Torture still not a crime in Pakistan

Published: December 16, 2014
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“Article 5 of the Constitution talks about a citizen’s loyalty to the state but it does not mention if the state has to be loyal to the people. It is the people who make up the state,” said Karamat Ali. PHOTO: OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATIONS

“Article 5 of the Constitution talks about a citizen’s loyalty to the state but it does not mention if the state has to be loyal to the people. It is the people who make up the state,” said Karamat Ali. PHOTO: OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATIONS

KARACHI: A deadly attack on the Army Public School on Warsak Road, Peshawar, where around 135 people, including more than 80 students, died and several others were injured, failed to unite politicians sitting at a consultation in Karachi.

Instead of condemning the incident and vowing to do something about terrorism, senators, MNAs and MPAs stayed on the defensive and decided to attack each other’s political parties.  At an event organised by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) and the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) at Regent Plaza, they pointed fingers and blamed each other’s parties for what was going wrong in the country.

Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) senator Dr Abdul Qayyum Soomro was the first to start. “Imran Khan should let go of his ego and end the dharnas for the sake of the country,” he said. “The internally displaced persons are in a bad state and no one is bothered about them.”

This angered PTI’s Khurram Sher Zaman. He said that they would fight those responsible for the attack in Peshawar. “For years the PPP and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, have ruled Pakistan,” he said. “What have you or your party done in the last 67 years for the development of the country?”

This prompted  the deputy speaker of the Sindh Assembly to tell her colleagues that the PPP was not 67 years old.

A flustered Sher Zaman burst out at Shehla Raza: “Madam, this is not the assembly where you can make me stay quiet.”

PPP’s MNA Shahida Rehmani was the next to attack the PTI. Her impassioned speech was interrupted by Piler’s executive director Karamat Ali who asked the politicians to focus on the bill rather than politics.

“Despite having a democratic government in power and a Constitution in place, we have not termed torture a crime,” he said. “Article 5 of the Constitution talks about a citizen’s loyalty to the state but it does not mention if the state has to be loyal to the people. It is the people who make up the state.”

Legal researcher Javeria Younes presented her study on torture and said that no official data was available on torture of cases and several of them went unreported. She added that victims were threatened into remaining silent or face dire consequences. She claimed that every police station in the city was running its own private torture cell.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2014.

 

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