ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties in the Senate on Friday submitted an adjournment motion to discuss the the assassination of human rights activist and Advocate Supreme Court Rashid Rehman in Multan on Wednesday .
Signed by Awami National Party’s (ANP) Afrasiab Khattak and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Farhatullah Babar, the motion said that within the month before the gruesome assassination, Rehman had alerted authorities about the threats to his life from certain individuals, whose names he had also identified. The motion added that the assassination had raised issues of grave and urgent public importance.
Reportedly Rehman had complained to the judge of the court that he was being threatened by certain individuals to dissuade him from professionally defending an accused.
The motion said that the assassination highlights the denial of fair trial to persons accused of religious crimes dramatised by threats and assassination of defence lawyers.
Senator Farhatullah Babar said that it was most disturbing that the defence of the legal rights of those accused of religious offences had become almost impossible. Not only is it difficult to find defence lawyers in such cases, but the courts are also often besieged by mobs demanding instant death without due process.
The professional complainants, often with ulterior motives, are also readily supported by the police, the prosecution, the media and the clergy as everyone bends over backwards to secure a conviction of those accused of offences relating to matters of belief, he said.
He added that the peace talks process appeased the militants and strengthened the hardliners, eroding the right to fair trial and due process in belief related cases.
While the vulnerable citizens feel terrorized because of shrinking space for defence available to them, the not so vulnerable sections of the populace are terrorised by the draconian measures envisaged in the Pakistan Protection Bill, the senator said. “The adjournment motion is intended to highlight the all pervasive reign of terror and fear gripping the society and to brainstorm how to banish it from our midst.”
Meanwhile, PPP Human Rights Cell has also condemned the assassination of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Coordinator and demanded immediate arrest of the culprits.
“It seems that the voices of reason, who speak up for justice, and who speak up against bigotry and fanaticism are being targeted one by one, and the state is a silent spectator,” Dr Nafisa Shah said. “Unless the killers are not meted exemplary punishment, bigots and obscurants will continue to rule the street.”
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ