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Op-ed

Pakistan Leads in Human Rights Violations

Tanveer Jafri, June 23, 2011

Formed in 1947, with intent to establish an Islamic state, Pakistan can today be seen crushing every Islamic teaching and ideal. The Koran clearly prohibits any ill treatment of an innocent. It equates killing of an innocent with the killing of humanity in entirety. Dozens of innocent people are getting killed in Pakistan on a daily basis—sometimes in the hands of the Taliban and suicide bombers, sometimes by the security forces themselves. Many mysterious deaths are even said to be the handiwork of the ISI and the Army. 

Recently, 40-year-old journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad was killed just because he was doing his job honestly. On May 31, Shahzad had to lay his life for exposing the unholy nexus between the Pakistani Navy and al Qaeda. “Islamic” rulers of an “Islamic” country couldn’t tolerate the truth being brought to the fore by a true Muslim journalist. In this flagrant case of human rights violation, not only an innocent has been killed but also an attempt has been made to suppress the freedom of the press. Reportedly, the ISI is said to be behind the assassination of Shahzad.

Within a week of this ghastly incident, another gruesome act of human rights violation took place in Karachi on June 8. Sarfaraz Shah, 19, was dragged out of a park by a man in plain clothes. He was pushed towards a group of Sindh Rangers, a paramilitary force, who were in uniform and armed. The unarmed young man pleaded for his life as one of the Rangers pointed a gun at his neck. The Ranger then shot him twice at close range, hitting him in the thigh. The young man was writhing on the ground, bleeding heavily and crying for help. Shortly after, he died from his injuries.
 
A journalist made an amateur video of this horrendous act. This disturbing video has been watched widely across the world. Pak Rangers didn’t like their inhuman act being exposed. Now they have threatened the journalist who made that video.
 
The killing of Shah didn’t go down well with the Pak judiciary. Taking suo motu cognizance of this gruesome act, Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry not only ordered the removal of Rangers Director Major General Ejaz Chaudhry and Police Commissioner Fayyaz Leghari, but also directed the accountant general to withhold their salaries if its orders were not carried out. Justice Iftikhar said, “Rangers were indulging in target killing instead of stopping it.” In their defense, Pak Rangers are alleging that Sarfaraz was involved in a robbery, whereas his relatives are saying that Sarfaraz was just walking in the park. The Supreme Court has also ordered the verification of Sarfaraz’s past crime record, if any.
 
Many sincere and responsible people in Pakistan have expressed concern over this incident. The worries of the Pakistani people are accentuated by the fact that Pak Rangers are an indispensable component of Pakistan’s internal security and work directly under the Interior Ministry. Therefore, such an act of daylight killing of an innocent puts a big question mark on the working of the internal security system of Pakistan. Though Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik has ordered an enquiry into it, Prime Minister Gilani has protested the criticism of Pak Rangers. Defending the Rangers on the floor of the National Assembly, he said, “State institutions cannot be blamed for the actions of some individuals.”
 
In a similar incident on May 17, five unarmed Chechens (three men and two women) were killed by the Pakistani security forces in Kharotabad near Quetta. Among the women, one was seven months pregnant; the troops shot her with 12 bullets. When faced with criticism, the Pak Army contended that three of them were suspected suicide bombers, even though no arm or weapon is recovered from their possession. The charge against troops is that they tried to molest a Chechen girl, and when she and her colleagues resisted, the soldiers shot them dead in cold blood.
 
Clearly many countries suffer grave human rights abuses, but such cruel and inhuman acts by the Pak security and intelligence agencies certainly put Pakistan near the top of the list.

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