Missing prisoners: Skeletons with urine bags

I will never forget the agony of the missing prisoners who were brought before the court - with urine bags.

Azam Khan February 22, 2012
For many the media is a watchdog, but some want to make it a scapegoat to achieve their short-term personal goals. The prevailing crises in the country have also increased the challenges for the media to maintain its credibility and impartiality.

I have no words to highlight the threats made to media people by the Difa-e-Pakistan Council, or certain terrorist groups. But today I still have something to say.

One of the country’s top lawyers, defending the prime minister in a contempt of court case, also accused the media of negatively portraying the issue. “Don’t get into this controversy, they are half-literate,” was the reply of one of the honourable judges.

To report the plight of the missing prisoners was another test for the media. Reporters who had assembled outside the courtroom of a missing persons hearing were ‘advised’ by intelligence officials to “report the issue in a balanced way”. However, when the reporters asked them (the intelligence sleuths) of their own conduct with the ‘terrorists’, they had no answers.

I was there and will never forget the agonies of the missing prisoners who were brought before the court. Most of them appeared to be skeletons, and were holding urine bags, presumably because they had lost control of their bodily functions in captivity. And then I saw this crying woman whose two sons were among the skeleton-like prisoners, and she wouldn’t stop weeping.

Even if these people were suspected of being involved in terrorist activities, they did not deserve this kind of treatment. They should have been either charged with the crime or freed. And so if those whose job it is to uphold the law start doing what the terrorists do, then what is the difference between them and the latter?

In the hearing itself, the lawyer for the various intelligence agencies who had been made respondents in the petition submitted in writing to the court that the media and civil society were portraying them negatively, almost as if they were enemies.

So while much is made of the media being a very important pillar of today’s society – and there is no doubt that it is – people should realise that there is also immense pressure on it from various actors.
WRITTEN BY:
Azam Khan The writer is an Islamabad-based journalist and works for The Express Tribune
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

COMMENTS (15)

Ich Dien | 9 years ago | Reply @syed hussain: my very belated reply is a simple quote by Benjamin Franklin who said: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." If problem is with law than make new law, if that is not being done blame the legislators (who never delay a bill regarding increase in their own perks). If no witnesses than again giving protection to witness is also job of the same agencies and also if our ppl are so afraid than do we deserve the freedom and peace we yarn for?? Name one society where the burden of proof is on the accused? it is always prosecution who has to prove the guilt (without any doubt) till than its simply "INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY BY A COURT OF LAW".
Umar Farooq Khawaja | 9 years ago | Reply @syed hussain: Did you read your own comment while writing it? The burden of proof is ALWAYS with the prosecutor. In every civilised society in this world, including Islam. In fact, for serios crimes with capial punishment, the standard Of proof required is even higher, for example, to stone someone for zina, you must provide four eye witnesses, not just two.
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