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The United Nations System for the Protection and Enforcement of Human Rights

International Protection of Human Rights

On 25th February 2016, I gave my Law Skills Portfolio presentation on the topic The United Nations System for the Protection and Enforcement of Human Rights.

The presentation was is part of the Law Skills Portfolio which is a mandatory requirement for QLD for my Bachelors of Law degree from the University of London. I chose this topic from the study of my elective course of International Protection of Human Rights (IPHR).

The United Nations System for Protection of Human RightsI have uploaded the slides for the presentation on Academia.edu. The Original slideshow is linked here, however, the background of the slides was made black and the text was made white in order to comply with the regulations. The notes for my talk are embedded in the slides. The regulations required me to keep the presentation restricted to 10 minutes.


View the Presentation on The United Nations System for the Protection and Enforcement of Human Rights on Academia.edu >>

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An Open Letter to Imran Khan

Dear Mr. Khan

You rallied for change just a year ago in the 2013 General Elections. Your party bagged 7.7 million votes in the General Elections, which set your party as the 2nd most popular party based on the number of votes it received.

Your call for change came at a time when the Election Commission, and the returning officers were screening potential candidates, and many were disqualified on the grounds that they evaded and did not pay taxes, and utility bills. 7.7 million Pakistanis pinned their hopes to your call for a change.

Unfortunately, this change seemed to be just another election buff. After the elections your party rejected the results, protested, and made government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

I would like commend your party’s policies on improving the educational infrastructure and the quality of education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Credit should be given where it is due.

However, your attitude and actions have shown that you too, sir, are one of those elites who bend the law and Constitution to use it to their advantage. You and your party is not respecting the mandate given to your political opponents; you have shown yourself to be no better than those who were totally rejected by the electorate.

You had made a promise of holding local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa within three months. It has been over a year now, and your promise has been just mere words. Is this call for Change just as another hollow promise?

IK in Azadi MarchThe Azadi March which you and your party came up with had dubious goals initially, and later on you settled upon asking a democratically elected Prime Minister to resign, threatening civil disobedience and public disorder. This is clearly against the law, and the Constitution. This, as defined by Article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution, is a ground for disqualification for members of the Parliament.

While protesting peacefully and without arms is a fundamental right of assembly under Article 16 of Constitution, this does not cover attempts to overthrow a democratically elected government, which may be classified as treason. Your actions not just undermine the rule of law, but also violate the laws of our country, and our Constitution.

So, at this point, sir, I am left with some questions unanswered:

  1. Would the PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa promote civil disobedience and non-payment of utility bills and taxes as a Government policy?
  2. Would the PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa not collect GST and other provincial taxes, or would it be hypocritical at this point?
  3. What difference, if any, remains between yourself and your party’s lawmakers who would not pay taxes and utility bills and those prospective candidates who were rejected by the returning officers for evading taxes and for non-payment of utility bills?
  4. If this civil disobedience and public disorder initiated by your party leads to disqualification of PTI lawmakers, including yourself, under Article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution, would you still blame it on this democratic government?
  5. Would you still blame the Punjab police for public disorder in the Capital which would undoubtedly result in PTI’s march towards the Red Zone?

The election reforms you seek are a welcomed change. However this change should come from your elected position in Parliament as a lawmaker and not from a show of force of your street power while laying a siege to the Parliament.

Yours sincerely


Karachi, Pakistan

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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.

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The Tsunami of Change

Before I begin writing this article, I must clarify, that the article below was not meant to offend anyone; I respect each and every individual’s right to have their own opinion, and their freedom of expression and association. The article also contains quoted statements and remarks of other individuals, whose opinions I neither endorse nor denounce.

In troubled times, the fearful and naïve are always drawn to charismatic radicals.

In troubled times,the fearful and naive are always drawn to charismatic radicals
In troubled times, the fearful and naïve are always drawn to charismatic radicals.

This strong, wise saying has stood the test many a times. People are, in difficult times, in a dire need of change: yes, just change, not giving though to the type and consequences and repercussions of such a change; the more radicals the change seems, the more attractive it is.

Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin and Barrack Hussein Obama all called out change to come to power, and indeed those were difficult times for those nations; I wouldn’t go on with history lessons here.

I’d rather talk about the “Tsunami of Change” that the PTI called out for when they were contesting the 2013 General Elections, the elections which brought them to power in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The PTI made tall claims to end corruption and terrorism in Pakistan: now of course the party may have come up with excellent excuse for the failure. Let’s look into these in more details.

Let’s be honest, PTI is not the liberal, vibrant, all-embracing party that many believe it to be and what it partially portrays itself to be. It is a fundamentalist party, or rather a confused fundamentalist party, who favor talks with the Taliban, to such an extreme, that the party failed to condemn acts of terrorism which claimed the lives of its own lawmakers and ministers. Ironic, but true.

The PTI Chief Imran Khan had claimed that they would end corruption in the entire country within 19 days and terrorism within 90 days of coming to power . After coming to power in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mr. Perwaiz Khattak, the PTI’s chief minister of the province stated that cancer of corruption would be eliminated in 30 days. The people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are yet to see this promise turn to reality. Tall claims, yet no actions.

I had earlier written about the PTI chief’s demand to the then PM-elect to either have US drone strikes stopped or shoot down the drones. This has come in as a handy excuse: the PTI claims that these drone strikes are the reasons for failure for the establishment of peace in the province, and comes as a response to terrorist activities, which claim innocent, precious human lives, and the lives of PTI ministers and law makers.

The Peshawar Carnage, other terrorist attacks which kill innocent civilians, and terrorist attacks on the Pakistani Armed Forces and Law Enforcement Agencies, all haven’t deterred the PTI chief’s determination to conduct peace talks with the banned terrorist organizations. As I had stated earlier, I see no distinction between this act and a sheer act of treason against the state of Pakistan. His determination is so strong, that he even stated that the TTP should be allowed to open up an office, for the purpose of the talks.

The backlash again this statement was so strong, that people went on to say that Imran Khan’s house is more or less an office of the TTP, and that the PTI itself is a political wing of the TTP and, I, too stated that the PTI is the TTP’s political apologist.

When a US Drone strike killed the TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud, a notorious cold-blooded terrorist, who proudly claimed killing thousands of innocent Pakistanis, the PTI went haywire. They, it seemed, had lost a comrade. The PTI chief Imran Khan, and the party’s leadership and government of the province went on to blame the United States for all of Pakistan’s troubles and said that they wouldn’t allow NATO supply trucks to pass through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, even if they had to loose their government for that. The reaction of the people become even more extreme:

It now appears that the PTI may soon have to loose their government, if not because of their blockade of the supply routes, then definitely in the elections, due to angry and disillusioned Pakistanis who once had jumped into their bandwagon of “Change”. This is the beauty of democracy.

The reason for Pakistan’s problems, says PTI, is not the Taliban, or illiteracy, or power shortage, or natural resource depletion, or poor healthcare, or poverty, or lack of welfare, but the very fact that the United States is giving aid to Pakistan to overcome the above mentioned problems that the country faces. They go on to say that the War on Terror is not our war and that the Taliban, actually an amalgamation of Pakistani and foreign rebels, are considered by the PTI as our people, who are being targeted by Pakistani military who are fighting America’s war on terror. I sincerely hope the PTI leadership soon realizes that the tens of thousands of people who die in Taliban’s attacks are Pakistani and not American, and killing a human being is inhumane and barbaric regardless of the victim’s race, sex, ethnicity, nationality or cultural identity; and that a terrorist is a terrorist, whether they be Pakistani or foreign nationals.

In his speech on the anniversary of the TTP’s Karsaz Attack on Benazir Bhutto’s homecoming, the PPP chief, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari stated his party would help the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa get rid of the “tsunami” –  the PTI’s election call. It appears that all political parties are feasting on the shortcomings of the PTI government.

Another change the PTI has brought about on Twitter is that the freedom of speech is now quite restricted: “PTI Trolls” are quite famous on the social media, these are those who harass people ‘daring’ to speak out against the PTI point of view, or those who speak out on the folly and policies of the party or its fundamental ideology.

I had read the opinion of a fellow blogger, they stated that the PTI’s policies, although bold and innovative, which promotes home based small industries, and community based healthcare and education, but are actually practically impossible to implement, and if the PTI, by some miracle, achieves this, it will cement their victory in the next elections.

This however, is not in sight in the near, foreseeable future.

Whether the PTI succeeds in its stated aims and objectives is another story, but what the party has succeeded in is exposing the true face of the Taliban, increasing the hatred for the Taliban in Pakistan and for every fundamentalist politico-religious party including the PTI, and alienating many of the people who voted for them in the 2013 General Elections.


https://twitter.com/hasnainzafar/status/397602311520149504

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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.

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War is Terrorism With a Bigger Budget

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A Lesson from Iran

Last night, I searched for the news regarding two bomb blasts near my house when phone calls started pouring in from friends and well wishers asking me if I was safe. I had heard a blast, but thought that it was a tire explosion or some firecracker. It turned out to be an attack on a Police convoy near my house.

Flag of the Islamic Republic of IranOf the websites that appeared on Google search, one of them caught my attention: the tone and style of writing was very different, something you would not find in newspapers. I did not give much thought to it, and left the browser and my laptop open, and went out for dinner with my family. Next morning, I had a closer look to that news piece, and that website too. It turned out to be an Iranian Newspaper. I read articles about the Iranian Presidential Elections, in which Hassan Rouhani secured 50.70% votes. The polls itself recorded a massive 72.7% turnout. The articles mentioned Ayatollah Khamenei with extreme reverence and respect, and even talks about the other Presidential candidates and the incumbent President of Iran Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. All the articles showed great respect to these people, and the comments by the readers further praised them.

A little girl casts her mother’s vote in Iran

One of the news articles about President Ahmadinejad congratulating the new President-elect and their supreme leader Khamenei. This particular article caught my attention, after reading that article I moved on the the comments below. Since the Newspaper was Iranian, its highly likely that its readers and the commentators were mostly Iranian. Almost all the comments thanked the incumbent President, and showed great respect to him.

I’d love to quote one of the comments here:

Farewell, President Ahmadinejad. Thank you for your honesty and tireless efforts to bring peace and justice to our world. May the Lord give us more leaders of integrity such as yourself. Peace by upon you, the Iranian people, and the world.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of the Islamic Republic of Iran
The outgoing President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

This is so unlike the foul language used by our nation for our politicians and leaders. Our current President Mr. Asif Ali Zardari is lashed with obscene, profane and vulgar remarks, by both the public and the media. Our Prime Ministers, the incumbent, Mr. Nawaz Shareef, and the two previous Prime Ministers, Mr. Yousuf Raza Gillani and Mr. Raja Pervais Ashraf, both saw vulgar remarks being hurled at them. The president is usually referred to as “Mr. Ten Percent” and Mr. Raja Pervais Ashraf as “Rental Raja” in relation to rental power scam during his term as the Water and Power Minister in Gillani’s cabinet. Mr. Nawaz Shareef is referred to as “Ganja” which means bald, although he underwent a really expensive hair transplant surgery.

President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari addressing the United Nations
President Asif Ali Zardari addressing the United Nations

The problem may or may not be with our politicians and leaders. The problem is: we elected them our leaders. The Iranians bore a very politically mature outlook. There was a massive turnout, and no allegations of riggings after the polls. The current President and the unsuccessful candidates congratulated the new President-elect; it wouldn’t be unwise to say that a smooth transition of power would soon be in effect. The Iranians voted and choose their leader, and have faith in him; they are proud of their current President and all that he did for the nation.

In Pakistan, each and every current President, Prime Minister, Chief Ministers and other Federal and Provincial Ministers are accused of wrong doings and corruption. We reject them and raise our voices against them, in probably the most indecent manner. Yet we either do not vote at all or simply elect them again. We refuse to accept the mandate we give them. We talk about an uncertain future, a lost paradise; we simply refuse to set things right.

Yes, we Pakistanis elected our government last month. Just a month has gone by, and we cannot accept our current government’s budget.

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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.

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Pakistan: Vote now!

A ballot paper being inserted in the ballot box in Pakistan General Elections 2013On 11th May 2013, the people of Pakistan will vote and elect our Parliament’s lower house, the National Assembly; along with the Provincial Assemblies of the four Provinces. This will be a landmark day, that will decide the future of Pakistan for the next 5 years to come. This day, Pakistani’s will, according to their wishes elect their representatives to rule the country for a mandate of 5 years.

Electing our government is not just our right, enshrined by our Constitution and the Law of our land, or by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed by our founding fathers; it is, I believe, an obligation, a responsibility, that we owe to our nation. Casting our votes wouldn’t just be exercising of our constitutional rights, but fulfillment of our responsibility and our obligation towards our nation and our effort for a better, brighter future.

Election Commission of PakistanBeing citizens of a democratic state it is not just our right to be a part of, or be represented in, the government of our country; it is our obligation! We share as much guilt and sins as our corrupt and/or bad politicians. Why? Because they have had been our representatives, and ruled our nation on our mandate! And for those who overthrew our elected governments and assumed control of our nation, well our silence and ignorance was their approval to plunder our nation, and our money which we pay in form of taxes for the functioning of our country!

Now is the time for a change! We wish for and really need a better, peaceful and prosperous Pakistan, we have to vote for better representatives to do that.

I don’t care who you vote for, I am not asking you to vote for a particular political party or ideology or individual. I am just requesting you to vote! Vote for and elect the party whose manifesto matches your vision for the future of Pakistan; for the party you think is honest and determined to tackle the problems faced by this nation! It is our country, our motherland! We cannot allow corrupt, morally bankrupt people to do whatever they wish to do with our nation!

The Pakistani flag flys high in the skyPlease exercise your right and fulfill your obligation onto our nation! Stamp your ballot paper! Cast your vote! Only you have power to decide the nation’s future! Your action will write Pakistan’s destiny for the next 5 years, and your inaction will seal the country’s fate for another 5! You have been given the right and the authority to decide the future of the nation! Please use this, and use it wisely and fairly!

11th May 2013 is the opportunity and chance we have of fixing our nation, helping it stand on its feet once again, and make our great nation, great once again! I will be casting my vote… Stamping the ballot paper and putting it in the ballot box, with a believe and satisfaction that I did my part!

Democracy - Everyone is equal and respected!Democracy isn’t just casting our vote, we have to keep a check and balance over the people we chose to represent us. If the go astray, we have to remind them that we have given them the mandate and we have the ultimate, collective authority over the way our country shall be governed. Staying silent and turning a blind eye to evils, especially by our representatives is some not less than a sin! I read a quote which was something like this:

The world’s problems do not lie in the evils of a few but the silence of the many!

Its time to rise up! For our nation, for our future and for ourselves! Please cast your vote and vote wisely!

I earnestly request each and every adult Pakistani reading this to vote! If you aren’t old enough to vote, please make sure that all those around you who are, do go to the polling station and cast their vote! Share this with those around you; the least you can do is to ask your loved ones to vote!
SMS your CNIC number to 8300 and check the polling station where you have to cast your vote, and then DO vote please! For Pakistan!

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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.

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