KARACHI: A large number of protesters took to the streets in Karachi on Monday to raise their voice against the recent spree of mysterious disappearances of social and political activists across the country.
At a protest at Karachi Press Club, protesters lamented that lawlessness is evident in the country as peaceful activists have begun to disappear mysteriously and the state pays no heed to the matter. The demonstrators, belonging to different NGOs and political and civil society groups, vented out their anger over the abduction of Fatima Jinnah Women University lecturer Salman Haider and other bloggers.
Addressing the protest, National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) general secretary Nasir Mansoor demanded that the ‘so-called democratic government’ should take these matters seriously or else such ignorance will result in anarchy in the country. He said that it is clear now that instead of terrorists, the government is more terrified of the peaceful activist including bloggers who criticise the government on important matters including security and point out the flaws in their policies. He stressed that it is far better for the government to concentrate on its governance and implement the National Action Plan with serious intentions instead of nabbing peaceful activists of the country.
“The matter of abductions was limited to Balochistan in the past, which the state tried its best to suppress so that it never made it to mainstream media,” he said. “However, it’s shocking that after cases of forced disappearances began to surface in Sindh, they have now reached the capital of the country, Islamabad, which is considered to be the safest place in the country.”
Talking to The Express Tribune, Mansoor claimed that the family of Salman Haider and others are now being threatened to refrain from reaching out to the media. He mentioned the execution of bloggers in Bangladesh during the past few years.
Mansoor criticised the silence of the federal interior minister. “How come he meets known terrorists and closes his eyes when banned outfits take out rallies in the capital while intellectuals like Salman Haider go missing from the capital?” he questioned.
Home-Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) general secretary Zehra Khan questioned if we are living in a democratic country because of the way law is implemented here. “People abducted from any part of the country; [even] if [Salman] has committed any crime, present him in the court,” she demanded. “That is how law is implemented in democratic countries.” She further said that the parliament should also take notice of the disappearances of individuals such as Salman Haider as they represent the whole nation.
A protester, Muhammad bin Tahir, who is a social sciences student, was shouting slogans against the government, demanding immediate recovery of the missing activists. “What crime have these people committed?” he questioned. “Is it a crime to point out the loopholes in governance?”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2017.