attention:

Missing persons… Extra judicial killings… so many fancy terms… You are living in a country where there are massive human rights abuses!

Ms. Abira Ashfaq, our criminal law lecturer was referring to the situation in Balochistan more particularly, and the whole country in general. Every day the newspaper headlines read “Missing persons found dead in Balochistan”, this is, quite sadly indeed, becoming the norm, just like street crimes, car lifting etc., became the so widespread and common, that after they had dominated the headlines for quite long enough, the newspapers decided they weren’t newsworthy any longer. The same is happening with Karachi’s issues of target killing on ethnic grounds and extortion.

beaten_upWe aren’t just terrorized by the Taliban in the North-Western region of Pakistan, but by Baloch separatists in the South-West, our own security and intelligence agencies who overstep their authority, street criminals and gangs in our major cities, and our very own political and politico-religious parties.

Laws exist to safeguard the people, their rights and liberties, but why haven’t our laws been effective enough in doing what they were supposed to do? The answer: no one follows the law. When I say no one, I do not just mean the criminals out there, this includes each and every single one of us. Every day, as I drove down the streets of Karachi, I see people driving down the wrong side of the road just to save a few meters of distance, stopping their cars over the zebra crossing if they stop their cars at all when the signal is red. It is quite the norm for people to talk on the phone while they drive, teenagers, under the legal age to drive, are quite often seen driving freely, some teens even text message each other while driving, breaking the law and putting their and others’ lives at stake.

Why does this all happen in our society? I believe this is because each and every one of us, deep down believes that the law does not apply to them. Pardon the lawmakers for a moment please, it’s not just them who believe themselves to be superior to the law. Our elected representative, whom we choose to make the law, believe themselves to be superior to the law, same is the mindset of the bureaucrats, law enforcement agencies and their families.

Lawlessness is deep-rooted in the Pakistani culture and society. We cannot hope to change our society without first changing ourselves. We have to change ourselves: refuse to accept the lawlessness, stand up to injustice, and fix ourselves before we move on to fix our society. As the saying goes:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

We have to hold ourselves accountable for our actions, keep a check on our lawmakers and those who have been entrusted with our security. To build Pakistan, and to rid it of lawlessness and injustices, we have to act!

You may also read my earlier post: An Assessment of Pakistan’s Human Rights Record.

Justice for Shahzeb Khan

The victim Shahzeb Khan
The victim Shahzeb Khan

Shahzeb Khan, the only son of Deputy Superintendent of Police Aurangzeb Khan was murdered in cold blood by Shahrukh Jatoi, Siraj Talpur and two other convicts on 25th December 2012, near Mubarak Masjid in DHA, Karachi.

On 7th June 2013, the four accused were found guilty by an Anti Terrorism Court in Karachi for premeditated murder of Shahzeb Khan, the two prime convicts, Jatoi and Talpur were awarded death penalty, and the other two convicts were given life imprisonment.

Shahzeb Khan was murdered because one of the servants of Talpur abused and harassed the sister of the victim Shahzeb Khan, and the Shahzeb spoke out against it.

Justice for Shahzeb Khan was not easy to come by: the two convicts belong to very influential feudal families in Sindh; even though the victim’s father was a Police officer himself, the Police was unable to register a case against the convicts due to the pressure exerted by their families.

Protest for Justice for Shahzeb Khan
Hunger for Justice: The Supreme Court took a suo motto notice for legal action after large scale peaceful protests all over Karachi.

Even the Pakistani media was slow in reporting the story; it wasn’t until a social media campaign launched by the friends and family of the victim Shahzeb Khan on Facebook and Twitter named Justice for Shahzeb Khan, which gathered momentum and sympathies of Karachiites, and evolved into a series of medium and large sized peaceful protests all over Karachi, that the Supreme Court of Pakistan took a suo motto notice of the matter and ordered the police to register a case against the accused in addition to seizing their property and freezing their bank accounts.

The Supreme Court action came a bit late: Shahrukh Jatoi had escaped out of Pakistan to the United Arab Emirates. The arrest of his father for the crime of helping a fugitive of law to escape made him finally surrender to the Pakistani authorities at the Pakistani Consulate in Dubai. He was arrested and flown back to Pakistan and faced trial for premeditated murder.

Even during the trial, Jatoi’s influential family tried to save him by falsely claiming in court that he was a minor, under 18 years of age, at the time of murder. This was later proven otherwise by medical reports.

Shahrukh Jatoi flashes victory sign outside the court room after conviction
Shahrukh Jatoi, the convicted killer flashes victory sign after being awarded death penalty by an Anti Terrorism Court

After the court found them guilty and the verdict was announced, Shahrukh Jatoi was seen smiling and flashing a victory sign while being taken away.

The counsel for the convicts announced that they would be challenging the verdict before the High Court of Sindh. The case still has a long way to go: an appeal to the High Court, if that is rejected, an appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and if that appeal too is rejected, the convict would have an opportunity to appeal for mercy to the President of Pakistan. If the President finally rejects their appeal would the sentence be carried out.

Still, this is a major victory for the people of Karachi and the family of the victim. Justice is hard to come by in Pakistan, and justice for Shahzeb Khan is a display of the collective strength of the people of Pakistan, especially the young generation, their desire for a fair and equal society; Justice for Shahzeb Khan also demonstrates the power of social media in getting the people to rise up and raise their voice and be heard and in bringing killers to the book and the dispensation of justice.

Justice being done in this case would not bring the victim back to life, but it might prevent more precious lives being lost in the future to suck arrogant and egoistic attitude of the elite of this nation, who believe themselves to be above the law.

The people welcomed the decision wholeheartedly and expressed pleasure and satisfaction; the following is a glimpse of the reaction of the people after the verdict was announced by the court.


Below: A grab from a local TV channel after the convicts were awarded death penalty.

Talks with the Taliban? Think again!

The Right-wing political parties gained the upper hand in the May 11th 2013 General Elections in Pakistan; parties like the PML-N, PTI and JUI-F had massive popular support. The Left-wing, liberal parties like the PPP and the ANP suffered grave losses. With ‘Talks and Peace deals with the Taliban’ amongst their top agendas, these winning Right-wing parties were adamant on putting an end to Pakistan’s War on Terrorism: actually a War for wrestling control from the Taliban and establishing the writ and sovereignty of Pakistan on its North-Western territories.

The Afghan Taliban armed to the teeth with lethal weaponsTo the dismay of these political and politico-religious parties, the Taliban withdrew the peace offer after its second-in-command Waliur Rehman was killed by a US drone strike on Pakistani territory on 30th May 2013. Soon after the attack, Imran Khan, chief of the PTI, was seen on news channels telling the then MNA-elect Nawaz Shareef, now the Prime Minister of Pakistan, to either stop the drone strikes or shoot the drones down.

On 29th May 2013 a petition was filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which sought a declaration by the Supreme Court against negotiations by any person, civilian or military, with a forbidden private army waging war against Pakistan.

The petition was filed by Mr. Shahid Orakzai under the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction on the enforcement of fundamental rights, asked how could the armed forces propose a truce/ceasefire/end of hostilities to the rebels on the territory of Pakistan? The petitioner also asked whether a citizen was empowered by the constitution to negotiate peace with a private army waging war on Pakistan. However the Supreme Court Registrar Office had returned his petition by raising objections that he had no locus standi to file the petition.

Article 256 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan forbids and outlaws any private army within the territory of Pakistan:

256. Private armies forbidden.
No private organization capable of functioning as a military organization shall be formed, and any such organization shall be illegal.

The Taliban are a private army/rebel group, waging war against Pakistan since the beginning of the 21st Century, on Pakistani territory. They have killed and slaughtered over 50,000 Pakistani men, women, children, politicians and leaders, police officers and army officers; they have slain many social workers especially those working for the eradication of the Polio virus. The Taliban out rightly reject the democratic system of Pakistan, its legal system, sovereignty of the Parliament over the territories of Pakistan.

Regarding the activities of some politico-religious groups which support the Taliban and/or peace talks with them, Article 5 of the constitution of Pakistan clearly states the following:

5. Loyalty to State and obedience to Constitution and law.

  1. Loyalty to the State is the basic duty of every citizen.
  2. Obedience to the Constitution and law is the inviolable obligation of every citizen wherever he may be and of every other person for the time being within Pakistan.

Afthermath of a Taliban attack, sudide bombingUnder the provisions of Article 5 of the constitution, would it not be that, according to the constitution of Pakistan, any Pakistani keeping contacts with, communication with, aiding or abetting the rebels waging war against Pakistan, would be committing acts treason? Leaders of our winning political parties, Nawaz Shareef of PML-N, Imran Khan of PTI, Fazal-ur-Rehman of JUI-F, all have been in contact with the Taliban, our media who receive calls of Taliban’s spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan when he calls to proudly claim responsibility of terrorist activities his organization carries out, Imams of mosques in rural and urban areas of Pakistan who openly sympathize with these terrorists, are they all not guilty of treason? I do not intend to accuse anyone; interpretation of the Constitution is the responsibility of the Supreme Court, which recently failed to take up the above mentioned petition.

In the video below you can see what the Taliban does in the areas it controls. The video below shows extremely violent acts committed by the Taliban (decapitating humans), NOT suitable for children, those with a weak heart and certainly NOT for those who do not wish to watch it. Be advised.

UPDATE: The copy of this video hosted on Vimeo, earlier embedded here, was removed by Vimeo staff because “it depicts extreme violence”, The video has been replaced by the same copy hosted on this server.

An Assessment of Pakistan’s Human Rights Record

Coat of Arms of Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Govt. of Pakistan

Ever since Pakistan became a sovereign state, the issue of human rights has been one of grave importance. The partition of India in the second half of 1947 saw one of the worst massacre, as thousands of individuals were slaughtered, made homeless, raped and abused in the process of migrating to the homeland of their choice. Governments on both sides of the newly drawn borders could not do much to prevent this; they were silent spectators to one of history’s most bloody moments.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In 1948, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was presented in the United Nations General Assembly; Pakistan was among the 48 states that voted for the adoption of the Declaration. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights passed that year with 48 votes in favor, no votes against it and 8 abstentions. The declaration became an integral part of Pakistan’s constitutions, all three of them, and still is an integral part of the fundamental rights enshrined in, and guaranteed and safeguarded by the current constitution.

Pakistan, however has seen much ups and downs in its political arena. The Constitution, when first suspended by the first coup d’état, saw unlawful arrests, exiling of influential political figures, and unreasonable restrictions being imposed upon the citizens, as the Martial Law administrator General Ayub Khan said that he believed in “Democracy with Discipline” (there wasn’t any democracy, just the innocent civilians being disciplined along military lines). During the era of Gen. Yahya Khan, when East Pakistan, now Bangladesh was fighting for its independence and dismemberment of Pakistan, the Pakistan Army committed severe human rights violations, which may be classified as atrocities and war crimes. The army massacred many professors scientists and doctors in the East, and was accused of rape and torturing prisoners to death.

Public  flogging in Pakistan during the Zia regime
Public flogging in Pakistan during the Zia regime – Human Rights Violation?

After Prime Minister Bhutto was ousted from office in another coup d’état, and General Zia-ul-Haq took over; the country saw its worst nightmare. The Constitution was ridiculously amended and new laws were promulgated in the process of ‘Islamization’. These new laws, aimed at legitimizing Zia regime, provided the administration far-reaching powers to suppress political activities. Public floggings became a common sight, political parties, trade unions, student unions, all were banned; those who dared to question Zia’s legitimacy or actions were tortured to death. The Hudood ordinances, provided for the punishments of victims of rape, and took away the rights of inheritance of women.

After Zia’s era, the Constitution was abrogated twice by Gen Musharraf, however this did not accompany large-scale human rights violation. Musharraf’s attempts to control the judiciary backfired, and the protests eventually lead to Musharraf leaving the country, and the presidency. The situation has improved greatly since. General elections were held in Pakistan in 2008, that saw the coming of a democratic government, which introduced the Constitution 18th Amendment act 2010, which reversed many of Zia-ul-Haq’s changes, and introduced articles, to safeguard the right of education and grant the right to a fair trial.

Islamabad Police beating up a protester
Police Brutality – quite common in Pakistan

Judiciary and the Election Commission in Pakistan are now fiercely independent; this means that the right to a fair trial and right to participate in the country’s government for all Pakistanis are now secure. Much has still to be done; prisoners are still being tortured in jails, child molestation is still taking place in underdeveloped urban areas of Pakistan, according to UNICEF reports.

Sindh Police beating a protester in Karachi
More Police Brutality – you just cannot stand up against injustice

Pakistan, although has a democratic government, there are still incidents of human rights violation by the government. The Pakistani constitution, for example, guarantees the right to freedom of expression, subject to “reasonable restrictions imposed by law in order to protect the glory of Islam…”. This provision is being used as a tool to impose censorship on media and access to Internet. YouTube, the world’s most popular video sharing platform is not in Pakistan, just because a few videos insult Islam. This action of censorship, in my humble opinion, is violation of an individual’s freedom of speech, expression, choice and right to information as granted by the universal declaration of human rights and the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and law.

The government has also failed to protect the right of life of its citizens; many people fall victims to target killing and terrorism each day. There have been instances of the law-enforcement agencies doing just that: in June 2011 the paramilitary forces shot dead an individual in a public park accused of armed robbery.

Protesting against Human Rights Violation in Pakistan
The poster says it all – protesting against Human Rights Violation in Pakistan

The situation of human rights abuse is improving in Pakistan, ever since the democratic forces have come to run the country. Pakistan, however has still a long way to go, before it transforms itself from a security state to a welfare state, which safeguards all the rights of its citizens without any discrimination of any kind whatsoever.

Read more about this issue:

There’s a Special Place in Hell for Spammers!

Spammers will be shot on sight!A little while ago, I logged into my dashboard and found a whole lot of comments caught as spam by my anti-spam software.

This website being my personal blogging platform, doesn’t attract much unknown visitors, those who read my blog are actually people whom I know, or have known due them reading my blog regularly. A sudden burst of spam comments? What is going on? The backup of this website on WordPress.com attracts well over 300 spam comments every day, almost all caught by the anti-spam software there, but an even larger number here, and that too within a shorter time period!

So what really is spam?

Spam is the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages, especially advertising, indiscriminately. While the most widely recognized form of spam is e-mail spam, the term is applied to similar abuses in other media. Spamming remains economically viable because advertisers have no operating costs beyond the management of their mailing lists, and it is difficult to hold senders accountable for their mass mailings. Because the barrier to entry is so low, spammers are numerous, and the volume of unsolicited mail has become very high. In the year 2011, the estimated figure for spam messages was around seven trillion, the figure for this year (2012) is expected to be even higher. The costs, such as lost productivity and fraud, are borne by the public and by Internet service providers, which have been forced to add extra capacity to cope with the deluge. Spamming has been the subject of legislation in many jurisdictions. A person who creates electronic spam is called a spammer.

And where does this spam come from?

Well, it comes mainly from spammers. These spammers may be an automated bot (a computer program made for this purpose), a company/organization trying to publicize their product(s), themselves or for a financial gain, fraud or a cause (which may in some rare cases be simple and just) or individuals bent upon publicizing their business startup/blog that leads to advertising revenue.

Rank Country Spam vol. %
1 India 13.9
2 Russia 9.0
3 Vietnam 7.9
4 (tie) South Korea 6.0
4 (tie) Finland 6.0
6 China 4.7
7 Brazil 4.5
8 America 3.2

So what’s actually so wrong about spamming?

Spam can be used to spread computer viruses, trojan horses or other malicious software. The objective may be identity theft, or worse (e.g., advance fee fraud). Some spam attempts to capitalize on human greed whilst other attempts to use the victims’ inexperience with computer technology to trick them (e.g., phishing).

Apart from all that, spamming is a type of in-your-face advertisement, filling you e-mail/SMS inbox with useless, meaningless often fraudulent advertisement. This reduces productivity by take up space, both storage space, display space and bandwidth (data transfer space).

Some spam contents are also ethically objectionable and morally wrong. Most common spam these days is about winning lottery, being made a beneficiary by rich business tycoons about to die, discounted travel, cheap Viagra, fake medicines, pornography, online dating and get rich quick schemes.

Legal status

As mentioned earlier, spamming has been the subject of legislation in many jurisdictions. Many countries, states and territories, with the notable exception of Bulgaria, have illegalized spamming, making it a punishable criminal offence. For the state specific legislations see the Wikipedia article on E-mail spam legislation by country.

In Pakistan, it is prohibited under Section 14 (1) and (2) of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance 2007. This law illegalizes and criminalizes spamming, and provides for a fine of up to PKR 50,000.00 (approximately 830 USD at the time the Ordinance was signed), and for repeat offenders a prison sentence of 3 months or a fine of PKR 50,000.00 or both. However I still see spam, lots of it, in almost all of my e-mail inbox and my SMS inbox.

Some questions that pop up in my mind:

  • Why do people comment on “nofollow” blogs? (i.e. blogs that prevent search engines from crawling to their links)
  • Why do people spam when they do realize that spam protecting software will bust their spams?
  • Why on Earth do they just do all this, I mean when they have better options for publicity!

What I’ve decided…

Some time back, I came across a statement on a blog that was somewhat like this: “There’s a special place in hell for spammers”. I am totally in favor and agreement of this statement. Spamming is illegal; breaking the law is like doing a sin, and sinners, figuratively speaking, go to hell, and actually speaking, law breakers go to jail.

I’ve now decided to make up a policy to combat spam, and would, like all other policies, enforce it strictly.

UPDATE: I’ve made up the Spam Policy!