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ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Human Rights Cell of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Farhatullah Babar strongly condemned the caretaker federal government and agencies for brutal use of force including tear gas, water cannons and baton-charging at peaceful protesters from Turbat in Islamabad and Rawalpindi for raising their voice against enforced disappearances.

“The excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators from Turbat to raise their voice against enforced disappearances in Rawalpindi and subsequently in Islamabad is condemned in the strongest terms.

If the law enforcement agencies hoped to prevent their voice from reaching far and wide, they have miserably failed,” Babar expressed these views while talking to media after visiting the uprooted camp in front of the National Press Club, Islamabad, Thursday afternoon.

The sight of a few frightened men and women crammed in the uprooted camp with no one from the government to put balm on their wounds would send shivers even among the coldest observers, he said.

“The protestors did not expect that the march would result in the production of the disappeared nor they sought a showdown. They only wanted their voice to reach out to the powers that be in the capital and to the world at large.

The images of state brutality against them in digital spaces, if not in mainstream media, however, has frustrated bid to stifle voices of anguish,” he said.

He said that since 9/11 enforced disappearances have been institutionalized as admitted by General Musharraf in his memoirs that hundreds of people were handed over to the CIA in return for millions of dollars.

“The Commission of Enforced Disappearance set up under legislation in 2010 has utterly failed as it has not identified, let alone prosecuted and punished, a single perpetrator of the crime. The impunity of the crime is frightening and poses a threat to the integrity of the federation”.

He said that in the month of December one wishes to recall the Supreme Court’s verdict delivered in this month a decade ago in 2013 in the case of disappearance of 35 persons from Malakand Internment Centre as reported in PLD 2014 SC 305.

The SC then identified the elements behind the disappearances and directed the government to “immediately proceed with the case and ensure recovery of these persons within seven days and submit report to Registrar for our perusal.” It also directed that “the persons who are responsible for the same, should be dealt with strictly in accordance with law,” he said.

He said that disappearances with impunity brought to mind the frightening Chilean model of the 1970s when fear and terror were institutionalized through disappearances and extrajudicial killings.

“The Chilean dictator Pinochet was finally brought to justice to some extent under the principle of universal jurisdiction to punish such crimes. It may be a small consolation but the victims of disappearances and their families in Pakistan perhaps do not seek this consolation. All they seek is that those who have disappeared be brought into the open and tried under law for any wrongdoing they may be alleged of having committed,” he said.

Babar urged the authorities to heal the wounds of the families of victims of disappearances before it was too late. “Let compassion, humanity, and the rule of law and not the ego of a few individuals serve as the compass,” he said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Parvez Dec 22, 2023 12:25pm
Good....at least someone is speaking out. Though today as also yesterday what he said mattered little to those running the show.
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