Evidences of Case “Supreme Court of Pakistan”

CASE 42-2018: Supreme Court of Pakistan

 

By Master Yan Maitri-Shi, Prosecutor

 

HONORABLE JURY OF INTERNATIONAL BUDDHIST ETHICS COMMITTEE (IBEC) & BUDDHIST TRIBUNAL ON HUMAN RIGHTS (BTHR)

After Legitimating and Validating Evidences and Charges by Master Maitreya, President and Spiritual Judge of IBEC-BTHR, it is addressed the case against the accused party, Supreme Court of Pakistan. This investigation was initiated from the ISIS Case.

The Charges by which the Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights is accusing Supreme Court of Pakistan are enumerated below:

  • Genocide
  • Ethnic Cleansing
  • Crimes against Humanity
  • Crimes against Peace
  • Crimes against Women
  • Violation of International Human Rights Law
  • False Islamic Law

The procedure established in the Statute of INTERNATIONAL BUDDHIST ETHICS  COMMITTEE & BUDDHIST TRIBUNAL ON HUMAN RIGHTS provides both bodies the ostentation to enjoy independence and liberty from state and national regulation and control, besides having the legality and acting as a Buddhist People in order to assert its customs, traditions, practices, procedures, judgments and rights as well as acting in pursuit of the development of Spirituality, of Buddhist Ethics, and of the defense of International Human Rights. This procedure has the particularity, singularity and distinction of having “Special Jurisdiction of the Tribal Law” and “Universal Jurisdiction of the International Law”, thus having the Character, Juridical validity, Legal Powers, infrastructure, Training and Capability necessary to be Actor, Administrator and Executor of Justice in this realm and exercise, by judging of the Accused by means of an Ethical Judgment whose Purpose is Truth, Reconciliation and Learning.-

Therefore, it is detailed a series of EVIDENCES that support the Charges referred so that the Jury members decide about the possible “Responsibility”, “Innocence” or “Insanity” of the accused. Such evidence come from graphic and audiovisual media that have been gathered, sorted and confirmed in their order and context as Means of Proof in order to know, establish, dictate and determine the Responsibility of the Accused for committing the aforementioned Charges.

 

 

LIST OF EVIDENCES

Evidence: Forced Deportations

Evidence: Arbitrary Detentions

Evidence: Violation of Freedom of thought and religion

Evidence: Violation of Freedom of Expression

Evidence: Violation of the Human Right to Life

Evidence: Violation on Islamic Law

Evidence: Violation of Constitutional Law

Evidence: Violation of Women’s Rights

Evidence: Attacks against human rights defenders

Evidence: Forced Disappearances, Torture and Extrajudicial Executions

Evidence: War Crimes and Extermination

 

Evidence: Forced Deportations

Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights:Case 20-2016: ONU & Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Resolution on Human Rights Watch. Thursday 16 February, 2017. The International Buddhist Ethics Committee & Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights,  Assuming the ethical and juridical principles of Buddhist Law, the International Human Rights Law and fundamental freedoms established by international instruments, such as the Buddhist legal code (vinaya) adopted by the spiritual commune (Sangha) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the international community; Considering that on February 13, 2017 Human Rights Watch issued a report called “Pakistan Coercion, UN Complicity: The Mass Forced Return of Afghan Refugees,” which demonstrated the Complicity and promotion of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with the campaign of Pakistani government abuses and coercion that forcibly displaced around 600,000 Afghans since July 2016, including 365,000 registered refugees, violating their political, economic, cultural and environmental rights, and especially their human right to peace; Aware that on January 21, 2017 the Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights judged the UN and its Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for Crimes against humanity and also for High Crimes against peace, which demonstrates the superior ethics of the Buddhist People and its true mission to save the world; Affirming that the Judgment to UN carried out by the Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights was the result of the analysis of a series of evidences among which was found “UN Complicity in Crimes against Humanity in Asia”, which implies that the report of Human Rights Watch is an indirect endorsement of the ethical judgment of the Buddhist Tribunal; Deeply concerned by testimonies coming from Pakistan, where hundreds of thousands of refugees are systematically and widespreadly receiving abuses of their human rights, such as police threats, extortion, violence, arbitrary detentions, illegal searches, house demolitions, discrimination and denial of education to Afghan children, which is a situation that forces hundreds of thousands of Afghans refugees to return to a war zone from which they had fled and where their lives are surely to be in great danger, being one of the largest forced relocations in history; Reaffirming that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) establishes that deportation or forcible transfer of populations constitutes a crime against humanity; Deploring that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) not only has not publicly condemned this international crime against humanity, but it has promoted it by increasing economic assistance for every Afghan who returns, evidencing clear complicity and promotion of this crime of massive forced transfer of people, even creating a fictional story that these transfers are really voluntary returns; Taking into account that the European Union, an inter-state community which in recent years received the Nobel Peace Prize, has not only created a plan for the massive deportation of immigrants and refugees from Syria, which is a crime against humanity; but also the European Union is responsible for rejecting thousands of Afghan refugees seeking asylum, which violates International Law;  Examining that the UN Complicity with Pakistan’s forced relocations and with the massive deportation of the European Union replicate the illegal and xenophobic discourse of President Trump of the United States of America, causing a historical damage to the instruments of Human Rights; Bearing in mind that xenophobia, aggressive nationalism and apartheid constitute violations of International Law, so that those presidents who promote discrimination and racism should be judged, especially if they are presidents of war superpowers or members of the UN Security Council, because they should be an ethical and humanitarian example for the rest of the international community;  Showing dismay at the fact that this fascist discourse is spreading all over the world, endangering the healthy and adequate existence of humanity; Affirms that the UN should follow the ethical and humanitarian example of the Buddhist People, which is the true defender of World Peace, Social Justice, Free Education and Environmental Health.  Calls on the UN to immediately stop its complicity with Pakistan’s human rights violations against hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees, not only having the duty to protect one million Afghan refugees still residing in Pakistan but also it must protect lives of those 600,000 refugees who have already been illegally expelled. It solemnly states that every refugee has the supreme human right to live in peace and in the absence of violence or war.  Expresses hope that both Pakistan and the European Union cease their conduct of massive deportations of refugees, regaining respect for the international Human Rights instruments, as well as showing solidarity and compassion towards one of the world’s poorest and most oppressed nations. Deplores any governmental measure promoting forced relocations and massive deportations as illegal. Declares that the UN must immediately carry out a process of democratic reform that provides peace and justice, combating corruption, impunity and authoritarianism within this international organization. It calls on all members of the international community to follow the Path of Law and Righteousness by developing the compassionate wisdom as an antidote to the world evils of greed, hatred and deceit. Encourages non-governmental organizations to follow the ethical example of the Buddhist People and to request that the UN cease to commit human rights violations.”

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: “(2017) Refugees and asylum-seekers. The expulsion of Afghan refugees continued, albeit at a far slower rate. According to UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, 59,020 registered Afghan refugees were involuntarily returned to Afghanistan, compared to more than 380,000 in 2016 (the mass deportations triggered by escalating tensions between the Pakistani and Afghan governments). More than 2 million Afghans remained at risk of being forcibly returned as their legal residency status was due to expire at the end of the year.”[1]

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: “The Pakistan government failed to meet its international legal obligation to protect more than 2 million Afghans in the country, including those not registered as refugees, from harassment and other abuses. The number of Afghans repatriating from Pakistan increased in 2016 due to coercive pressure from local governments; at the end of August, about 70,000 registered refugees had been repatriated. The uncertain residency status of Afghan refugees in Pakistan encouraged police harassment, threats, and extortion, particularly in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Statements by senior Pakistani officials in 2016 raised concerns of new government actions to restrict the rights of Afghan refugees in the country.” [2]

Gerry Simpson: “U.N. Refugee Agency Must Break Its Silence on Pakistan. (…) In the second half of last year, 600,000 Afghans in Pakistan, including 365,000 registered refugees, faced a barrage of police abuses and deportation threats and answered that awful question by hurriedly piling their worldly possessions onto trucks and crossing the border. It was a return to nothing in Afghanistan: no homes, no land and no jobs, schools or clinics. Many joined the ranks of Afghanistan’s 1.5 million displaced, driven out of their villages by the country’s spiraling conflict. The exodus amounts to the world’s largest unlawful forced return of refugees in recent years. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has a long history in Pakistan. Between 2002 and the end of 2014, it helped about 3.7million Afghans return voluntarily to their country. During the first half of 2015, when many of the 60,000 registered refugees who returned to Afghanistan clearly did so under pressure, the UNHCR made no public call for an end to the abuses. The UNHCR is a pragmatic agency that often muddles its way through a crisis to avoid offending the countries that host it in order to assist and protect refugees. And there is no doubt that the U.N.’s refugee agency is operating in a tough political environment in Pakistan. But in failing to take a principled and public stand against Pakistan’s clampdown, it has crossed a clear red line that has put the agency on the wrong side of refugee protection history. The UNHCR maintained its public silence as the abuses and resulting departures accelerated in 2016. The agency instead euphemistically said the Afghan refugees were returning “under difficult circumstances” to describe what clearly amounted to an unlawful coerced return. Rather than try to stop returns, the agency facilitated them under significant pressure from Pakistan, doubling its cash grant to $400 for every returning Afghan refugee. This was an astronomical amount of money for the average Afghan family. Many returnees whom I met in Kabul said they had been uncertain what to do but were afraid that, if they did not take the money, they would end up being deported anyway, penniless. The UNHCR’s public silence on the abuses and threats, together with the cash incentive and its failure to provide refugees with timely, full and accurate information about security and conditions inside Afghanistan, meant that it was effectively promoting involuntary refugee return. This is not only contrary to its mandate but made the agency complicit in forced refugee returns. The UNHCR maintains it did no such thing, but actions – and inactions – speak louder than words. And in this case the agency’s silence so embarrassed junior UNHCR staff members in Afghanistan last year that they broke with the official line and told journalists that the returns were “forced” and “not voluntary.” Pakistan has made clear it wants to see hundreds of thousands of more returns in 2017 and is now threatening to deport the remaining 2.5 million Afghans in the country next January if they don’t leave before then. The UNHCR has responded to this renewed threat by planning to resume its cash support in March, though at a reduced rate. In the absence of a commitment from authorities in Pakistan to end all police abuses and stop threatening mass deportations, Afghan refugees will continue to leave Pakistan involuntarily, under pressure. The UNHCR should not play a part in these violations of international law. If it believes giving refugees cash is the best way to help them survive destitution and insecurity back home, it should first recognize publicly that the returns are not voluntary.”[3]

BBC: “Pakistan’s request for all three million Afghan refugees within its borders to leave is causing chaos on its borders and plunging families into uncertainty. Many Afghans have spent all their lives in Pakistan. (…)Back in the late 1970s, the country welcomed Afghan refugees with open arms. Unlike Iran, which confined refugees to camps and prevented them from indulging in politics, Pakistan allowed them to mix with local populations, and encouraged them to link up with Islamist camps that fed resistance to Kabul’s communists. (…) But suspicions struck the Pakistani mind post-9/11, when an anti-Pakistan version of the Taliban began to evolve, with links to these sanctuaries. Since then, the narrative of the Pakistani establishment has gradually turned against the refugees. (…) The decisive push came in December 2015, when Pakistan suddenly set a six-month deadline for the refugees to leave. (…) there has been “increased harassment of refugees by Pakistani police“, and “a hate campaign against the refugees in the Pakistani media since the [December 2014 attack on Peshawar’s] Army Public School.”[4]

 

Evidence: Arbitrary Detentions

Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights:Case 04-2015: ISIS. LEGAL WARNING to the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Dear Supreme Court of Pakistan, as a result of the sentence of death penalty signed in 2010 against sister Asia Bibi, who is the mother of two girls, for blasphemy against Islam, the Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights, on January 23, 2018, points out the fact that the Pakistani law supporting this conviction constitutes an unconstitutional law because it is a Violation of the International Human Rights Law, especially for breaking the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) adopted by the UN and signed by Pakistan, violating the right to life, the right to freedom of religion and the right to freedom of thought and expression. Although the government of Pakistan has the right to maintain an Islamic Law system, however, the country has no right to violate International Law through illegitimate and fundamentalist laws which are totally the same ones as the homicidal system practiced by ISIS. While Asia Bibi was condemned to death penalty after rejecting an attempt of forced conversion to Islam, there are elements to require their immediate release due to violation of due process, but also the Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights states that there are deep elements to declare as unconstitutional and unconventional the shameful Pakistani law that creates the death sentence for blasphemy, being a law that violates human rights and establishes an oppressive system similar to the ideology of ISIS. Accordingly, it is contested that these kinds of laws do nothing but attract and strengthen the ideology of ISIS, whose movement is growing in Pakistan. If the Supreme Court of Pakistan does not want to see the same thing happening in its country such as what ISIS did in Syria and Iraq, then it should annul the death penalty for blasphemy, having the duty to immediately release Asia Bibi and the rest of those imprisoned for this illusory infraction. In case of keeping this kind of medieval, immoral and inhumane laws in Pakistan Crimes against humanity by systematic illegal incarcerations will not only be committed, but will also be kept the ideology from which ISIS was born, enabling this terrorist guerrilla to grow until being able to get political power in Pakistan, access the nuclear bombs that the country possesses and endanger the lives of hundreds of millions of human beings around the world. In conclusion, the Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights appreciates that the Supreme Court of Pakistan has not yet executed Asia Bibi, although it also considers that her imprisonment is totally illegal and violates human rights, so that her immediate release is ordered within the next 5 days, as well as it orders the annulment of the death penalty law for blasphemy suffered by many illegally detained persons. The deadline to notify compliance with this urgent request made by the Buddhist Tribunal on Human Rights will be 5 days. In case of failure to comply with this requirement the Supreme Court of Pakistan will be investigated and brought to trial for possible Crimes against humanity, among other charges.”

Dawn: “” Blasphemy: What you need to know about Asia Bibi’s trial. The family of Asia Bibi is waiting anxiously for the Supreme Court to announce her appeal in a case that has been ongoing for over six years. Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, has been on death row since 2010. She was accused of committing blasphemy in 2009. A trial court had found her guilty of the crime and awarded her the death sentence. The Lahore High Court (LHC) upheld the sentence. In 2011, former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who spoke out in support of Bibi, was gunned down in broad daylight in Islamabad. His assassin Mumtaz Qadri was executed earlier in 2016 after the court found him guilty of murder. The lawyers of Bibi have approached the Supreme Court as a last resort, seeking repeal of her sentence. (…) Asia Bibi was convicted for blasphemy under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code for allegedly defaming Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The offence carries mandatory death penalty under Pakistani law. The allegations against Asia Bibi are that she made three “defamatory and sarcastic” statements about the Prophet (PBUH) on June 14, 2009, during an argument with three Muslim women while the four of them were picking fruit in a field. (…) Asia Bibi also stated that she had “great respect and honour for the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the Holy Quran” and never made the alleged blasphemous remarks. (…) In its judgment in Asia Bibi’s case, the LHC conceded “the defence has not defended its case with the required seriousness…” Yet, despite acknowledging possible violations of the right of a fair trial, particularly the right to an adequate defense, the court went on to uphold Asia Bibi’s conviction and death sentence. (…)  The courts also failed to apply “tazkia-tul-shahood” (inquiry undertaken by the court to establish the credibility of witnesses), without which defendants cannot be convicted or punished in hadh (capital punishment) cases for certain offences under Pakistani law. During the entire course of the proceedings, neither court considered which of the three statements attributed to Asia Bibi were “blasphemous” and why, or what was the “reasonable person” standard in the interpretation of section 295-C to meet the threshold of blasphemy. Additionally, both courts did not consider whether Asia Bibi possessed the requisite criminal intent to commit the crime of blasphemy, despite the Federal Shariat Court’s ruling that blasphemy is an “intentional or reckless wrong”. The prosecution’s failure to prove all elements of the offence, including the requisite intent to defame Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) calls into question the convictions by the trial court and LHC. How does the application of blasphemy laws violate Pakistan’s human rights obligations? The application of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws has been denounced for a variety of reasons. Last year, the Supreme Court of Pakistan held that individuals accused of blasphemy “suffer beyond proportion or repair” in the absence of adequate safeguards against misapplication or misuse of such blasphemy laws. (…) International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) 2015 study on the implementation of blasphemy laws in Pakistan found that more than 80 per cent of convictions by trial courts are overturned on appeal, very often because appellate courts find evidence and complaints fabricated based on personal or political vendettas.  The ICJ further found the following systematic and widespread fair trial violations in the application of the blasphemy laws, which also apply in Asia Bibi’s case: Intimidation and harassment of judges and lawyers that impede on the independence of the judiciary and the right to a defense; Demonstrable bias and prejudice against defendants by judges during the course of blasphemy proceedings and in judgments; Violations of the right to effective assistance of counsel; Rejection of bail and prolonged pretrial detention; Incompetent investigation and prosecution that do not meet due diligence requirements under the law; The prosecution and detention of people living with mental disabilities; Inhumane conditions of detention and imprisonment, including prolonged solitary confinement; and Vaguely defined offences that undermine the rule of law because they leave the door open to selective prosecution and interpretation. The ICJ opposes the criminalisation of the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and religion or belief in Pakistan in the shape of the blasphemy laws and considers them a flagrant violation of Pakistan’s international human rights obligations, including its obligations to respect the rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; freedom of expression; and equal treatment before the law. Furthermore, mandatory death sentence — including under 295-C of the Penal Code — violates Pakistan’s obligations to respect the rights to life, to a fair trial, and to prohibit torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, said ICJ.”[5]

Seattle Times: “Pakistan’s supreme court exonerated a man convicted of blasphemy after he served nine years of a life sentence in prison. A two-judge panel of the court ruled on Friday that Mohammad Mansha was falsely accused, citing lack of evidence. According to court records, Mansha, 58, was arrested in September 2008 after the imam of a mosque in the Bahawalnagar district in Punjab province told authorities that Mansha had desecrated a copy of the Quran. A Punjab judge convicted Mansha of blasphemy and sent him to life in prison in 2009. His conviction was upheld in 2014 and the supreme court took up the case the same year. Mansha’s defense attorney, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, said his client was arrested on a complaint from a man who was suffering from hearing and speech impairments. He said evidence from such a witness has no legal value under the Evidence Act. Mansha’s attorney said that following the complaint, his client was presented before a village council where he was badly beaten then handed over to police. The police registered the case under the country’s harsh blasphemy law based on the complaint of the Imam Hafiz Muhammad Munir. The hearing and speech impaired Akhtar Mohammad became the star witness. Abdul Waheed, the prosecutor in the case, said that there was no “scientific evidence” against Mansha and that the police investigation was “faulty” which led to his acquittal.  Waheed said Mansha, a poor villager, could not hire a lawyer so the court appointed him one. Rights groups say Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy law is often exploited to settle personal scores. Blasphemy is a very sensitive issue in Pakistan’s conservative society. In 2011, a liberal governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was assassinated by his official guard because he spoke in support of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, languishing in a jail after being convicted in a blasphemy case. Taseer said at the time that the blasphemy law was being exploited.  Zia Awan, head of Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Assistance, lauded the supreme court’s verdict in Mansha’s case but said the court should have compensated him for his years behind bars on “false” charges. Awan added that it is time for the parliament to “carefully look into” the country’s blasphemy law and finds the means to curb its misuse or exploitation.”[6]

The Guardian: “Pakistan supreme court warns against false blasphemy accusations. Government urged to ensure charges are never ‘trumped up’ as Islamic republic’s top court gives further succour to liberals on controversial issue. Pakistan’s supreme court has called on the country’s politicians to ensure that hundreds of people facing imprisonment and even execution under controversial blasphemy laws have not been falsely charged, often by enemies wanting to settle personal scores. Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan, an Islamic republic, with even unproven allegations provoking mob lynchings and violence. Critics, including European governments, claim the laws are misused, with hundreds languishing in jails under false charges that could see them face fines, life imprisonment or hanging. On Tuesday, the supreme court issued a detailed judgment warning that in Islam a false accusation can be as serious as the blasphemy itself. The judgment came weeks after it upheld the death sentence for Mumtaz Qadri, a former bodyguard who was feted by Islamists after he gunned down a politician who had been calling for blasphemy law reform. Moderates hailed the Qadri ruling as a blow against religious extremism, and on Tuesday the supreme court appeared to take another step in that direction. Blasphemy is “abhorrent and immoral”, the judgment said, “but at the same time a false allegation regarding commission of such an offence is equally detestable besides being culpable.” “It is, therefore, for the State of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to ensure that no innocent person is compelled or constrained to face an investigation or a trial on the basis of false or trumped-up allegations regarding commission of such an offence,” the ruling continued. (…)  In its judgment onTuesday, the court also said that calls for blasphemy law reform “ought not to be mistaken as a call for doing away with that law”. Instead they should be seen as calls for introducing “adequate safeguards” against “malicious application” of the law. On Wednesday, 500 activists from the Islamist groups Jamiat Ulema e Pakistan (JUP) and Jamaat Ahle Sunnat held a rally in the north-western city of Peshawar to denounce the court’s Qadri verdict. In a speech inciting vigilantism, cleric Mufti Meraj-ud-Din, of the JUP, said that if Qadri is executed those responsible should also be put to death.”[7]

KATIE MANSFIELD: (May 6, 2017) “Asia Bibi, who has been on death row since 2010, was accused of making derogatory comments about the Prophet Mohammed during an argument with a Muslim woman over a glass of water. (…) If the Supreme Court upholds Mrs Bibi’s conviction her only chance at survival is to appeal to Pakistan’s president for clemency. (…) The mother of five, also known as Aasiya Noreen, will become the first woman in Pakistan to be lawfully executed for blasphemy if the death penalty is carried out.  More than 600,000 people have signed a petition called for Mrs Bibi to be released.  Her hearing has been delayed at least seven times in the last two years.”[8]

World Watch Monitor: “A Muslim cleric in Pakistan has renewed calls for the hanging of Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who has spent seven years on death row, having been convicted of committing blasphemy. Mufti Muhammad Haneef Qureshi said the State’s failure to punish Bibi’s alleged blasphemy caused the death last week of Mashal Khan, 23, who was reportedly “stripped, beaten, shot and thrown from the second floor” of a university building, for allegedly posting “blasphemous” content on Facebook. “If sinners, declared blasphemous by the courts, were not granted extensions [to their stay of execution], students would not act this way [by killing others],” Qureshi said. He added that similar incidents were likely to occur “as long as people feel insulted in their religious sentiments”. In 2016 about 150 Muslim clerics (muftis) from the radical Islamist group, Sunni Tehreek, issued a statement demanding the hanging of Asia Bibi and other prisoners accused of blasphemy. Bibi’s case lies with the Supreme Court, with no date set for a final hearing. Khan’s killing also led to renewed calls for reforms of Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws; the National Assembly condemned the lynching and called for safeguards to prevent further killings in the name of blasphemy.”[9]

DAWN: “An estimated number of 1,274 people have been charged under the stringent blasphemy laws of Pakistan between 1986, from when they were included in the Constitution by General Zia ul Haq, until 2010. (…) 1990: Tahir Iqbal, a Christian convert from Islam and resident of Lahore, was accused of abusing Prophet Mohammad at the time of Azaan and imparting anti-Islamic education to children he tutored. Iqbal was an engineer with the Pakistan Air Force before being paralysed and used a wheelchair. He lived near a mosque in Lahore and his change in religious affiliation had annoyed many. So much, that the local cleric accused him of abusing the Holy Prophet during azaan. The case registered against him accused him of abusing the Holy Prophet, imparting anti-Islamic education to children who came to him for tuition and defiling the Holy Quran by underlining it with a green marker. Iqbal was denied bail due to a misinterpretation of the PPC by a sessions court judge on the basis of his conversion and “since conversion from Islam into Christianity is itself a cognizable offence involving serious implications, hence I do not consider the petitioner entitled to the concession of bail at this stage.”  However, the PPC does not recognise conversion as a recognisable offence. Even though his health condition had been certified by a medical officer, it did not have any affect on the court’s decision and he died in jail after allegedly being poisoned in July 1992. (…)  Bantu Masih, 80, and Mukhtar Masih, 50, were arrested on the allegation of committing blasphemy. Bantu was stabbed eight times at a Lahore police station and at the hospital, the police reportedly convinced him not to file a case against his attacker in order to escape blasphemy charges. However, he succumbed to his injuries shortly. Mukhtar was tortured to death in police custody. (…) 1996: Ayub Masih, a brick layer, was arrested when his neighbours accused him of propagating Christianity and inviting people to read Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses”. A Muslim neighbour filed the charge against him saying that during a private conversation, Masih had said Christianity was better than Islam and praised Rushdie’s novel. According to Masih, he was falsely accused so his land could be taken away. In 1997, the complainant shot at Masih outside a court in Sahiwal but no harm was done. In 1998, Masih was sentenced to death but in April his sentencing was suspended after the suicide of Bishop John Joseph. Joseph committed suicide to protest against Masih’s sentence. In 1999, he was attacked in jail by four other people sentenced to death but no action was taken against the attackers. In 2002, Masih was acquitted after his lawyer argued that the charge was based on verbal testimony with no supporting evidence. (…) 2002: A 55-year-old Muslim cleric, Muhammad Yousuf Ali, was allegedly shot dead by a member of Sipah-i-Sahaba in Lahore prison after being accused of committing blasphemy. Ali had been vocal in condemning religious violence and the case against him was filed by a militant group who disagreed with his views. He had been sentenced to death in August 2000. In July of the same year, additional sessions judge in Lahore imposed death penalty and a fine of Rs500, 000 on Anwar Kenneth, a former officer of the Fisheries Department, in a blasphemy case. He was found distributing a brochure titled Gospel of Jesus and claimed to be a prophet. Reports suggest that he was mentally unwell. 2003: Samuel Masih, a Christian, was arrested for allegedly defiling a mosque by spitting on its wall. While in police custody Masih contracted tuberculosis and was sent to Gulab Devi Chest Hospital for treatment. He was killed by a police officer, Faryad Ali, who was one of the guards escorting him. He used a hammer to kill him in the presence of other officers and claimed that it was his duty as a Muslim to kill Masih. According to Masih’s family, they were informed of the death two days after it happened. (…) 2005: In August 2005, an anti-terrorist court found Younus Sheikh guilty of disrespecting the Quran after he wrote a book ‘Shaitan Maulvi’ which mentioned that the concept of stoning to death after committing adultery does not exist in Islam. The judge imposed a fine of Rs 100, 000 rupees and sentenced him to lifetime imprisonment. In November, Pervez Aslam Chaudhry — a lawyer known for defending alleged blasphemers — was allegedly charged with flinging a matchstick on an Islamic school and was assaulted outside the Lahore High Court. He had previously been threatened and assaulted also. 2006: Qamar David was arrested after some Muslims claimed that they received blasphemous text messages from him. He was given a life imprisonment sentence in 2010 and passed away in jail in 2011 due to a cardiac arrest according to reports. (…) Muhammad Imran was arrested from Faisalabad for allegedly burning the Holy Quran. He was tortured for three days and later kept in solitary confinement. (…) 2009: Punjab police arrested a labourer along with four students belonging to Ahmaddiya community. They were accused of writing prophet’s name on walls a Sunni mosque’s washroom. (…) Following the alleged desecration, an angry mob torched 75 houses owned by Christians. At least seven Christians were torched alive during the riots. (…)2010: In July, the Lahore High Court ordered the release of 60-year-old Zaibun Nisa, a woman who was jailed in 1996 on a charge of blasphemy on a complaint that the Quran had been defiled because of the lack of evidence. (…)2012: A mentally unstable man was torched alive for alleged blasphemy near Bahawalpur in July. The mob took the man from a police station where he was under custody on blasphemy charges after burning pages from the Quran. (…)  A 35-year-old man detained in a lock-up in a Quran desecration case was beaten to death and his body was torched by a lynch mob who stormed the Rajo Deero police station. Officials said over 1,000 people from Sita village and its surroundings attacked the police station at 8am to take out from the lock-up the man who had been handed over to the police some hours earlier by Memon Masjid area residents while accusing him of setting fire to the Quran.”[10]

 

Evidence: Violation of Freedom of thought and religion

FRANCES MARTEL: “The U.S. State Department announced Thursday that it would add Pakistan—and ten other countries—to its Special Watch List for severe religious freedom violations, citing the egregious abuse of Christians, Hindus, Ahmadi Muslims, and other minorities in the country.The move follows President Donald Trump’s announcement on Twitter that the United States would begin cutting off military aid to Pakistan in response to that government’s inaction in the face of multiple terrorist organizations establishing save havens within its borders. The Pakistani government has denied that it has not endeavored sufficiently to fight terrorism. The State Department has the power to designate nations of concern and place them on its Special Watch List as per the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. In a statement Thursday, the agency announced that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan “Countries of Particular Concern” for religious freedom. Pakistan was placed on the Special Watch List for “severe violations,” suggesting evidence that religious minorities are significantly more imperiled in that country, (…). Pakistan is officially an Islamic republic whose constitution requires all laws to be in conformity with the Sharia, or Islamic law. The nation’s penal code prohibits Ahmadi Muslims from identifying as Muslim and using Islamic greetings. It also bans the “defiling” of the Quran and words that can be interpreted as “blasphemy” against Islam. It proscribes the death penalty for certain violations of “blasphemy,” including personally insulting Muhammad. According to Under Caesar’s Sword, a religious freedom project by the University of Notre Dame, Christians suffer tremendously both at the hands of these discriminatory laws and at the hands of violent mobs, which regularly congregate to attack and kill Christians accused of blasphemy. As most Christians come from modest backgrounds and lower castes, taking jobs like running kilns, cleaning sewers, and sweeping, they also face class discrimination. The British Pakistani Christian Association (BCPA), a group that advocates for Christian rights and chronicles abuses, applauded that State Department’s measure and the rescinding of aid to the country, urging the United Kingdom to consider similar measures. “In recognising Pakistan on the US Special Watch List for religious violations, the Trump Administration have brought great relief to hundreds of Pakistani Christian NGO’s who have been challenging for persecution to be recognised by western nations since its inception,” Wilson Chowdhry, the chairman of the BPCA, said in a statement. “Christians in Pakistan are caught in the bondage of slavery, many of their young women are raped and forced into Islamic marriage, they are bullied and murdered by fellow school children,” he noted. “They are burned alive in the streets, the majority serve as cleaners or sweepers or sewage workers and they are held hostage to bias laws such as the draconian blasphemy laws.” The BCPA has documented a large number of crimes against Christians in Pakistan in recent memory. In August, a 16-year-old boy was arrested for blasphemy after being severely beaten by Muslims in public. The boy, Asif Stephen, was arrested after a witness called the police urging them to stop the beating. Another Pakistani teen, Sharoon Masih, was beaten to death in September after being accused of drinking water from a water cooler used by Muslim boys. His “crime” resembles the facts of the case against Asia Bibi, perhaps the most famous victim of Pakistan’s blasphemy law, who was sentenced to death for allegedly disparaging Muslims after being accused of drinking water from a “Muslim” well.”[11]

European Greens: “Resolution accepted at the 12th EGP Council, Barcelona, Spain, March 19-21, 2010. (…) EGP urges European Parliament and European Commission to actively pursue a peaceful resolution for the abolishment of the Anti- Ahmadiyya Ordinance and the Blasphemy law. (…) Therefore, the civil government and the civil society in Pakistan have to be strengthened within by changing discriminatory laws in the Pakistani constitution. (…) 1986 the Blasphemy law was introduced by the dictator. This law which was meant against Ahmadis is also used today specifically against Christian minorities and critical citizens who dare to raise their voice against injustice. Anyone who defies the Holy Quran will be punished with life imprisonment (Art. 295B). Anyone who uses derogatory remarks against the Holy Prophet Muhammad will be sentenced to death (Art. 295C). The changes in legislation relating to religious offences have contributed to an atmosphere of religious intolerance in Pakistan in which violence against members of religious minorities has significantly increased. Often personal conflicts result in a religious accusation with enormous consequences for the accused. Many a time Ahmadis and Christians are killed for no crime and the State is ignoring the criminal offence. In the Pakistani media Ahmadis are declared openly as ‘Wajibul Qatl’ that is that they ought to be killed. EGP RESOLUTION: In the spirit of the principles of United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and international law, The EGP expresses: its deep concern about the systematic violation of the rule of law and basic human and democratic rights in Pakistan through Ordinance XX and the Blasphemy law.  The European Green Party urges the European Parliament and the European Commission: 1.To clearly condemn the violation of human rights and fundamental liberties in Pakistan. 2.To urge the State of Pakistan to abolish Ordinance XX and the Blasphemy law. 3. To take, as a matter of the greatest urgency, all the measures necessary to immediately stop the killing of religious minorities in Pakistan.”[12]

San Francisco Chronicle: (May 11, 2017) “The NGO “Human Rights Commission of Pakistan” (HRCP) has released a report on the state of human rights in the country for the year of 2016. The document denounced the discrimination suffered by minorities in the country, including the Christian and Hindu communities, with little protection from the government. The report criticized the violations to the right to freedom of speech – with persecution, unlawful detention, and killing of journalists and bloggers – the enforcement of the death penalty, and the frequent accusations of blasphemy which foment mob violence. HRCP’s Chairwoman Asma Jahangir condemned the widespread impunity for those who commit murder “in the name of religion” in Pakistan. (…)  The report said fewer people died in terror attacks last year, but that Pakistan’s judges and lawyers were under increasing threat from targeted killings. It said minorities continued to suffer discrimination and attacks from religious extremists, with little state protection. It noted that Pakistan has one of the world’s lowest literacy rates. The report also criticized the use of a controversial blasphemy law by military and civilian authorities to intimidate critics. Blasphemy carries the death penalty for anyone convicted of insulting Islam. Earlier this year, a student in Pakistan’s conservative northwest was attacked and killed by a stick-wielding mob who accused him of blasphemy. There was no evidence of blasphemy, and his death generated widespread protests. “People have been given impunity if they kill in the name of religion, if they cheat in the name of religion, if they lie in the name of religion . . . the state has to end this,” said Asma Jahangir, the commission’s chairman. “It is doing no service to our religion.”  (…) the mere accusation is enough to ignite mob violence and lynchings in the deeply conservative country. Freedom of speech also took a hit last year with threats of blasphemy charges levelled against those who challenged state authority, said the report. Six journalists and a blogger were killed last year. There has been a spike in the level of “intimidation of the media and increased levels of self-censorship by the media,” it said. “The year 2016 saw a disturbing rise in assaults on media houses, TV channel and newspaper offices as well as press clubs by militant, religious and political groups,” the report said. Jahangir assailed Pakistan’s powerful intelligence and security agencies for unlawfully detaining people, including five bloggers who were held for several weeks before being freed earlier this year. The report also criticized a new cyber law that allows the authorities to access a person’s online accounts without a warrant. It also said attacks against minorities have taken aim at professionals, particularly those belonging to the Ahmadi sect, a messianic faith which is reviled by mainstream Muslims, who believe there is no other prophet than Muhammad. Ahmadis have been fiercely persecuted in Pakistan by hard-line groups, and in the early 1970s Pakistan changed its constitution to declare them non-Muslims. “The country saw several incidents of violence against Christians. The Hindu community complained of land grabbing, attacks, kidnapping, forced conversions, temple desecrations, rape, and murder,” said the report. Islamic militants also attacked Muslim shrines and mosques. “In more than 30 attacks during the year, militants targeted different Muslim sects — mainly Sunni, Shiite, including Hazaras, and Bohra — and worship places and shrines, killing about 110 people and injuring 162 others,” the report said.”[13]

Daily Dawn: “A number of non-governmental and civil society organisations have formed an alliance to work for the protection of religious minorities’ rights and make efforts towards legislation against forced conversation, besides promoting right to expression and association. A meeting in this regard was held in a local hotel on Tuesday where the South Asia Partnership-Pakistan (SAP-P) and the Right of Expression, Association and Thoughts (REAT) Networks announced the formation of the alliance. It was attended by other components of the alliance including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Sindh Hari Porihat Council, Village Development Organisation, Village Community Development Organisation, Bhandar Hari Sangat, Community Development Foundation, Church World Services, Bhitshah Deceleration Coordination Council, Sindh Development Society, Mehergarh Society, National Commission for Justice and Peace.  Shahnaz Sheedi of SAP said that the alliance of the civil society organistaions would play a leading role in promoting and protecting human rights, especially of the religious minority in Sindh and highlight the relevant issues. (…) Gul Muneer Walhari told the audience that extremism was destroying the true spirit and essence of religions which summoned creation of the alliance that could help promote communal harmony and peace as well as work towards protection of fundamental rights of every citizen following any religion. (…)  Punhal Sario of the Sindh Hari Porihiat Council said that all government institutions were violating rights of minorities, and called for introducing laws to protect their rights.”[14]

The News: “Pakistan needs to overhaul laws to ban forced conversions which are leading to rape or other abuse against hundreds of non-Muslim girls each year, an advocacy group said Wednesday. The Movement for Solidarity and Peace, which campaigns against religious violence in Pakistan, said that forced conversions generally involve the abductions of girls or young women who are then converted to Islam and married. The girls are often raped or beaten and, when the family complains to police, the abductor responds that the girl has willingly converted, the group said in a report. While exact figures are unverifiable, an estimated 100 to 700 Christian girls and at least 300 Hindu girls undergo such conversions in the overwhelmingly Muslim nation each year, the group said. “These trends threaten religious freedom and public safety for all people in Pakistan,” the group´s director of advocacy, Amber Jamil, told a briefing at the US Congress. The group called for Pakistan´s judiciary to provide a legal definition for forced conversions in the penal code. While abductors would violate multiple laws, Pakistan generally considers non-Muslim marriages invalid if one spouse later converts to Islam, the study said. The group also called for more funding for the government to enforce laws and for a study to look more closely at the frequency of forced conversions across Pakistan.”[15]

DAWN: “Many observers contend that the country’s legal code is largely concerned with crime, national security and domestic tranquillity, and less with the protection of individual rights. We often ignore abuses against children and religious minorities. Some institutions and Muslim groups have persecuted non-Muslims and abused the blasphemy law. Violence in Pakistan and the extremist conflict with the government have heightened humanitarian problems in the country. On July 28, 1994, Amnesty International urged Pakistan’s prime minister Benazir Bhutto to change the law because it was being used to terrorise religious minorities. However, she modified the laws to make them moderate. Her changes were reversed by the Nawaz Sharif administration, which was backed by religious/political parties. In Pakistan, 1.5 per cent of the population is Christian. Hindus in Pakistan have declined from 23 per cent of the total population in 1947 to less than two per cent today. Hindus are being hounded and humiliated to force them to leave Pakistan.  Gender discrimination against women and harassment at workplaces is common in almost every sector. Women have to face a series of physical and verbal abuses every single day on their way from their home to their workplace and back. Violence against women is a most urgent item of concern. (…) The misinterpretation of religion and outdated, biased tribal and feudal customs should be abolished. Furthermore, the social acceptance of many of these problems hinders their eradication. One prominent example is honour killings, known as karo-kari in Sindhi. (…) Today we have an urgent need to eradicate human rights violations for the sovereignty and prosperity of Pakistan.”[16]

FIDH: “FIDH and HRCP remain concerned regarding the rapid deterioration of Pakistan’s human rights situation and the lack of progress on strengthening the rule of law in the country. Background: The general election slated to take place on May 11th will mark the first democratic transition between two elected civilian governments in Pakistan. Following the March 17th dissolution of the National Assembly under article 52 of the Constitution, the Election Commission of Pakistan appointed former judge Mir Hazar Khan Khoso as caretaker prime minister. FIDH and HRCP call on all parties concerned to adopt a clear stand on the following issues: 1. Maintain democratic governance and rule of law FIDH and HRCP feel concerned at the surge in religiosity during the current electoral process and unwarranted invocation of quasi-religious concepts to disqualify a particular category of candidates. Fears have been expressed in well-informed circles that this could be the harbinger of Pakistan’s shift towards arbitrary rule and subversion of rule of the law. The Government of Pakistan and Pakistani political parties should: − Develop and respect a national consensus on the essentials of a democratic dispensation that must never be compromised. − Allow women across the country to run in and vote during the elections free of fear and intimidation; and implement mechanisms to curb the level of political violence which since 2011 has claimed hundreds of victims in Karachi alone. 2. Protect minorities, promote tolerance. The last few years have been characterized by a spike in incidents of violence and intolerance against ethnic and religious minorities across Pakistan. This trend aligned with the failure on the part of authorities to protect vulnerable groups. Minorities, especially Hindus and Christians, have been subjected to forced conversions and socio-economic discrimination. (…) Authorities have failed to efficiently crack down on Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the militant group that has openly claimed responsibility for attacking this persecuted community. Violence against other Muslim minorities and non-Muslims has been persistent. Some of the most striking incidents include the attacks on two Ahmadi mosques on May 28th, 2010, which claimed 86 lives, the desecration of Ahmadi graves in Lahore in 2012, and the recent looting of more than 200 homes at the Christian Joseph Colony in Lahore on March 9th, 2013. In addition, discriminatory laws that strongly contribute to the persecution of minorities, have not been revised, in particular Sections 298-B and 298-C of the 1984 ordinance, which declare it illegal for Ahmadis to act or look like Muslims, to practice or propagate their faith, and to call their place of worship a mosque. (…) The Government of Pakistan should: − Ensure the effective investigation and prosecution of cases of sectarian violence. − Enact legislation ensuring freedom of religion and belief for all religious groups and repeal or thoroughly reform the so-called blasphemy law. − Reinvigorate genuine efforts to build a tolerant and cohesive society. 3. End impunity and promote accountability.” [17]

BBC: “Pakistan’s blasphemy laws carry a potential death sentence for anyone who insults Islam. Critics say they have been used to persecute minority faiths and unfairly target minorities. (…) The law enacted by the British made it a crime to disturb a religious assembly, trespass on burial grounds, insult religious beliefs or intentionally destroy or defile a place or an object of worship. The maximum punishment under these laws ranges from one year to 10 years in jail, with or without a fine. During the 1980s the blasphemy laws were created and expanded in several instalments. In 1980, making derogatory remarks against Islamic personages was made an offence, carrying a maximum punishment of three years in jail. In 1982, another clause prescribed life imprisonment for “wilful” desecration of the Koran, the Muslim holy book. In 1986, a separate clause was inserted to punish blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad and the penalty recommended was “death, or imprisonment for life”, in that order. Who is affected by the laws? The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) – a voluntary organisation – has been documenting blasphemy cases for decades. It says that Muslims constitute the majority of those booked under these laws, closely followed by the Ahmadi community. Data provided by National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) shows a total of 633 Muslims, 494 Ahmedis, 187 Christians and 21 Hindus have been accused under various clauses of the blasphemy law since 1987.(…) Critics say the fact that minorities figure so prominently in the cases shows how the laws are unfairly applied. Often the laws are used to settle personal scores and have little or nothing to do with religion. (…) A large majority of Pakistani people support the idea that blasphemers should be punished, but there is little understanding of what the religious scripture says as opposed to how the modern-day law is codified. Many believe the law, as codified by the military regime of General Zia-ul Haq back in the 1980s, is in fact straight out of the Koran and therefore is not man-made.”[18]

Asad Hashim: “Living in fear under Pakistan’s blasphemy law. In Pakistan, 17 people are on death row for blasphemy, and dozens more have been extrajudicially murdered.  Human rights lawyer Rashid Rehman was murdered for defending a university lecturer accused of blasphemy. Lahore, Pakistan – Rashid Rehman, a 53-year-old lawyer, was known throughout the south of Pakistan’s Punjab province as a staunch defender of human rights, representing peasants, workers, women and members of religious minorities in cases against their alleged oppressors for over 20 years. (…) Late on May 7, Rehman was shot and killed in his Multan office by unidentified assailants. His crime? Defending Junaid Hafeez, a university lecturer who had been accused of committing blasphemy by hardline student groups in March last year. (…)  Zaman Khan, an official at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, of which Rehman was the Multan co-ordinator, told Al Jazeera. Rehman, who had earlier been threatened in open court by the complainants in the case, has become the latest person to be extrajudicially murdered in a case related to Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws, which often rile public sentiment. Since 1990, at least 60 people have been killed outside the Pakistani justice system in cases relating to blasphemy, according to the Islamabad-based Centre Research and Security Studies (CRSS). The list includes lawyers, alleged blasphemers and even politicians calling for amendments to the law. That last category includes former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and former Federal Minister Shahbaz Bhatti. Judges and lawyers under threat.  Critics say the laws, at least one section of which carries a mandatory death penalty, create an atmosphere of religious intolerance. “While purporting to protect Islam and the religious sensitivities of the Muslim majority, Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have in fact fostered a climate of religiously motivated violence, and are used indiscriminately against both Muslims and non-Muslims,” said Jan Wetzel, an Amnesty International researcher. “They violate the basic human rights of freedom of religion and thought. These laws are often used to make unfounded malicious accusations to settle personal scores in land and business disputes [and] are also arbitrarily enforced by the police and judiciary.” While the core of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws date back to 1860, during British rule, military ruler Zia-ul-Haq made a raft of changes in the late 1970s and 1980s. As a result, while there were only seven blasphemy cases lodged from 1851-1947, there were 327 such cases from 1977-2012, according to the CRSS. Currently, there are at least 17 people convicted of blasphemy on death row in Pakistan, with another 19 serving life sentences. The issue runs deeper than the volume of cases, however. Many lawyers told Al Jazeera that because blasphemy cases often inflame public sentiment, they are seldom dealt with fairly by the courts. “The main issue that you face is a general mindset within the court, especially after Salman Taseer’s murder, that it’s a matter that has become so sensitive that nobody really wants to touch it,” said Muhammad Ali, a Lahore-based lawyer who frequently deals with blasphemy cases. Ali said the burden of proof in blasphemy cases was low and that despite the fact that it was difficult to prove blasphemy allegations, lower court judges – often under threat themselves – felt pressure to convict. “If someone commits murder, you know there is a body. You see a body. You know by looking at it that … there was some wrong done. With blasphemy, there is no real proof needed. It’s clearly his word against yours, and based on that little thing you are killing someone. The burden to prove is so easy and open. Especially mentally ill people who have been accused, they cannot defend themselves. It’s too easy to prove someone to be a blasphemer,” he said. That’s an assessment with which Fatima Butt, a lawyer currently representing several people either alleged to have committed blasphemy or convicted of having done so, agrees. She said, however, that the fact that blasphemy cases often gain traction in the public sphere is pushing judges towards convicting the defendants. “There are two kinds of judges in this blasphemy field. [There are] those who genuinely have their hands tied behind their backs, because there is a threat to their lives. But there’s a fair amount of lawyers, prosecutors and judges who are making a name for themselves by … sentencing blasphemy convicts,” she told Al Jazeera. One of Butt’s clients is Muhammad Asghar, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who was convicted of having committed blasphemy by a Rawalpindi court in January, and now faces the gallows. Butt listed a litany of irregularities in Asghar’s case, from the constitution of a medical board to certify his sanity in the presence of a mob calling for him to be publically lynched, to an adversarial judge who, at one point, kicked Asghar’s legal team out of the court. “We were forcibly kicked out of court. Our client was screaming that he did not agree to this, that [the state-appointed counsel] was not his attorney,” Butt said. (…) In September 2013 the Council of Islamic Ideology, a constitutional body that advises parliament on the Islamic aspects of laws, recommended against any amendment to the blasphemy laws. ‘A tool to settle scores’. Butt, like Rashid Rehman in Multan, has faced death threats throughout her representation of Asghar. She said that when it came to appeals, she was often unable to find high court judges who were willing to hear the case, due to its sensitive nature. This is a common problem, lawyers in the field say, and one that other high-profile blasphemy case convicts are also facing. That unwillingness to be associated with the case does not seem to extend to the other side. (…) One lawyer said that the threat of lynching for those accused of blasphemy, whether they are in or out of jail, “is very real”. Lawyers also said that blasphemy laws are often used as a mask for other disputes. In Asghar’s case, for example, the complainant who accused him of blasphemy was also engaged in a property dispute with him. “This has become a tool to settle personal scores. You will not see any genuineness in any of these cases,” said Khan, the HRCP official. Threat of ‘vigilante justice’. International law experts, meanwhile, including those at the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee (UNHRC), say blasphemy laws are incompatible with human rights commitments. “Prohibitions of displays of lack of respect for a religion or other belief system, including blasphemy laws, are incompatible with the [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)],” the UNHRC has said.  “Pakistan’s laws and practice are particularly egregious [with regards to blasphemy], with its constantly-abused law penalising blasphemous acts with the death penalty or life in prison. In addition to state enforcement, mobs feel enabled, under the cover of this law, to mete out vigilante justice against individuals deemed to have committed blasphemy,” noted the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom in its annual report this year. Despite those commitments, however, the blasphemy cases in Pakistan continue to pile up, often for seemingly innocuous incidents.  The CRSS has documented cases in which blasphemy cases have been lodged due to the design of an Ahmadi mosque, the throwing away of a visiting card in a dust bin, a Christian pastor quoting the Holy Quran, the naming of a child and even spelling errors. In the latest example, Pakistani police on May 12 lodged a blasphemy case against 68 lawyers protesting against the allegedly illegal detention by police of a colleague. Their crime?  Raising slogans against the local police chief, Umar Daraz. Activists from a banned Sunni Muslim sectarian group who lodged the case said the slogans hurt their religious sentiments, because “Umar” is also the name of a revered follower of the Prophet Muhammad. And for those who protect the rights of alleged blasphemers, there appears to be no-one to protect them.”[19]

The Economist: “Pakistan’s blasphemy laws legitimise intolerance. THE killing and incarceration of people on flimsy accusations of insulting Islam has long shamed Pakistan. Hundreds, often members of religious minorities, have been ensnared by blasphemy laws that leave victims with little chance of defending themselves against malicious claims. Cowed judges are unwilling to examine evidence for fear of profanities being repeated in their courtrooms. Outside the courts, mobs can be quickly incited to acts of murder by fire-breathing mullahs. Accusations of blasphemy soar: just one in 2011; over 100 in 2014. More than half of the 62 people murdered in the wake of blasphemy allegations since 1990 were killed in the past five years, according to figures collated by a Pakistani human-rights group that fears even to be identified. “Blasphemy” can now include spelling errors by children or throwing away a visiting-card bearing the name “Muhammad”. On November 25th a judge in Gilgit-Baltistan sentenced the owner of Geo, Pakistan’s biggest private television channel, to 26 years in jail for broadcasting a popular Sufi song about the prophet during a light-entertainment show. (…) The law encourages depraved vigilante attacks. In the latest, a pregnant Christian woman was beaten to death by an enraged mob. Liberal Pakistanis blame the country’s blasphemy craze on Zia ul-Haq, an Islamist dictator who died in a plane crash in 1988. He hardened British-era blasphemy laws. Derogatory remarks about the prophet Muhammad became a capital offence. But it was his “secular” predecessor, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who amended the constitution to declare members of the Ahmedi minority non-Muslims even though they consider themselves such. Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, once served as the defence lawyer for a carpenter who had murdered the publisher of a book said to be blasphemous. No politician has been prepared to confront blasphemy since Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, was killed by one of his own bodyguards in 2011. He had sparked outrage by calling for mercy for a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who had fallen foul of what he called a “black law”. Blasphemy cases are often thrown out by higher courts, but it can take years, during which time the accused is at great risk. On November 24th Ms Bibi filed an appeal with the Supreme Court. The police are also prey to the radicalising forces that are eating away at Pakistan. In November a man arrested for alleged blasphemy was killed by an axe-wielding policeman. The legal profession is also tainted. Lawyers greeted Taseer’s assassin at court with a shower of rose petals. It takes considerable bravery to defend someone accused of blasphemy. In May a lawyer, Rashid Rehman, was shot dead in the city of Multan for representing a man who was accused of insulting the prophet. The country’s clerics are united in defending the existing laws. The most vociferous opponents of reform are not the Saudi-style extremists empowered during the Zia era, but Barelvis, a school of Islam that some once looked to as a moderate bulwark against extremism. Unsurprisingly, many conclude they can cry blasphemy with impunity. In poor villages and urban slums countless vendettas can be settled in a blasphemy allegation. Almost two years after mobs burned down 100 Christian homes in Lahore the only person behind bars is the man whose alleged blasphemy triggered the riots.”[20]

The Christian Post: “A Pakistani Court has acquitted a Muslim cleric accused of framing a mentally-challenged Christian girl of violating the country’s blasphemy laws. Cleric, Khalid Jadoon, was freed after six of eight eyewitnesses, who had testified to seeing him plant evidence on the girl, suddenly retracted their statements. Last August, teenager Rimsha Masih was arrested for breaking Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, after she was accused of burning pages of the Quran. As international criticism grew over her arrest, evidence mounted that Jadoon had deliberately inserted pages of the Quran into the fire himself so that he could accuse the Christian girl of blasphemy and use the charge as a pretext to drive out Christians from the area. Masih was ultimately acquitted of blasphemy chargers in November, but her family was forced to take asylum in Canada in March. Masih’s attorney, Tahir Naveed, had anticipated an acquittal for the cleric, citing ineffective policing as well as the volatile religious and political climate. “The court freed Jadoon because the police failed to assure the witnesses that they would not be harmed,” Naveed told Morning Star News. “Moreover, the trial court judges are also under immense pressure when hearing blasphemy cases.” While witnesses attributed their original statements on police “coercion,” Christian rights activist Allama Tahir Ashrafi argued that after the government had refused to ensure them protection, witnesses had acted out of fear. “Three days before the witnesses retracted their statements, an extremist group supporting Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of former Punjab Gov. Salmaan Taseer, held a rally in Rawalpindi wherein they publicly issued life threats to the witnesses in Rimsha case,” Ashrafi told Morning Star News. “I believe that the police and administration are equally responsible for poor prosecution in the case.” The court announced its decision just days after Pakistani civil society groups and human rights organizations took to the streets for a “day of mourning” to call for an end to anti-blasphemy laws in the country, which according to the Pakistan Christian Post, often serve as justifications for intimidation, violence and terror. “An accusation of blasphemy commonly subjects the accused, police, lawyers, and judges to harassment, threats, attacks and extra judicial killing. An accusation is sometimes the prelude to vigilantism and rioting as it happened in Gojra and Lahore. Those who are accused of blasphemy including their family members have to face many hardships and to move from one place to other for their safety of lives and this is not for years rather it is for whole life,” it said. Despite minority anger toward blasphemy laws, Pakistanis who support the law have create a chilling climate for those who would speak out against them. Politicians Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, who used their platforms to speak out against blasphemy laws, were both assassinated in 2011. “During Rimsha’s case, the Islamabad High Court ruled that misuse of the blasphemy laws had brought a bad name to Pakistan and Islam,” said Ashrafi.”[21]

The Guardian: “The country’s blasphemy law is overwhelmingly being used to persecute religious minorities and settle personal vendettas. As the case of 14-year-old Christian Rimsha Masih gains global attention, why have politicians failed to act?  Fourteen years ago, around the time young Rimsha Masih, now in jail under Pakistan’s blasphemy law, was born, a Roman Catholic bishop walked into a courthouse in Sahiwal, quite close to my hometown in Central Punjab. The Right Rev John Joseph was no ordinary clergyman; he was the first native bishop in Pakistan and the first ever Punjabi bishop anywhere in the world. He was also a brilliant and celebrated community organiser, the kind of man oppressed communities look up to as a role model. Joseph walked in alone, asking a junior priest to wait outside the courthouse. Inside the court, he took out a handgun and shot himself in the head. The bullet in his head was his protest against the court’s decision to sentence a fellow Christian, Ayub Masih, to death for committing blasphemy. Masih had been charged with arguing with a Muslim co-worker over religious matters. (…) The bishop had campaigned long and hard to get the blasphemy law repealed without any luck. He wrote prior to his death: “I shall count myself extremely fortunate if in this mission of breaking the barriers, our Lord accepts the sacrifice of my blood for the benefit of his people.” Joseph had been pursuing another case, in which an 11-year-old, Salamat Masih, along with his father and uncle, was accused of scribbling something blasphemous on the wall of the mosque. (…) The boy’s uncle, Manzoor Masih, was shot dead during the trial. The Masih case went to the high court, where a judge, Arif Bhatti, applied common sense and released him. A year later the judge was murdered in his own chambers, and his killers claimed that the judge had committed blasphemy by freeing those accused in the blasphemy case. Frustrated and in a fit of rage, the bishop meditated and reached the conclusion that he should kill himself publicly to make his point. You could argue that Joseph should have organised candlelight vigils, gone on a hunger strike, hired better lawyers. But he had tried everything and realised that a bullet in the head in the middle of a court was his only way to draw attention to this colossal absurdity called blasphemy law. He was wrong. The law stayed. Many more Christians were killed. There are situations though, where confronted with the prospect of a 14-year-old being sentenced to death, as a celebrated community leader you can’t do anything but take a gun to your head. (…)  So what can constitute blasphemy under the blasphemy law, which has killed dozens in the past decade, made thousands homeless and millions live in permanent fear about what might be found in their trashcan. (…) but here are some of the everyday situations that can turn you into a blasphemer: 1. Transporting ashes in a plastic bag to a rubbish dump, as has happened in Masih’s case. 2. Discussing conjugal rights according to Islam with fellow Muslims if you disagree with them. You might think you are with a fellow Muslim, around a water pump and relatively safe. That is what a schoolteacher in Chakwal thought. And got into an argument. He has been in jail for the past 10 months. His 14-year-old daughter told the daily newspaper Dawn last week that kids won’t talk to her because her father is a blasphemer. 3. Not minding your spellings. Last year a teacher checking exam papers called in the police after he found blasphemous material in an answer sheet. The police wouldn’t reveal the exact material because that, you know, would be blasphemous. Later it transpired that it was a case of bad spelling. 4. Writing a novel called Blasphemy. Last year there were calls to put an author on trial because she had been disrespectful to religious scholars and spiritual saints. Last I heard she was fine but not writing any more novels with any other name. 5. Writing a children’s poem with a lion as its central character. Pakistan’s most famous social activist, Akhtar Hameed Khan, who spent his life helping people in Asia’s largest slum, tried his hand at a poem like that and spent his last years in courts facing blasphemy charges. (…) 7. Throwing away a visiting card. A doctor in Hyderabad did that to a pestering pharmaceutical salesman and found himself in serious trouble. The salesman had Muhammad as part of his name. (…) The continuous Shia massacres across Pakistan are not hatched in some far-off land, by enemies of Pakistan or enemies of Islam as Pakistan’s maulanas pretend; they are preached, planned and executed from local mosques. (…) But let’s not have any illusions: no political party has the courage to rewrite a single word in the law let alone repeal it. The 11-year-old Salamat Masih who Joseph had fought for was sentenced to death. A higher court later overturned the decision but it was obvious the boy would never be safe in the country. (…) In Joseph’s hometown in Faisalabad, in a Muslim seminary called Jamia Rehmania, they made a monument to his sacrifice. Jamia Rehmania also supports the blasphemy law. The memorial, called Bishop John Joseph Memorial Hall is the only monument in Pakistan dedicated to a blasphemer.”[22]

BBC: “Pakistan will start monitoring seven major websites, including Google and Yahoo, for content it deems offensive to Muslims. YouTube, Amazon, MSN, Hotmail and Bing will also come under scrutiny, while 17 less well-known sites will be blocked. Officials will monitor the sites and block links deemed inappropriate. In May, Pakistan banned access to Facebook after the social network hosted a “blasphemous” competition to draw the prophet Muhammad. The new action will see Pakistani authorities monitor content published on the seven sites, blocking individual pages if content is judged to be offensive. Telecoms official Khurram Mehran said links would be blocked without disturbing the main website. Cartoon controversy. The ban on Facebook was lifted after about two weeks, when the site blocked access to the page, called Everybody Draw Muhammad. Facebook itself is not on the new list of websites to be monitored. A number of links from YouTube will be blocked but not the main site itself. Many Muslims regard depictions of Muhammad, even favourable ones, as blasphemous. In 2007, the government banned YouTube, allegedly to block material offensive to the government of Pervez Musharraf. The action led to widespread disruption of access to the site for several hours. The ban was later lifted.”[23]

BBC: “Pakistani Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti has been shot dead by gunmen who ambushed his car in broad daylight in the capital, Islamabad. He was travelling to work through a residential district when his vehicle was sprayed with bullets, police said. Mr Bhatti, the cabinet’s only Christian minister, had received death threats for urging reform to blasphemy laws. In January, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who had also opposed the law, was shot dead by one of his bodyguards. The blasphemy law carries a death sentence for anyone who insults Islam. Critics say it has been used to persecute minority faiths. (…) Pamphlets by al-Qaeda and Tehrik-i-Taliban Punjab, a branch of the Taliban in Pakistan’s most populous province, were found at the scene. Tehrik-i-Taliban told BBC Urdu they carried out the attack. “This man was a known blasphemer of the Prophet [Muhammad],” said the group’s deputy spokesman, Ahsanullah Ahsan. “We will continue to target all those who speak against the law which punishes those who insult the prophet. Their fate will be the same.” (…) A government spokesman condemned the assassination. “This is a concerted campaign to slaughter every liberal, progressive and humanist voice in Pakistan,” Farahnaz Ispahani, an aide to President Asif Ali Zardari, told AP news agency.”[24]

Sune Engel Rasmussen: “Pakistan: man sentenced to death for blasphemy on Facebook. Taimoor Raza was found guilty of insulting the prophet Muhammad during an argument on social media with a counter-terrorism official. Blasphemy is a sensitive charge in conservative Muslim Pakistan, where even unproven allegations can trigger mob lynchings and violence. An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan has sentenced a man to death for allegedly committing blasphemy on Facebook, the latest step in an intensified crackdown on dissent on social media. A court in Bahawalpur handed out the verdict, the harshest yet for such a crime, after finding Taimoor Raza, 30, guilty of insulting the prophet Muhammad.  Raza was arrested last year after a debate about Islam on Facebook with a man who turned out to be a counter-terrorism agent. He was one among 15 people arrested by the counter-terrorism department last year, accused of blasphemy, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. The verdict is part of a wider crackdown on perceived dissent on social media in a country where unfounded allegations of blasphemy can lead to mob vigilante justice. (…) Raza’s defence attorney said his client had been charged with two unrelated sections of the law to ensure the maximum penalty. “Initially, it was a case of insulting remarks on sectarian grounds and the offence was 298A, which punishes for derogatory remarks about other religious personalities for up to two years,” said Fida Hussain Rana, the defence counsel. Raza was later charged unde section 295C of the penal code, related to “derogatory acts against prophet Muhammad”, Rana said. Social media represents a new battleground for the Pakistani fight against blasphemy. Authorities have asked Twitter and Facebook to help identify users sharing blasphemous material, and have distributed text messages encouraging Pakistanis to report fellow citizens. (…) “The casual manner in which death sentences are handed in blasphemy cases coupled with the lack of orientation of Pakistani courts with technology makes this a very dangerous situation,” said Saroop Ijaz, a lawyer with Human Rights Watch in Pakistan. “Such sentences will embolden those who want to wrongly frame people,” he said, noting with concern that Saturday’s sentence was handed down by an anti-terrorism court, not a regular court. “The confusion between national security and religion is very alarming,” Ijaz said. Aside from blasphemy, national security charges are also levelled against people who say their only offence is opposition to the government. Recently, the Federal Investigation Agency detained dozens of social media users for posting “anti-military” content, including journalists and supporters of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf (PTI) party, one of whom shared a satirical photo of prime minister Nawaz Sharif. They were detained under the controversial Prevention of Electronic Crime Act, passed last year, which has been criticised for curbing human rights and giving overreaching powers to law enforcement agencies. An FIA official told the Guardian that his agency had orders from the interior ministry to interrogate, and seize laptops and phones, without warrant. “We are authorised to detain anyone, just on suspicion,” the agent said. Quratulain Zaman, human rights defender with Bytes for All Pakistan, said the harassment of social media users was unprecedented, and a sign of social media’s growing ability to shape public opinion, including against the military. While Raza is the first person sentenced to death for blasphemy on social media, several others are on death row for alleged blasphemy in public.”[25]

Saroop Ijaz: “In Pakistan, a Text Message Can Lead to a Death Sentence. Officials Lean on Abusive Blasphemy Law to Punish Free Speech. In Pakistan, a poem sent over WhatsApp can prove deadly. On September 14, a court in Gujrat district, Punjab province sentenced to death Nadeem James, a 35-year-old Christian, for sending a poem to a friend that was deemed insulting to Islam. James denies ever having sent the message. James isn’t the only person in Pakistan condemned to death over a post on social media. In June, Taimoor Raza, 30, was sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court in Bahawalpur district for allegedly making blasphemous comments during a Facebook chat with someone who eventually turned out be a counterterrorism agent on the prowl. In April 2014, a Christian couple were sentenced to death for sending a blasphemous text message to a local cleric. The couple claimed that they were illiterate and could not have sent a blasphemous text in English. Junaid Hafeez, a university professor, has been imprisoned for nearly four years facing a possible death sentence for accusations of sharing blasphemous material online. Hafeez’s lawyer was murdered in May 2014. The abusive nature of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws is not new. However, the increasing use of blasphemy provisions to jail and prosecute people for comments made on social media is a dangerous escalation. Many officials are using religious rhetoric and whipping up tensions over the issue of blasphemy. In March, the then-interior minister described blasphemers as “enemies of humanity” and expressed the intention of taking the matter of blasphemers to a “logical conclusion.” Although no one has yet been executed for the crime, Pakistan’s penal code makes the death penalty mandatory in blasphemy convictions. At least 19 people remain on death row. Even accusations of blasphemy can be deadly. Since 1990, at least 60 people accused of blasphemy have been murdered. Religious minorities are significantly overrepresented among those facing blasphemy charges, and are often victimized due to personal disputes. A death sentence for alleged blasphemy online in a country with low literacy rates and lack of familiarity with modern technology is an invitation for a witch-hunt. Pakistan needs to amend and ultimately repeal its blasphemy laws; not extend their scope to digital speech.”[26]

 

Evidence: Violation of Freedom of Expression

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: “PAKISTAN 2017/2018. The crackdown on freedom of expression intensified. The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 was used to intimidate, harass and arbitrarily detain human rights defenders for online comments. Enforced disappearances were widespread; impunity was prevalent. Blasphemy-related violence claimed the life of a student, triggering rare condemnation from the government. Large demonstrations took place in support of blasphemy laws, which were used to convict people expressing opinions online. Journalists were attacked by unidentified assailants. Minorities continued to face discrimination in the enjoyment of economic and social rights. Attempts to restrict child marriage were blocked by Parliament. Killings of women continued in so-called “honour” crimes, despite the 2016 law criminalizing the practice. Freedom of expression. Attacks on freedom of expression continued, particularly against those posting comments online. In January, five bloggers who made anonymous online comments said to be critical of the military were subject to enforced disappearances. Four of the bloggers were later released; two of them later said they had been tortured while in military intelligence custody; the fifth remained disappeared. The draconian Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act of 2016 was used to carry out a number of arrests throughout the year including, in June, the arrest of journalist Zafarullah Achakzai, a reporter for the newspaper Daily Qudrat. Over subsequent weeks, supporters of different political parties were arrested for social media posts critical of the authorities. No action was taken against social media accounts belonging to armed groups that incited discrimination and violence. People were prosecuted after being accused, particularly over social media, for alleged breaches of vague and broad blasphemy laws, which criminalized peaceful expression if deemed to offend religious sensibilities. In June, Taimoor Raza was sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court in Punjab, southern province, for allegedly blasphemous posts on Facebook. In September, Nadeem James, a Christian, was sentenced to death by a court in Gujrat city for sharing a “blasphemous” poem over WhatsApp. Accusations of committing blasphemy triggered the execution-style killing of Mashal Khan, a university student, in Mardan city. In April, a mob of students stormed his hostel, stripped him naked and beat him repeatedly before shooting him. Then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed to take action against those who “misuse” the blasphemy laws. Six days later, a “faith healer” accused of blasphemy was similarly killed by three attackers inside his home in Sialkot city. Two days after that, a mob in Chitral city attacked a man accused of blasphemy, injuring police officers trying to protect him. In May, a 10-year-old boy was killed and five others were injured as a mob in Hub town in Balochistan tried to attack Prakash Kumar, a Hindu, for allegedly posting an offensive image online. Senior government officials exacerbated tensions around blasphemy-related offences. In March, then Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan deemed so-called blasphemers “enemies of humanity”. In February and March, the Islamabad High Court ordered the removal of allegedly blasphemous content online and directed the government to initiate proceedings against people responsible for uploading them.” [27]

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: “Freedom of Expression and Attacks on Civil Society. Many journalists increasingly practice self-censorship, fearing retribution from security forces, military intelligence, and militant groups. Media outlets in 2016 remained under pressure to avoid reporting on or criticizing human rights violations in counterterrorism operations. (…) In January, the Pakistan Rangers entered and, without a warrant, searched the Karachi house of Salman Masood, a New York Times journalist. The Interior Ministry issued an apology and ordered an inquiry, while other members of the administration claimed the raid was part of a broader search operation in the area. However, only one other house was searched, raising concerns that the raid’s aim was to harass and intimidate Masood. In May, four unidentified gunmen killed Khurram Zaki in Karachi. Zaki had been publicly critical of extremist cleric Abdul Aziz and militant sectarian groups, and had been receiving threats. He had confided to friends that he was on several militant “hitlists.” (…)  In August, the Prevention of Cybercrimes law was enacted, which allows the government to censor online content and to criminalize internet user activity under extremely broad and vague criteria. The law also sanctions government authorities to access data of internet users without judicial review or oversight. A year after the government announced a policy for “Regulation of INGOs in Pakistan,” there were credible reports of the policy being used to harass and impede the work of international humanitarian and human rights groups. In March, three Islamabad-based human rights groups had to stop work for not complying with regulatory requirements. Numerous nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), particularly in Punjab province, were intimidated, harassed, and in some case had their offices sealed on the pretext of implementation of the national plan against terrorism.”[28]

 

Evidence: Violation of the Human Right to Life

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: “Pakistan has more than 8,000 prisoners on death row, one of the world’s largest populations of prisoners facing execution. Pakistani law mandates capital punishment for 28 offenses, including murder, rape, treason, and blasphemy. Those on death row are often from the most marginalized sections of society, including people with disabilities. At least 85 people were executed in 2016.” [29]

The Nation: “International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has urged the government to halt the imminent execution of Shoaib Sarwar, scheduled to take place on September 18, 2014.
In 1998, a Sessions Court had found Shoaib Sarwar guilty of murdering Awais Nawaz. In 2003, the Lahore High Court rejected his appeal, and in 2006, the Supreme Court confirmed the death sentence. The President of Pakistan also rejected Shoaib Sarwar’s mercy petition seeking to have the execution commuted. “Pakistan has had an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty since June 2008, with only the exception of Muhammad Hussain’s execution in November 2012 following a court martial,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, in a statement issued to media on Friday. “Breaking its moratorium on the death penalty will be a major step backward for Pakistan, calling into question the commitment of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government to its human rights obligations”. The resumption of the death penalty puts Pakistan in opposition to the global and regional movement towards the abolition of the death penalty. Currently, 150 countries worldwide, including 30 states in the Asia-Pacific region, have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice.
Resuming executions is all the more alarming given that over 8,000 people are currently on death row in Pakistan,” added Zarifi. “With the death penalty prescribed for 27 offences, including blasphemy, arms smuggling and offences related to drugs, these numbers are increasing by the day.” The ICJ opposes capital punishment in all cases without exception. The death penalty constitutes a violation of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. In 2007, the UN General Assembly had adopted a resolution emphasizing, “that the use of death penalty undermines human dignity” and calling for the establishment of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty “with a view to abolishing the death penalty“. The resolution was reaffirmed in 2008, 2010, and most recently in December 2012, when an overwhelming majority of 110 UN member states voted in favor of a worldwide moratorium on executions as a step towards abolition of the death penalty.
The ICJ urges the Pakistani government to respect UN General Assembly resolutions and immediately halt Shoaib Sarwar’s impending execution. In addition, the ICJ calls on the government to instate an official moratorium on the death penalty, with a view to abolishing the death penalty in law and in practice and to acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the abolition of capital punishment. (…)  The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said it was dismayed at the news. “HRCP wishes to remind the government that the reasons that have caused the stay of executions since 2008 have not changed,” the group said in a statement.  “These include the well-documented deficiencies of the law, flaws in administration of justice and investigation methods and chronic corruption.” (…) European Union officials indicated last year that if Pakistan resumed executions, it could jeopardise a highly prized trade deal with the bloc.
An EU rights delegation warned it would be seen as a “major setback” if Pakistan restarted hangings. Rights campaign group Amnesty International estimates that Pakistan has more than 8,000 prisoners on death row, most of whom have exhausted the appeals process.”[30]

DW: “The Islamic country’s human rights groups have expressed concern about mob vigilantism over blasphemy accusations. Activists say that in Pakistan it is easy to accuse anyone of committing blasphemy, which, according to the law, is punishable by death. Witnesses are usually not required to file a police case against the alleged blasphemer. In many cases in the past, those accused of insulting Islam or its prophet Muhammad have been killed by angry crowds. Rights groups say the government’s recent crackdown on alleged blasphemers is a major reason behind Mashal Khan’s murder as such measures are emboldening religious fanatics in the South Asian country. “The state’s abject failure to protect Mashal Khan’s right to life has created great panic and horror among students and academia. Unless all those who played any part in Khan’s brutal murder are brought to justice, such barbarity will only spread,” the nongovernmental Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said in a statement on Friday. “The malaise that manifested itself in Mardan will not vanish with brief shuttering of the university. All those who believe in positive human values must speak out and suggest ways to prevent vigilantes causing mayhem by using the name of religion. Staying quiet in the face of such barbarism will condemn us all as accomplices,” said HRCP. Online blasphemy. In March, PM Sharif issued an order for the removal of online “blasphemous content and said anyone who posted such content should face “strict punishment under the law“. Rights groups say the authorities want to stifle dissenting voices as an increasing number of people are criticizing government policies and actions through social media and other cyber platforms. That is also the reason why the Pakistani government has introduced stricter measures to control social media and the internet, rights groups allege. Pakistani civil society has become alarmed over blasphemy accusations against liberal activists. In January, renowned rights activist and university professor Salman Haider disappeared from the capital Islamabad. Three other secular activists – Waqas Goraya, Asim Saeed and Ahmed Raza – also went missing. After several weeks, all these bloggers returned to their homes, with Goraya claiming that he was “abducted” by Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies. Many commentators in the Pakistani media later accused the bloggers of running anti-Islam Facebook pages. An Islamabad resident also filed a complaint with the police accusing the activists of committing blasphemy. “This vigilantism is being supported by the state as well as the judiciary. Religious clerics are fanning hatred. Even the civil society has failed to perform its duties. All this culminated in the brutal murder of Mashal Khan,” Aatif Afzal, an Islamabad-based rights activist and communication strategist with a media development organization, told DW. Collective intolerance. Pakistan has witnessed an unprecedented surge in Islamic extremism and religious fanaticism in the past decade. Islamist groups, including the Taliban, have repeatedly targeted religious minorities in the country in order to impose their strict Shariah law on people. According to the HRCP, 2013 was one of the worst years for religious minorities in the country. Several people were charged with blasphemy, many places of worship were burned down and houses were looted all over the country. Asad Butt of the HRCP told DW that intolerance was definitely growing in Pakistan, and that many Pakistanis considered blasphemy an “unpardonable crime.” But how and when did Pakistanis become so intolerant towards other religions and their followers? “The days are gone when we said it was a small group of religious extremists, xenophobes, hate-mongers and bigots who commit such crimes,” Karachi-based journalist Mohsin Sayeed told DW. “Now the venom has spread to the whole of Pakistani society,” he added. Activist Afzal says that blasphemy violence will not stop in Pakistan until the government takes firm action against vigilantism and those who wrongly accuse people of blasphemy. “It can be a defining moment in Pakistan’s war against religious extremism. But I am afraid the political parties will not act. They are only interested in securing their vote bank,” Afzal told DW, adding that Pakistani civil society will continue to build pressure on the government to reform blasphemy laws.”[31]

 

Evidence: Violation on Islamic Law

Arafat Mazhar: “A few days ago, a video of erstwhile pop icon and widely heard Islamic evangelist, Junaid Jamshed went viral on the Internet, in which his remarks were perceived as blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his wife, Ayesha (RA). By the time of the writing of this article, he has been charged under the Blasphemy Law (clause 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code). The clause reads: 295-C – Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet: Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.   The law prescribes a fixed death penalty for all those who are found guilty. (…) the dominant religious narrative in the country holds that blasphemy is an unpardonable offence. Simply put – you blaspheme, you die. (…) The credibility of this assertion is built on an apparently universal consensus (ijma) on the subject across all four Sunni schools of thought. By maintaining this front of scholarly consensus, the religious leadership disallows any concept of an alternative position. This idea of a unanimous scholarly endorsement of an unwaivable death penalty for blasphemy has been relentlessly repeated: in the Federal Sharia Court Judgment on the blasphemy law in the ‘90s, in the Parliament, in the popular print and oral narrative on television channels, and has seeped deeply into the consciousness of the Pakistani population. In the collective imagination of mainstream Pakistan, blasphemy is not a pardonable offense and anyone who believes otherwise is also committing blasphemy, and must similarly pay with their life. (…)  The question was asked centuries ago by Hanafi Jurists such as Abu Hanifa, his student Abu Yusuf in Kitab al-Kharaj, Imam Tahawi in Mukhtasar al-Tahawi, Imam Sufyan ath-Thawri, Imam Abu Bakar Ala al-Din Kasani in Bada’i as Sanai, Taqī al-Dīn al-Subki in al-Sayf al-maslūl ‘alā man sabba al-Rasūl, and a vast number of other eminent Hanafi scholars. All were led to the question (…): Is blasphemy a pardonable offense? The answer, it is clear, was a categorical yes. The stance that ‘blasphemers who ask for a pardon would be spared the death penalty’ has already been established by the founder of the Hanafi school of thought, Abu Hanifa. Within the Hanafi position, it simply does not go higher than Abu Hanifa, and it is the Hanafi school of thought that is foremost in significance, in terms of religio-legal debates in the Supreme Court, the Federal Sharia Court and the Council of Islamic Ideology. Moreover, a long line of students and followers of Abu Hanifa, legal heavyweights of their respective eras, further corroborated this position in many of their works. Centuries of Hanafi scholarship have maintained the same categorical answer to our original question: Yes, blasphemy is a pardonable offense.  Keep in mind: as per the principles (usul) of the Hanafi jurisprudence, a consensus of Abu Hanifa and his students cannot now be challenged. This is one of the primary principles of taqlid in traditional Islamic legal thought. The letter of the law 295-C makes no mention of the permissibility of pardoning a blasphemer. In fact, it is a Federal Sharia Court interpretation of the law that serves as the operational blueprint of the application of the law, which rules out pardon. They considered the same sources as listed above, and somehow reached the opposite conclusion: that the authoritative position of Imam Abu Hanifa and his students is that blasphemy is not, in fact, a pardonable offense. How could this possibly have happened? How could such a clearly stated position, maintained for centuries, be so misinterpreted? In my pursuit of answers, I discovered that in the 15th century a Hanafi scholar, Al-Bazzazzi, misquoted the Hanafi position on pardon that had been established since the time of Abu Hanifa. It is important to note that he was not offering an alternative stance; he meant to describe the original position but erroneously ended up misrepresenting it entirely. It is baffling to consider how he could have strayed so far from the original position.  Imam Ibn e Abidin, one of the most revered scholars in South Asia, chancing upon his erroneous depiction, was moved to write an impassioned critique of this divergent position – not only explaining Bazzazzi’s error as a ‘misreading of two important works’ (Al Sarim-ul-Maslool ala Shatim-ur-Rasool by Ibn Taymiyyah and Al Shifa by Qadi Iyad), but also summarily dismissing the idea that blasphemy is unpardonable as “ridiculous”. (…) One of the most important scholarly figures in Islamic legal tradition, and one of the most revered figures in Deobandi madrassahs across Pakistan, Imam Ibn Abidin had the wisdom and foresight to warn that these competing narratives, if allowed to exist, would create undue confusion and chaos. He counseled the scholars to be meticulous in their research on the referencing of primary resources. Where Pakistan’s laws came from. Advocate Ismaeel Qureshi, the architect of the blasphemy law, apparently did not get the memo. In his best-selling book on blasphemy and his petition, Qureshi apparently built his case of an irrevocable death penalty, with no scope for pardon on the works of leading Hanafi authorities, and ironically, Imam Ibn Abidin himself. In an a case of history repeating itself, he followed in Al-Bazzazzi’s footsteps in erroneously subverting the position of Imam Ibn Abidin. At one point, in Fatawa e Shami, Ibn Abidin takes Bazzazzi’s claim – ‘the punishment for blasphemy is death, it is unpardonable and anyone who disagrees is also guilty of blasphemy’ – dissects it and goes on to criticise it for the next six pages. Advocate Ismaeel Qureshi, grasping the first thing he saw, slaps Imam Ibn Abidin’s name on to the very position that Abidin so passionately refuted right after quoting the original problematic claim.  When I learnt of this, I approached Advocate Ismaeel Qureshi with the primary text and showed him the counter-evidence to his assertions. Qureshi acknowledged that mistakes had been made in the research upon which the judicial interpretation of Pakistan’s blasphemy law now rests. The history and process of how the events transpired to produce the law in its current form therefore, reads like a series of unfortunate errors.  The repercussions for those caught in the crossfire, are however, far more deadly than just ‘unfortunate’. Why does no credible source from the mainstream religious leadership then step forward and set the record straight? (…) In the midst of all this chaos and misinformation, there is still hope for the likes of Asia Bibi and Junaid Jamshed. There is no need to change the letter of the blasphemy law for Junaid Jamshed and Asia Bibi to get their pardon. All that is required is to revisit the judicial interpretation, and rectify the erroneous conclusion of the Federal Sharia Court that was reached on the basis of dubious research. The blasphemy law, according to the Hanafi position, allows for pardon. That is all that Imam Ibn Abidin pointed out.”[32]

Arafat Mazhar: “Pakistan’s blasphemy law continues to sustain popularity and credence, with death being considered not only the most appropriate retribution for offenders, but the only one. This ideology is embraced most wholeheartedly when it comes to non-Muslims charged with blasphemy. In my previous article when I spoke of the authentic Hanafi position on the permissibility of pardon for all blasphemers (Muslims and non-Muslims), the overwhelming response supported such a pardon for the likes of Junaid Jamshed (a ‘fellow Muslim brother who had offended some by mistake’) but held that the same principle of pardon could not be extended to non-Muslim offenders such as Asia Bibi. (…) There was a time when this was not so – in fact, at one point, the most revered ulema (religious scholars) of South Asia had rallied together to defend the position that non-Muslims could not be awarded the death penalty for blaspheming. This occurred in the late 19th century, when the South Asian ulema (the overwhelming majority of whom belonged to the Hanafi school of thought) were under ideological attack from the Ahl-e-Hadith. The Ahl-i-Hadith originated as a movement influenced (and later funded) by the Wahabis of the Arabian Peninsula. This movement challenged the established Hanafi rulings on various issues, including blasphemy, alleging that these were based on opinion (ra`y) and Greek influenced analogy-driven reasoning (Qiyas), rather than on prophetic tradition (Ahadith). In particular, they took exception to what they perceived as Hanafi lenience towards non-Muslims blasphemers (i.e. not prescribing a fixed death penalty and the provision for pardon) which they viewed as incompatible with Ahadith. The exact position of Abu Hanifa (the founder of Hanafi School) that ends up being a source of contention for the Ahl-i-Hadith. These criticisms roused the Hanafi ulema to an impassioned rebuttal. Many of them targeted the Ahl-e-Hadith from within their own framework, deconstructing several Ahadith that formed the basis of these criticisms. One such example is a monumental, 21-volume commentary, the I’la al-Sunan (the exaltation of the normative practices [of the Prophet]) by Maulana Zafar Ahmad ‘Uthmani, aiming to demonstrate, against the charges of the Ahl-i-Hadith, that the legal doctrines of the Hanafi school were in fact solidly based in traditions of the Prophet (PBUH). Despite monolithic individual efforts of such stature, the most profound and relevant in terms of blasphemy, in my view, was Fath Al Mubeen Tanbeeh Al Wahabin (an explicit victory and a warning against the Wahabis). This contains a fatwa (see below) that clearly states that a non-Muslim blasphemer cannot be killed unless he/she is habitual in the offense. This last part is an important qualifier because it differentiates single acts of blasphemy from multiple and deliberate attempts, in fact from what is considered politically rebellious blasphemy. The monumental fatwa endorsed by 450 scholars that shows that killing is not permissible unless adat (habituality) and kasrat (high frequency) of offenses are established. (…) There is not a single case where a non-Muslim was ever killed for committing a singular offense of blasphemy.  (Further, according to Imam Abu Hanifa, the death penalty is awarded in cases where it is categorised as siyasa (political) punishment, as opposed to sharia (divine) punishment, against elements openly rebelling against the Islamic state, using habitual blasphemy as a tool). This legal position was approved and signed by no less than 450 of the most prestigious names in the Hanafi ulema, not just from South Asia, but around the world.  It is difficult to come up with a case study of a bigger systematic consensus (ijma) than this one. Hundreds of leading ulema of their time from South Asia have declared that non-Muslims cannot be killed for a single offense for blasphemy and their pardon is acceptable unless it becomes a habitual and high frequency offense. But to really appreciate the magnitude of this ruling for a country like Pakistan, we must look to some of the key signatories of this stance — one of them being Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi. Many readers might know that Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi was the founder of the Barelvi school of thought, one of the two predominant Hanafi groups, and the religious orientation to which groups like Sunni Tehreek subscribe. The founder is considered a Pir, Saint and a most revered figure, amongst his followers, and the general populace. Ironically, four years ago this month, Punjab Governer Salman Taseer was assassinated by Mumtaz Qadri, for pleading for pardon for Asia Bibi. Mumtaz Qadri, who is a devout Barelvi, would be surprised, I am sure, to learn that the founder and most respected figure of his sect had endorsed pardon for non-Muslim blasphemers, and the view that non-Muslims cannot be killed for a single offense of blasphemy. Incidentally, the co-founder of the other of the two Hanafi groups (Deoband), Mahmood Hassan Deobandi – also known as the Sheikh al Hind – is also a signatory on the above. (…) Both the founders of Deoband and Barelvi have endorsed the position that a non-Muslim cannot be killed for a single offense of blasphemy and therefore must be pardoned. It is interesting to note that as per the Hanafi thought, we might be talking about no jail time/punishment for the first offense. The Hanafi position clearly stating that first time offenders will only be warned, meaning that may not even be subjected to jail time. Quite apart from this fatwa, there is another key scholar of immediate relevance in the minds and hearts of the nation who has echoed the same position as these revered names. Maulana Maududi is a household name across the country and is the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, one of the main religio-political parties in Pakistan. Readers might be surprised to know that Maulana Maududi has also said that an act of blasphemy does not leave non-Muslims liable to capital punishment by the state. The rights of dhimmi (non-Muslims) living in a Muslim state include protection of his life even in instances of blasphemy as per Maulana Maududi. All this nuanced handling of the issue is a far cry from the reality of its application today (in Pakistan), where a single unfortunate, ill-informed, ill-judged alleged utterance can lead to a conviction under the law, and the death penalty. Our law in letter and in its judicial interpretation prescribes a hudd punishment for a single offense of blasphemy.  It makes no distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims, repeat vs single offences, siyasa vs sharia punishment. It goes against hundreds of top South Asian ulema and it goes against the founders of the predominant religio-political groups in Pakistan.  The idea that the current interpretation of this law is based on a complete consensus in the religious tradition is a myth. This is especially crucial for those currently charged under the law, held in jail and fighting for their lives, as in the case of Asia bibi. She is not guilty of multiple offences of blasphemy. She has begged for pardon multiple times. According to the rulings of founder of Hanafi School, founder of Deoband thought, founder of Barelvi thought and the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, Asia Bibi should be given a pardon. What punishment then, would our clergy, our Mumtaz Qadris, and our vigilante mobs, like to prescribe for their revered religious figures, the founders of their sects and 450 of the most prestigious scholars in South Asia and around the world, for allowing pardon for non-Muslims? The voices of these scholars are key for the change in narrative around the blasphemy law, opening space for conversation and debate, in building tolerance, in honouring the real voices of those who have dedicated their lives to studying these positions. Most importantly, referencing these scholars ensures that no grave injustice occurs in the fair name of our Prophet (PBUH) — an act of devotion we sorely need.”[33]

Arafat Mazhar: “This is a story of a group of religious and religio-political actors who completely changed their position on the blasphemy law for what they perceived to be the greater good of the society. It was not that long ago that the Pakistani ulema were openly stating a position on the blasphemy law that said blasphemy does not mandate a fixed penalty, and is a pardonable offense. And then, something changed. Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassination acted as a catalyst for a rapid shift from what they originally held to be true (not only expounded by others but by their own selves) to a much more radical and populist stance. (…) Moreover, this law and the narrative surrounding it serve as a tool for the persecution of minorities. This claim is not hyperbole – it is grounded in fact. (…)  The following (…) compares the extra judicial (vigilante) killings related to blasphemy and accusations of blasphemy before and after the passing of the blasphemy law (295-C). It also shows the exponential increase in blasphemy cases over the past two decades. It is clear that either people have become a lot more blasphemous, or there is an inherent capacity within the law to be used as a weapon of persecution. (Comparison of Blasphemy Accusations from 1927-1986 and 1987-2014. Before and after the introduction of the stricter blasphemy laws in 1987: 7 accusations before – 1335 accusations after) (Extra Judicial Killings Before and After the Law was passed. There were 2 cases of Extra Judicial killings from 1946-1987 as compared to 57 cases of Extra Judicial Killings after the law was passed from 1987-present. The narrative behind and surrounding the law has resulted in an alarming increase in extra judicial killings). A more in-depth look at the minorities targeted under the law reveal what may well be specifically a method of institutionalised persecution against the Ahmadis. (…) The power of the law means that it becomes important for religo-political actors to attach their narrative to the law, because that is where political mileage lies. The clearest example of this was when Taseer was assassinated for requesting a presidential pardon for a blasphemy accused, and members of the public hailed his killer as a hero and approved of the murder. Those who had previously acknowledged the option of pardon and waiver of the death penalty, recognising the shift in the locus of power, quickly changed their position in response to the apparent public sentiment. The manner in which they have erased all mention of the possibility of pardon from their narrative and public declarations — endorsing even the polar opposite of what they have known to be true — makes for a fascinating case study of binary before and afters. It demonstrates all too clearly the hand of politics at work in the functioning of the ‘apolitical’ religious scholarship. A few cases in point: Jamia Binoria (…) Mufti Muneeb ur Rehman (…) If Sharia allows pardon in blasphemy cases, who can deny it?  It appears that Mufti Muneeb had a sudden case of amnesia during his debate with Ghamidi as he brushes away the idea in the strongest of terms. The debate between Mufti Muneeb ur Rehman and Javed Ahmed Ghamidi. Mufti Muneeb ur Rehman has also gone on record in conferences declaring that Ghamidi’s insistence on pardon is a danger to the religious authority of the ulema. (…) In contrast to the demand-driven about turns since Taseer’s assassination, we can look to simpler times when the issue of pardon was raised in a relative political vacuum by looking to the stance of no less a personage than the Grand Mufti of Pakistan. Our Grand Mufti Rafi Usmani is perhaps the most authoritative faqih (Islamic Jurist) in Pakistan. In 2003, he actually gave a step-by-step procedure for obtaining pardon for blasphemy (in the Council of Islamic Ideology Annual Report, 2003-04, pg 135). This was in response to a query by the state on the acceptability of pardon for those charged under 295-C. While these particular steps are for a Muslim (as per the case in question), he does acknowledge the provision of pardon as the Hanafi position for non-Muslims in the same article as well. (…) The very fact that he gave the criteria for pardon means that he is giving a legal and procedural way forward for people like Dr Younus Shaikh and Asia Bibi.  While the politicised religious forces were busy condoning and celebrating the assassination of Taseer for requesting pardon for Asia Bibi, buried in the archives of the CII annual reports, our own Grand Mufti had provided procedural recommendation for pardon years ago. The Bench of the Ulema in the Federal Shariat Court Judgment 1991. As noted in the previous article, Ismaeel Qureshi – the architect of the law – filed a petition in the Federal Shariat Court to declare blasphemy a hudd (divinely ordained and fixed) offense without provision for pardon. The court looked towards a bench of seven ulema on the question of pardon. Four out of 7 ulema categorically stated that blasphemy was a pardonable offense (i.e. the death penalty is not fixed). The court ignored the majority vote of the bench and went ahead to formulate a legal interpretation that espoused the opposite, making it a hudd offense. (…) My first article documented the original authentic Hanafi position on the penalty for blasphemy i.e. it is not a hudd offense, there is no death penalty for repentant Muslim offenders, no death penalty for non-Muslims and there is a provision of pardon in all cases. Why then, do the religious forces deny or hide this? (…)  We met Fareed Paracha of Jamaat-i-Islami, as well as the president of Tanzeem-i-Islami, Hafiz Akif Saeed (son of Dr Israr Ahmed). After presenting our evidence of the factual inaccuracies from which the current narrative draws its strength, we asked for their opinion. We got the same answer – that it is a matter of maslihat (public good). It is not in the best interest of the public that information like this be openly disseminated. According to them, revealing this will help the mission of the ‘secular agenda’ in the country. On a visit to the Jamia Madania, the chief mufti agreed with all of our research but refused to make it official by giving us a fatwa on the issue of pardon. In fact, both our primary and secondary research shows that the instrument of maslihat is used consistently to misrepresent the classical Hanafi Jurists on the matter. The idea being promoted is that Islam is in a fragile state and under attack, both externally from the West, and internally through growing secular voices. Thus, reverting to the authentic Hanafi position, which resonates with the ‘secular’ demand for clemency and lenience in blasphemy, is tantamount to collusion with this ‘repugnant’ force. The mission then becomes to claim and retain ownership of this religio-political power play, even if it is at the expense of intellectual integrity and human lives.”[34]

Pakistan News.Net: “Pakistan’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal against a Federal Shariat Court (FSC) ruling that death is the only punishment that the Islamic law provides for blasphemy. The Shariat Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court gave the decision on Tuesday, The Dawn reported. Bishop Dani L. Tasleem filed the appeal 18 years ago after the Federal Shariat Court gave the judgment in exercise of its powers to determine if the existing laws conformed to Sharia. Describing the lesser punishments provided for blasphemy in the prevalent law as un-Islamic, the Federal Shariat Court had caused consternation at home and criticism abroad.  In 1991, the Federal Shariat Court while deciding a petition of Mohammad Ismail Qureshi had held that the alternative punishment of life imprisonment provided in Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) was repugnant to the injunctions of Islam. Authored by the then chief justice Gul Mohammad Khan, the Federal Shariat Court had also ordered to send the verdict to the then president to take steps and amend the law to bring it in conformity with injunctions of Islam. In case the action was not taken by April 30, 1991, the words ‘or imprisonment for life’ in Section 295-C should cease to have effect, the judgment had held. The Federal Shariat Court had also directed the government to add a clause to make acts or things said about other prophets an offence with the same punishment. Deputy Attorney-General Agha Tariq Mehmood, who represented the federal government, said that the petition was dismissed because the appellant did not pursue it. Reports suggest that the petitioner is not alive.  In compliance with the Federal Shariat Court judgment, a bill was introduced in the National Assembly during the government of Nawaz Sharif in 1991 to amend the law. ‘The issue is of horrendous importance for the people of Pakistan in the sense that the Federal Shariat Court judgment which remained suspended for quite some time will now be implemented,’ a constitutional expert said.”[35]

 

Evidence: Violation of Constitutional Law

Ahmer Jamil Khan: “Ever since Pakistan became a sovereign state, the issue of human rights has been one of grave importance. The partition of India in the second half of 1947 saw one of the worst massacre, as thousands of individuals were slaughtered, made homeless, raped and abused in the process of migrating to the homeland of their choice. Governments on both sides of the newly drawn borders could not do much to prevent this; they were silent spectators to one of history’s most bloody moments. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1948, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was presented in the United Nations General Assembly; Pakistan was among the 48 states that voted for the adoption of the Declaration. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights passed that year with 48 votes in favor, no votes against it and 8 abstentions. The declaration became an integral part of Pakistan’s constitutions, all three of them, and still is an integral part of the fundamental rights enshrined in, and guaranteed and safeguarded by the current constitution. Pakistan, however has seen much ups and downs in its political arena. The Constitution, when first suspended by the first coup d’état, saw unlawful arrests, exiling of influential political figures, and unreasonable restrictions being imposed upon the citizens, as the Martial Law administrator General Ayub Khan said that he believed in “Democracy with Discipline” (there wasn’t any democracy, just the innocent civilians being disciplined along military lines). During the era of Gen. Yahya Khan, when East Pakistan, now Bangladesh was fighting for its independence and dismemberment of Pakistan, the Pakistan Army committed severe human rights violations, which may be classified as atrocities and war crimes. The army massacred many professors scientists and doctors in the East, and was accused of rape and torturing prisoners to death. Public flogging in Pakistan during the Zia regime – Human Rights Violation? After Prime Minister Bhutto was ousted from office in another coup d’état, and General Zia-ul-Haq took over; the country saw its worst nightmare. The Constitution was ridiculously amended and new laws were promulgated in the process of ‘Islamization’. These new laws, aimed at legitimizing Zia regime, provided the administration far-reaching powers to suppress political activities. Public floggings became a common sight, political parties, trade unions, student unions, all were banned; those who dared to question Zia’s legitimacy or actions were tortured to death. The Hudood ordinances, provided for the punishments of victims of rape, and took away the rights of inheritance of women. After Zia’s era, the Constitution was abrogated twice by Gen Musharraf, however this did not accompany large-scale human rights violation. Musharraf’s attempts to control the judiciary backfired, and the protests eventually lead to Musharraf leaving the country, and the presidency.  The situation has improved greatly since. General elections were held in Pakistan in 2008, that saw the coming of a democratic government, which introduced the Constitution 18th Amendment act 2010, which reversed many of Zia-ul-Haq’s changes (…). Much has still to be done; prisoners are still being tortured in jails, child molestation is still taking place in underdeveloped urban areas of Pakistan, according to UNICEF reports. More Police Brutality – you just cannot stand up against injustice. Pakistan, although has a democratic government, there are still incidents of human rights violation by the government. The Pakistani constitution, for example, guarantees the right to freedom of expression, subject to “reasonable restrictions imposed by law in order to protect the glory of Islam…”. This provision is being used as a tool to impose censorship on media and access to Internet. (…) This action of censorship, in my humble opinion, is violation of an individual’s freedom of speech, expression, choice and right to information as granted by the universal declaration of human rights and the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and law. The government has also failed to protect the right of life of its citizens;”[36]

 

Evidence: Violation of Women’s Rights

FIDH: “Protect women’s rights. Women continue to be victims of widespread discrimination and violence in Pakistan. Legal reforms have been limited. Although the 1979 Hudood Ordinance has been partly revised, deeply discriminatory provisions remain. The criminalization of rape victims, accused of adultery (zina), remains a serious concern and many women are thus unwilling to report crimes of sexual violence to the police. Inadequate measures have been taken to implement laws aimed at protecting women’s rights, including the Protection Against Harassment at Workplace Act adopted in 2010. There are increasing barriers to girls’ access to education, including violent attacks by non-state armed groups deliberately targeting girls. These acts are carried out with complete impunity. The attempted murder of 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on October 9th 2012 for speaking out in favour of girls’ right to education, is unfortunately only one terrible example of such violence. The government has failed to take measures to fight violence against women and girls, including sexual exploitation and “honour killings”. Tribal courts (jirgas) continue to issue highly discriminatory judgements against women. The Government of Pakistan should: − Repeal all discriminatory laws, including provisions that enable perpetrators of so-called “honour crimes” to escape punishment. − Take necessary measures to enforce legislation passed by the outgoing National Assembly aimed at increasing protection for women’s rights, such as the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Act (2011). − Take measures to establish a unified judicial system, and eliminate all parallel legal systems and informal dispute resolution mechanisms which discriminate against women; make the public more sensitive on the importance of addressing violations of women’s rights through judicial remedies rather than parallel justice systems. − Take urgent measures to increase access to education and employment for women and girls.”[37]

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: “Economic, social and cultural rights. (…) In its 2017 review, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights noted that more than 73% of workers, a majority of them women, were in the informal economy with no labour or social protection. The Committee called on Pakistan to address the gender pay gap, which rose from 34% in 2008 to 39% in 2015. The Committee also noted an urgent need to increase spending in the social sector, especially for health and education. It further stated that adequate steps must be taken to reduce the gap between girls and boys in enrolment for education. (…)Women’s rights. Key legislation to protect women’s rights failed to be passed and existing legislation was not enforced. The draft Sindh Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) that criminalized forced conversions of women from religious minority groups remained unratified. A bill that would have equalized the age of consent to marriage for men and women by raising the minimum age of marriage for girls from 16 to 18 was blocked by the upper house of Parliament. (…) Violence continued against women and girls, including killings by relatives committed in the name of so-called “honour”. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa northwest province, 94 women were murdered by close family members. In several cases, there was a failure to conduct investigations and hold the perpetrators accountable. Parallel and informal justice systems continued to undermine the rule of law and to issue unjust “verdicts” that punished women and girls. In July, a village council in Multan district ordered and carried out the rape of a teenage girl in “revenge” for a crime allegedly committed by her brother. In August, the bodies of a teenage couple in Karachi were exhumed to reveal evidence of electric shocks. The couple had been sentenced to death by a jirga (tribal council). In September, a man in Peshawar city killed his two daughters because he suspected they had boyfriends. The 2016 law, which brought the penalties for so-called “honour” crimes in line with murder, proved ineffective. The law, which provides for the death penalty, allows the judge to decide whether the crime was “honour-based”. In some cases in 2017, the accused successfully claimed another motive and was pardoned by the victim’s family under qisas and diyat laws, which allow for “blood money” and forgiveness instead of punishment.”[38]

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: “Women’s and Girls’ Rights. Child marriage remains a serious concern in Pakistan, with 21 percent of girls marrying before the age of 18. In January 2016, a proposal submitted to parliament by WHOM aimed to raise the legal minimum age to 18 for females and introduce harsher penalties for those who arrange child marriage. However, on January 14, 2016, the proposal was withdrawn following strong pressure from the Council of Islamic Ideology, a body that advises the parliament on Islamic law. The council criticized the proposal as “anti-Islamic” and “blasphemous.” Violence against women and girls—including rape, murder through so-called honor killings, acid attacks, domestic violence, and forced marriage—remained routine. Pakistani human rights NGOs estimate that there are about 1,000 “honor killings” every year. The government continued to fail to address forced conversions of women belonging to Hindu and Christian communities. In June, Zeenat Rafiq, 18, was burned to death in Lahore by her mother for “bringing shame to the family” by marrying a man of her choosing. In May, family members tortured and burned to death a 19-year-old school teacher in Murree, Punjab, for refusing an arranged marriage. In May, the body of Amber, 16, was found inside a vehicle that had been set on fire in Abbottabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, after a jirga, or traditional assembly of elders, ordered her death for helping her friend marry of her own choice. In July, Qandeel Baloch, a well-known Pakistani model was killed by her brother in a so-called honor killing. Pakistani law allows the family of a murder victim to pardon the perpetrator. This practice is often used in cases of “honor” killings, where the victim and perpetrator frequently belong to the same family, in order to evade prosecution. The 2004 Criminal Law (Amendment) Act made “honor killings” a criminal offense, but the law remains poorly enforced. An anti-honor killing bill seeking to eliminate the option of murder committed in the name of “honor” to be “forgiven” was passed by the parliament in October. (…) Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Pakistan’s penal code criminalizes sexual behavior between men with possible life imprisonment. (…) In a widely publicized case in May, Alisha, a 23-year-old transgender activist, was shot eight times in Peshawar, and died in hospital while staff debated whether to put her in the male or female ward. In September, the National Commission for Human Rights called on the government to investigate the attacks.” [39]

Saroop Ijaz: “Pakistan Should End Child Marriage. Pakistan’s Senate chose to mark the United Nations International Day of the Girl Child this week in an unusual way: by rejecting a bill that would have raised the minimum age for girls to marry from 16 to 18. The grounds for rejection? Apparently the proposed amendment was “contrary to religious injunctions,” said the Senate Standing Committee on Interior. The UN children’s fund says 21 percent of Pakistani girls are married by the age of 18, and 3 percent before 15. Child marriage tends to occur in the country’s most marginalized and vulnerable communities, and has devastating consequences. Children who marry find their childhoods cut short and their education abandoned, as girls take on housework and boys struggle to provide for families they are too young to have. Married children become parents too soon, and girls face serious health risks, including death, due to early pregnancy. Married girls are also at higher risk of domestic violence, including marital rape, than women who marry later. So why is Pakistan dragging its feet? The current law sets the legal age of marriage at 16 for girls and 18 for boys, which violates Pakistan’s obligations under international law in two ways: first by permitting marriage too early, and secondly by setting different marriage ages for girls and boys. But even this law is rarely enforced, as the Pakistani courts often interpret Sharia (Islamic law) instead, which allows any girl who has gone through puberty to marry. Some provincial governments have legislated on this issue to try to improve matters, setting higher minimum ages for marriage and harsher penalties for those who arrange or conduct child marriages. But Sharia law is still preferred by the Pakistani courts. The Pakistani government needs to prohibit underage marriage, and remove the confusion between religious interpretations and federal and provincial laws. Pakistani girls need equality, decent education, and good health care. They don’t need husbands. On the International Day of the Girl, Pakistan’s parliament failed its girls once again.”[40]

 

Evidence: Attacks against human rights defenders

Malik Siraj Akbar: “On December 13, 2012, the Pakistan army described an Amnesty International report, The Hands of Cruelty, as “a pack of lies“ when the London-based international human rights watchdog exposed the involvement of security forces in widespread human rights violations in the country’s tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. On February 2nd, the Pakistan army once again used its favorite ‘a pack of lies” phrase to reject the Human Right Watch (H.R.W.) World Report 2013. The Pakistan section of the report has blamed the Pakistan army for committing human rights abuses in the country’s largest province of Balochistan and assisting Islamic extremist groups that attack Shia Muslims and other religious minorities. The army says the H.R.W. report is “propaganda driven and totally biased” which is “yet another attempt to malign Pakistan and its institutions through fabricated and unverified reports, completely favouring an anti-Pakistan agenda.” Before explaining why the Pakistani military reacts so furiously to allegations of human rights abuse, it is important to understand the level of influence the military enjoys in the Pakistani State. Unlike most democratic countries of the world, the army in Pakistan in reality is not under the control of the civilian government. The military closely scrutinizes the performance of the elected government and makes sure that the civilian authorities do not question or undermine the economic interests and political power of the army.  Also, the army continuously tries to make sure that it remains absolutely immune to any kind of criticism, allegations and accountability for any reasons. Over the years, the military, with the help of the right-wing political parties and the media, has developed a state narrative that depicts the army as the most disciplined organization in the country. The rare occasion when the army’s ego is shattered when nonpartisan international groups bring into public attention the wrongdoings of what otherwise remains an uncontested military. So, what contents in the H.R.W. report irritated the Pakistan army?  Considering its overwhelming influence on almost every sphere of the state, the army has been blamed for rights abuses on a number of fronts. For instance, H.R.W. observed that: Pakistan’s government has failed to act against abuses by the security and intelligence agencies, which continued to allow extremist groups to attack religious minorities… the authorities did little to address attacks against journalists and human rights defenders, and committed serious abuses in counter-terrorism operations. In the mineral-rich Balochistan, where ethnic Balochs are seeking maximum fiscal and administrative autonomy, the H.R.W. said it had “recorded continued enforced disappearances and killing of suspected Baloch nationalists and militants by the military and affiliated agencies.” In addition, the H.R.W. has drawn attention to the “links between Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies with extremist groups.” The organization observed that at least 400 members of the Shia Muslims, including 125 in Balochistan, were killed in 2012 in attacks perpetrated by Sunni Muslim extremist groups. These groups are suspected to have deep connections with the country’s army. In 2012, Pakistan, according to the H.R.W., remained “unable or unwilling” to dismantle these networks of terror: Sunni militant groups, including those with known links to the Pakistani military, its intelligence agencies, and affiliated paramilitaries, such as the ostensibly banned Lashkar-e Jhangvi, operated openly across Pakistan, as law enforcement officials turned a blind eye to attacks. The government took no significant action to protect those under threat or to hold extremists accountable.  Instead of providing an honest account of its covert operations, the Pakistan army said the H.R.W. “has no credibility and has been criticized worldwide for raising controversies through its biased reports and funding from certain quarters.” For Pakistan, reports that highlight the security forces’ involvement in rights violations are a “clear attempt to further fuel already ongoing sectarian violence and to create chaos and disorder in Pakistan.” The Pakistan military does not solely suffice with rebuttals. It oftentimes turns unimaginably nasty against those who question its authority. In this case, the H.R.W.’s Pakistan Director Ali Dayan Hasan, a widely respected human rights defender, has become the focus of a malicious and misleading campaign in the national media. The military has unleashed a media trial of Mr. Hasan with the help of Pakistan’s largest media group, the Jang, questioning his integrity and even patriotism to the extent that it now raises genuine concerns about his personal safety and that of his family. The News International, an English language newspaper published by the Jang media group, has become a tool in the hands of the military in the extremely dangerous campaign against Mr. Hasan. Last year, the newspaper bullied the human rights activist so much that it even published his U.S., Pakistan and London U.K. telephone numbers. This was a clear violation of journalistic standards but the newspaper apparently did so in order to encourage Islamic fundamentalists to directly threaten him on the phone numbers printed in the newspaper. (…) On February 24, 2014, the Citizens for Free and Responsible Media, a group of professional Pakistani journalists, sent a letter to the publisher and top editors of the News International, to express “our dismay at the unethical and false reporting in your paper … that is not only inaccurate and based on lies, but also endangers the life and safety of a Pakistani citizen.” One year later, the newspaper still continues to publish unsubstantiated personal attacks against Mr. Hasan which seem to be caused by the reporter’s personal dislike for the H.R.W.’s Pakistan head. (…)  Reports issued by H.R.W. and other international think-tanks and human rights groups are professional analyses of different countries. It is absolutely irresponsible and unethical to respond to such criticism with personal attacks on individual professionals affiliated with these organizations. It amounts to shooting the messenger. In a countries like Pakistan Mr. Hasan is a rare breed of bravery and hope for millions of citizens who want their rights to be respected and protected by their government. Human rights activists and journalists in Pakistan risk their lives on a daily basis to speak up for the citizens’ democratic rights and Pakistan’s largest media outlet should appreciate courageous Pakistan rights activists, such as Mr. Hasan, instead of endangering their lives.”[41]

FIDH: “Protect human rights defenders and journalists. HRCP and FIDH are extremely concerned by the growing insecurity of human rights defenders and journalists investigating human rights violations in Pakistan. HRCP has lost three district coordinators in 2011, namely Siddique Eido, who was abducted by men in security agency uniforms, Naeem Sabir in Balochistan, and Zarteef Afridi, who was killed in Khyber Agency. On February 2nd, 2013, Malik Jarar, HRCP’s council member and member of the Shia community, was shot dead by unknown assailants. On March 13th, 2013, Ms Perveen Rehman, a highly respected social activist working vigorously for the emancipation of the poor and marginalised people in Karachi through the “Orangi Pilot Project”, was also brutally shot dead by unknown assailants. Sixteen journalists were killed in 2011, at least ten in 2012. Pakistan ranks third most dangerous country for journalists. Five journalists have already been killed since the beginning of 2013, the latest being Malik Mumtaz, killed on February 27th in Miranshah, South Waziristan. The Government of Pakistan should: − Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Pakistan. − Carry out an effective, thorough, and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned killings, abductions, threats and attacks, in order to identify all those responsible; bring them before a civil, competent, and impartial tribunal; and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by Pakistani law and in line with international human rights law. − Conform in all circumstances to the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9th, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular: • Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels.” • Article 6 (c), which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters.” • Article 12.2, which states that the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”[42]

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: “Human rights defenders. Bloggers, journalists, lawyers, activists and other human rights defenders faced harassment, intimidation, threats, violence and enforced disappearance. The five bloggers who were forcibly disappeared and activists who campaigned for their release were subject to a smear campaign accusing them of being “blasphemers”, “anti-Pakistan”, “anti-Army” and “anti-Islam”. Human rights defenders criticized on television and on social media faced death threats, forcing some to self-censor and to seek protection for their physical safety. In May, Rana Tanveer, a journalist covering abuses against religious minorities, found death threats sprayed on his home in Lahore city. A few weeks later, he was knocked off his motorbike and severely injured after a car deliberately crashed into him. In September, Matiullah Jan, a journalist who had regularly been critical of the military’s interference in politics, was attacked by men on motorbikes who hurled a large piece of concrete at the car in which he was travelling with his children, shattering the windscreen. In October, Ahmad Noorani, an outspoken political journalist, was attacked by men on motorbikes who stopped his car and beat him, including with iron rods. At the end of the year no one was known to have been held accountable for any of these attacks. Defenders continued to be subjected to enforced disappearances, but some also reappeared. Raza Khan, a Lahore-based peace activist, was subjected to an enforced disappearance in December. Punhal Sario, a campaigner against enforced disappearances in Sindh province, went missing in August. He returned home in October. Zeenat Shahzadi, the first female journalist to be forcibly disappeared, was found near the Afghanistan border in October, 26 months after she went missing in Lahore. She disappeared again in November; her whereabouts remained unknown at the end of the year. In October and November, dozens of Sindhi and Baloch defenders were subjected to enforced disappearances by Pakistani security forces. Some returned to their homes days later, but others remained missing at the end of the year. Space for civil society continued to shrink as the Interior Ministry used broad powers to undermine the ability of human rights defenders and NGOs to work independently. In November, the Ministry of the Interior ordered 29 international NGOs to halt their operations and leave the country within days.”[43]

 

Evidence: Forced Disappearances, Torture and Extrajudicial Executions

UNPO: “Apr 13, 2017. UNPO is pleased to present its new report: “From Occupied Gilgit-Baltistan to Gwadar: Human Rights in Pakistan”. From enforced disappearances to extrajudicial killings, torture, the persecution of activists, violence against children and women, evictions without compensation and non-observance of the rights to fair trial or to freedom of speech and assembly, Pakistan has been systematically violating international law. UNPO’s latest report sheds light on how the human rights situation for ethnic and religious minorities in Pakistan has regrettably not improved in recent years, especially for those living in Sindh, Balochistan, and Pakistan-occupied Gilgit-Baltistan. While Pakistan currently enjoys immense tariff benefits from the European Union under the GSP+ framework, Islamabad’s abysmal failure to implement the necessary human rights conventions remains a serious concern for the protection of the country’s minorities. For over sixty years, Pakistan-occupied Gilgit-Baltistan has had neither political autonomy nor a working legal system to provide human rights protection for its indigenous peoples, resulting in constant human rights violations, slow economic development and growing sectarian violence. In Balochistan and Sindh, ethnic and religious minorities endure severe persecution by state forces and terrorists. These communities are repeatedly targeted by the controversial and often misapplied Blasphemy and Anti-Terrorism Laws, while the moratorium on the death penalty has been lifted. In addition, local indigenous communities have not been given voice in the decision-making processes of mega-development projects, such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), despite being directly affected by these projects. Many have faced evictions without compensation; these ventures pose a severe threat to their environment, natural resources and cultural heritage.  Under the GSP+ framework (Special Incentive Arrangement for Sustainable Development and Good Governance), trade incentives make the European Union a major stakeholder in Pakistan. Respect for human rights – more specifically, the ratification and effective implementation of 27 international conventions – is a central requirement for GSP+, which grants removal of tariffs on multiple products. In light of the worrying situation on the ground, UNPO urges the European Union to take a firm stand regarding its relations with Pakistan, reminding the country of its obligations under international law and condemning the illegal occupation of Gilgit-Baltistan. While the European Commission acknowledges the gross violations in the country, it is necessary to ensure that the Pakistani authorities take concrete action and to call for an immediate halt to human rights violations, of which minorities are the main victims.”[44]

FIDH: “Summary executions, torture and enforced disappearance are prohibited international law under all circumstances. HRCP’s recent investigations in the province of Balochistan revealed State responsibility in many cases of enforced disappearance, as well as inappropriate government response to the many grievances of the people of Balochistan. Up to 14,000 individuals remain missing in the province, according to reports from Voice of Missing Baloch. The Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearance had received 999 cases as of February 28th, 2013; however the commission still lacks authority and resources. Illegal detention and ill-treatment during detention remain widespread, especially in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Pakistan’s claim to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as full member sends a negative message in this regard, since the core values of the SCO are to merge the fight against “terrorism, separatism and extremism” in a way that has, in the past, lead to numerous human rights violations, including the forced deportation of people at risk of persecution and being subjected to unfair trials in their home country. . The Government of Pakistan should: − In line with the government’s commitment to effectively implement the recommendations made by UN Member States during its last UPR and to fully cooperate with UN Special Procedures, take effective measures against enforced disappearances by strengthening the Commission of Inquiry and implement all of the recommendations formulated by the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances in its last report on Pakistan, in particular the recommendation to include a new and autonomous crime of enforced disappearances in the Criminal Code. − Ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.”[45]

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: “(The mandate of military courts to try civilian “terrorism” suspects was extended for a further two years. Reports continued that security forces were involved in human rights violations, including torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary detention, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances. Impunity remained in the absence of independent, impartial mechanisms to investigate and bring perpetrators to justice. While the number of attacks by armed groups fell in 2017, scores of people died in bombings that targeted the security forces, religious minorities and others.”[46]

BBC: “Nearly 1,000 dead bodies of political activists and suspected armed separatists have been found in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province over the past six years. Activists say the figures, obtained from the human rights ministry by BBC Urdu, point to large-scale extrajudicial killings. Relatives say most victims had been picked up by security agencies. The government blames the dumped bodies on infighting among insurgent groups. Thousands of people have disappeared without trace in Balochistan since a separatist insurgency gained momentum in 2007. A military-led operation was launched in early 2005 aimed at wiping out the uprising by ethnic Baloch groups, who are fighting for a greater share of the province’s resources. According to the Federal Ministry of Human Rights, at least 936 dead bodies have been found in Balochistan since 2011. Most of them were dumped in the regions of Quetta, Qalat, Khuzdar and Makran – areas where the separatist insurgency has its roots. One of the more prominent cases of “kill-and-dump” is that of Jalil Reki, a political activist who lived in the Saryab neighbourhood of Quetta. He was arrested at his residence in 2009, and his body was found two years later in the Mand area near the Iranian border, some 1,100km (680 miles) south of Quetta. “They came to our house in three vehicles. These were the vehicles of agencies. They took away Jalil,” his mother told the BBC. “The police did not take our report. Our male relatives later approached the then chief minister’s office, but we could not get any response. Two years later some people found his body in Mand. He had one bullet in the head and three in the chest. His arms were fractured and there were cigarette burns on his back.” Relatives of the victims believe the number may be higher. The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) says it has recorded 1,200 cases of dumped bodies and there are many more it has not been able to document. Nasrullah Baloch, the head of VBMP, told the BBC most of the bodies “are of those activists who have been victims of ‘enforced disappearances’ – people who are picked up by authorities and then just go missing.” His allegations chime with an independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) report in 2013 that noted “credible reports of continued serious human rights violations, including [enforced] disappearances of people, arbitrary arrests, torture and extrajudicial killings“. (…) There have been frequent protests by relatives of the victims and Baloch nationalist organisations over the years, while many have fled to foreign countries or safer locations within Pakistan. Naveed Baloch, who was briefly held by the German police for the 19 December truck killings in Berlin, left Pakistan in February to “escape persecution” in his village in Mand region. An activist of a nationalist party, he was arrested and tortured by Pakistani forces in Balochistan last year, and more recently his home in the village was raided again, his cousin, Waheed Baloch, told BBC Urdu.”[47]

LAWRENCE SELLIN: “Around 2008, Shafiq Mengal organized a pro-government tribal militia known as the Baloch Musallah Difa Tanzim, which was considered a pawn of the ISI and an instrument of the Pakistani government to suppress the Balochistan independence movement. Mengals’s group soon degenerated into local vigilantes, accused of acid attacks on women and killing people for political as well as non-political, tribal or personal reasons. That included the alleged torture and murder of up to 169 people, whose mostly unidentified remains were found in a mass grave in Tootak, north of Khuzdar in January 2014. It is important to note, that Mengal remained closely associated with the Pakistani government even participating as a featured speaker at the National Defence University conference on Balochistan held July 17-18, 2012. Mengal has provided protection to Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives in Balochistan and was known as a subcontractor of the intensely anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a Sunni-Deobandi supremacist group and a formal affiliate of al Qaeda. A local Balochistan publication claimed that Mengal spent three months with ISIS in Syria before returning in September of 2016. In the wake of the Pakistani government crackdown on domestic terrorist groups, Mengal took advantage of the power vacuum created in LeJ to become one of the leading lights of the LeJ splinter group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami (LeJ-A), who, together with ISIS, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and killing of two Chinese nationals in Quetta, Balochistan in May 2017.”[48]

Namrata Brar: “Pakistan Killed 5,000 people; 20,000 Missing, Say Baloch Activists. (…) As the United Nations General Assembly started, a group of Balochistan activists protested outside its headquarters in New York against Pakistan’s human right violations in the region. They claimed that since (year) 2000, more than 5,000 activists have been tortured and killed and more than 20,000 were missing. NDTV spoke with Farzana Majeed, an activist whose brother Zakir Majeed, a student leader, has been missing since 2009. “My brother was abducted by Pakistan intelligence agencies and we still do not have any idea of where he is. I have been asking Pakistan for my brother’s whereabouts for the last seven years, but instead of giving me justice, they threatened me,” Ms Majeed said. The woman, who acquired political asylum in December 2015, said her fight was not just for her brother, “but for thousands like him”. “I want my answers from the UN,” she added. A Baloch torture survivor who did not want his identity revealed since he faces death threats, said he considers himself one of the lucky ones. For two months, he said, he was shut in a 6X4 ft cell with 3 other people. They were not allowed to go out for even basic needs. “I was tortured every night and it continued till we fell unconscious. We stopped eating so we could lose our consciousness earlier. Many of my friends’ bodies were brought home with ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ and ‘Gaddar’ carved on their chests with cigarette marks,” he said. He said he had been repeatedly asked if he was “an Indian agent“. “I made one trip to India in 2004, they kept asking me if I had links to the Indian government. In their eyes, anyone who is raising his voice for Balochistan’s freedom or protesting against human rights abuse is a RAW agent,” he added. Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Indian leader to publicly support Baluchistan, but the US said it will support Pakistan on the issue. On Tuesday, US State Department Spokesman John Kirby told reporters: “The government policy is that we support the territorial integrity of Pakistan and we do not support independence for Baluchistan”. Aziz Baloch, the organiser for Free Balochistan Movement told NDTV that he believes there is more US support for his cause than is publicly said.  “Several senators are being briefed” on this and in the months to come, Baloch leaders intend to “fight their case on international tribunals,” he added.”[49]

Tribune: “Around 21,000 people have gone missing in Balochistan, claims Baloch activist Mama Qadeer, adding that they had received 6,000 mutilated bodies to date. “Why are political parties silent on the issue of Balochistan?” Qadeer was speaking at a press conference held by the Baloch student organisation Azad and Baloch Voice of Missing Persons (BVMP) at Karachi Press Club on Thursday. “The 13 people killed by the Frontier Corps (FC) in Turbat on Monday were not militants but nationalists, who were kidnapped by some agencies some time ago,” he alleged. “The FC claims that they killed militants but these were extrajudicial killings.” About the killings of 20 labourers, including Sindhis, in Turbat on Saturday, he said that the Baloch Liberation Army was not involved in the incident. The agencies killed them in order to create differences between the Baloch and Sindhi people.”[50]

Karlos Zurutuza: “‘We Are Suffering Genocide at the Hands of Pakistan’: An Interview with BLF Commander Allah Nazar. (…) The Baloch inhabit a troubled area, which crosses the borders of Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. It is a vast swathe of land the size of France, which boasts enormous deposits of gas, gold, and copper, untapped sources of oil and uranium, as well as a highly strategic coastline that spreads over 600 miles near the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz. In August 1947, the Baloch declared independence, but nine months later the Pakistani army marched into Balochistan and annexed it, sparking an insurgency that has lasted, intermittently, until today. There are between six and seven Baloch insurgent groups conducting guerrilla warfare in southern Pakistan today. All are markedly secular, and share a common agenda for an independent Balochistan. (…) “The war began in 1948, but Pakistan has increased its intensity in the last 14 years through brutal methods, such as the ‘kill and dump’,” explained Nazar, a former physician who is today one of the most visible faces of the Baloch liberation movement as a whole. During a hearing at the UN’s Human Rights Council in March, T. Kumar, the international advocacy director at Amnesty International USA, accused the government of Pakistan of sponsoring a “systematic policy of enforced disappearances, torture, and executions on Baloch people.” Kumar also denounced the silence of the international community over the issue. In August 2014, the International Commission of Jurists, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch called on the Pakistan’s government “to stop the deplorable practice of state agencies abducting hundreds of people throughout the country without providing information about their fate or whereabouts.” The exact number of the disappeared is still unknown, as it is impossible to conduct a study in the area. However, The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, a group that advocates for peaceful protest founded by some of the families of the disappeared, puts the number of people from Balochistan since 2000 at around 20,000. Nazar speaks of the disappeared, but he points to thousands of internally displaced by “either Pakistani army operations military or deportation policies.” “Only during the month of April, the army has burned more than 200 houses in Mashkay [Nazar’s native region], and killed 25 innocent Baluch,” he claims. (…)“Without going any further, over 40,000 people living in the villages alongside the highway have been forced to leave.” Nazar calls on “all those multinationals trying to settle and steal the resources of Balochistan on behalf of colonial empires” to cease their activities, and repeats that the Baloch Liberation Movement will continue defending their land from “aggression of any kind.” (…) “The army and the Pakistani intelligence services are to blame for the growth of radical Islam in Baluchistan. On the one hand, it´s a way to divert attention from our national claims and our legitimate struggle; on the other hand, they´re using these radicals to fight against and destroy our movement,” Nazar said. The commander adds that Pakistani security forces are sponsoring up to six training camps in Balochistan where Islamic State (IS) recruits are allegedly being trained. “Their presence in our streets is so overwhelming that they even delver pamphlets calling for recruitment,” he said. (…) Nazar says that he doesn’t want to finish our interview without sending an SOS message to the rest of the world. “We want the civilized world to know that we are suffering genocide at the hands of Pakistan,” he said. We want international organizations to understand this and act accordingly.”[51]

Marc Tarabella (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, Belgium): “During the last few months we have been receiving reports from Pakistan which depict an alarming situation regarding the protection of human rights. Balochistan has been one of the areas which has been most affected by violence in Pakistan. The main victims of this violence are the people of Balochistan who are being systematically targeted by paramilitary groups, allegedly sponsored by the Pakistani authorities. Extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances are the most common practices. In an 8 December 2005 statement, the then Pakistani interior minister Aftab Sherpao said that 4000 Baloch were in the custody of the authorities. The figures of those killed after abduction collated from newspaper reports exceed 2000, with the Baloch themselves saying the number of people missing is more than 20,000. Mass graves were discovered in Tutak in January 2014 and, despite the fact that an investigative committee was formed, no one has yet been prosecuted for these crimes. At the same time many atrocities are currently being committed in Balochistan by security forces. The recent visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping to Pakistan and his promise to pump €40bn into projects in the Gwadar-Kashgar energy corridor could, according to the local population, endanger the lives of the people of Balochistan and the protection of their fundamental freedoms. To ensure absolute control over natural resources, the authorities have been cracking down on all dissent in this region. Sabeen Mahmud, a human and social rights activist, took the initiative of organising a seminar on the situation in Balochistan. Just minutes after the event ended Sabeen was killed by gunmen at a traffic signal while her mother was injured. This served as a clear message to all those that dare to speak out about the situation in Balochistan. Furthermore, representatives from Baloch civil society are being prevented from leaving Pakistan, having been placed on the exit control list. NGOs are also being targeted, with Save The Children the latest victim of the authorities, who shut down the organisation and demanded that all foreign personnel and volunteers leave the country. It is the people of Balochistan and Pakistanis that suffer the most from these abuses. It is they who are being deprived of their freedoms and the opportunity for development and prosperity in their country. To the locals there is fundamental difference in the way that the authorities and the Baloch people view the future of Balochistan. The Pakistani government sees it as land ripe for financial exploitation and brimming with opportunities for its elite. The Baloch see Balochistan as their motherland which has given them their identity, culture, history and way of life; they know that without their land they will lose all meaning as a people. The European Union on its part cannot remain silent to what is happening in Balochistan. The Pakistani government has signed numerous treaties, commitments to the implementation of the protection of human rights in Pakistan. Yet no real progress is being made and it appears that there is deterioration rather than improvement. We need to show commitment to our principles and use them as guidance in every aspect of our relations with the Pakistani government.”[52]

Ludovica Iaccino: “Balochistan: ‘Hundreds of people abducted and murdered by Pakistan army’ activists warn. Baloch activists are urging rights groups and the international community to pay attention to the situation of people living in the Balochistan province, western Pakistan. According to some members of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP) – a democratic and secular organisation that aims to repel Pakistani occupation and regain sovereignty in Balochistan –Balcoh people are persecuted, abducted and systematically killed by Pakistani security agencies and the Pakistani Army. Ashraf Sherjan, president of the BRP Germany Chapter, has warned that Balochs are haunted by what he calls “Pakistani kill-and-dump-policy intelligence agencies and armed forces.” Speaking to IBTimes UK, he said: “Since Balochistan was forcefully occupied by Pakistan, Baloch people have been living as guests of death.” It has never been considered, even outside Pakistan, that Balochistan belongs to the Baloch people who are now haunted. Baloch leaders are being deliberately assassinated by the occupying state of Pakistan for demanding rights to their own land. Sherjan then cited the case of Baloch leader Shaheed Nawab Akbar Bugti, who was attacked and killed along with his tribesmen in 2006. (…) During an armed struggle erupted in 2004, Balochistan’s leader Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed by the Pakistani government, which accused him of being a warlord and using the Balochistan Liberation Army as a facade to run his own militia. (…) “It would take days to mention the names of the thousands of Baloch political activists, leaders and students who were killed,” Sherjan said. Black month. Baloch activists refer to March as a “black month” for Balochistan history as in two separate occasions during the month, Balochistan was first invaded and then bombarded. “On 27 March 1948 Pakistan invaded Balochistan and coerced the Baloch ruler to sign a so-called ‘accession treaty’ after the Baloch Parliament had rejected the offer to join Pakistan on the basis of shared religion,” Sherjan said. “On 17 March 2005, Pakistani paramilitary forces bombarded the entire city of Dera Bugti. More than 70 people, the majority of whom were women and children, were killed and nearly 200 were injured.” People abducted and killed. In 2011, Human Rights Watch released a report documenting rights abuses committed by the Pakistani government against people in Balochistan. The group urged Pakistan to end “widespread disappearances of suspected militants and activists by the military, intelligence agencies, and the paramilitary Frontier Corps in the south-western province of Balochistan“. The report detailed 45 alleged cases of enforced disappearances – the majority occurred in 2009 and 2010 – and warned that some of the people who were abducted were also executed. According to Sherjan, the policy of abducting and killing Baloch people still continues today. “Many bodies have been found with amputated limbs in various areas across Balochistan and in Karachi. This inhumane practice continues to date and families of enforced-disappeared Balochs report that more than 20,000 Balochs have disappeared since current Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf took power in 1999,” he said. Baloch activist and president of the BRP Germany Chapter Ashraf Sherjan during a protest to shed light on human rights abuses in Balochistan (Ashraf Sherjan). “In January 2014 three mass graves were discovered in the Tootak area of Khuzdar district in Balochistan. The graves contained at least 169 bodies. Only three of the persons have been identified as previously abducted persons who were picked up from their homes by Pakistani paramilitary forces. The rest of the bodies could not be identified because they were mutilated beyond recognition. The military quickly cut off all access to the graves and took control of the remaining bodies so no further forensic identification work was possible.” Sherjan also urged the Norway government and the international community to shed light on the fate of Ehsan Arjemandi, a Norway national allegedly abducted in 2009, while he was on his way to Karachi from Balochistan. “He has not been heard from or seen in public since then. The Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, is believed to be responsible for the abduction. I urge the human rights organisation including the European Union and United Nations to take notice of Balochistan’s situation and play their moral role in ending human rights violations before it’s too late.”[53]

DAWN: “After having remained silent during three years of self-imposed exile, Balochistan’s former chief minister Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal finally spoke his mind in the Supreme Court on Thursday and described enforced disappearances as the real cause of the current unrest in Balochistan. Why should not we divorce peacefully rather than seeking for a bloody divorce if the rulers have decided to keep on giving us mutilated dead bodies,” Sardar Mengal said before a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain. The bench had taken up a petition of former president of the Balochistan High Court Bar Association Hadi Shakeel on the law and order situation, target killings, kidnappings for ransom and missing persons in the province. The court indicated to close the present proceedings and issue a binding injunction asking a responsible senior officer to recover all missing persons. Sardar Mengal, president of the Balochistan National Party, came from London to especially apprise people of the issues responsible for the breakdown of law and order in the restive province. In his distinctive demeanour, Sardar Mengal recorded a brief, but to-the-point, statement before the bench in Urdu in which he pointed fingers straight at the rulers and senior military leaders for the overall economic downturn of the country in general and Balochistan in particular. Six-point charter. The estranged Baloch leader also presented a six-point charter and said it was imperative for the government to take practical steps to implement the measures to create an appropriate atmosphere for Baloch reconciliation process and initiate a meaningful process of conflict resolution. According to the charter, all covert and overt military operations against Baloch people should be ended immediately; all missing persons should be procured before a court of law; all proxy death squads operating in a manner like Al Shams and Al Badar operated (in Bangladesh) allegedly under the supervision of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) should be disbanded; Baloch political parties should be allowed to function and resume their political activities without any interference from intelligence agencies; persons responsible for inhuman torture, killing and dumping of bodies of Baloch political leaders and activists should be brought to justice; and measures should be initiated for rehabilitation of thousands of displaced Baloch living in appalling condition. The situation in Balochistan was worse than in Kashmir or Palestine, Sardar Mengal claimed. Tracing the history of missing persons’ phenomenon, he said the first such incident had taken place in 1976 when his younger brother Asadullah Mengal was abducted from Karachi along with his friend Ahmed Shah Baloch. “Nobody knows why they were picked up, on what charges and who were responsible for arresting them and where they were buried. Now we have heard that their tortured bodies were either buried in Thatta (Sindh) or in Kashmir. Had such tendencies been checked then, today we would not have been facing a huge number of missing person cases,” he said. He also narrated how he had remained incarcerated for 16 months for launching a political rally in 2006 for which he had to suffer when some MI sleuths tried to kidnap his children but were caught red-handed. (…) “For the first time after 65 years of injustice, we have seen a ray of hope in the shape of present court proceedings,” he said, adding that the chronic issue of missing persons should end now. He regretted that the Baloch had suffered five military operations and said the announcement of general amnesty, development packages or apologising with the people of Balochistan would not heal or ameliorate the sufferings endured by them over the past 65 years. (…) Baloch nationalists are being eliminated and instead of giving representation to true representatives, manufactured leaders are being installed.”[54]

Stanly Johny: “Prime Minister Narendra (of India) (…) had said, “The time has come for Pakistan to answer the world, on atrocities against people in Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.” (…) When Pakistan was born in 1947, the rulers of the Khanate of Kalat, which was a princely state under the British and part of today’s Balochistan, refused to join the new nation. Pakistan sent troops in March 1948 to annex the territory. Though Yar Khan, the then ruler of Kalat, later signed a treaty of accession, his brothers and followers continued to fight, triggering the first conflict between Balochis and the Pakistani Army. So far, there were five waves of insurgencies. After the 1948 rebellion was put down, crisis erupted in 1958. In 1962-63 and 1973-77, there were violent campaigns by the Baloch nationalists for independence from Pakistan . (…)Every time there’s unrest in the region, the Pakistani Army used brute force to retain order. Even the Air Force was used against the civilian population many times. International condemnation. The Pakistani atrocities in the province had attracted international condemnation. “The surge in unlawful killings of suspected militants and opposition figures in Balochistan has taken the brutality in the province to an unprecedented level,” Brad Adams, Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, said in a July 2011 report. According to Amnesty International’s 2015-16 annual report on Pakistan, “enforced disappearances continued with impunity” in Balochistan and other parts of the country.”[55]

Peter Tatchell: “A series of massacres of peaceful protesters by Pakistani security forces look set to sink hopes of a settlement deal between the government in Islamabad and Baloch nationalists who are campaigning for self-rule. There are fears that the sinister, shadowy Pakistani military and intelligence agencies are behind these killings, in a deliberate attempt to sabotage the reconciliation package put forward by the government of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. On 15 January, at least two Baloch political activists were shot dead and four others seriously wounded after Pakistani security forces opened fire on a peaceful protest organised by the Baloch Students Organisation (BSO) in the Khuzdar district of Balochistan. The rally had been called to protest against the recent murder of Baloch citizens in Karachi and the launching of a new military crackdown in Pakistani annexed and occupied Balochistan. The shootings are the latest of many killings of Baloch protesters and nationalist leaders. They’ve been targeted because of their support for the six-decades-long campaign of resistance against Pakistan’s invasion and subjugation of their homeland. In September last year, Pakistani forces opened fire on a public gathering at Tump High School in Balochistan, killing a 20-year-old political activist, Mukhtar Baloch, and wounding 27 others, including four women and a six-year-old child. Five members of the BSO were arrested at the scene and taken to unknown locations. Watch this mobile phone footage of the attack – the shooting begins just over four minutes into the film. A similar Pakistani military assault on a peaceful Baloch rally took place in January 2009 in Turbat. A month later at Dashte Goran the army attacked a wedding party, killing 13 people, including the bride, groom, six family members and the wedding officiator. A total of 21 people were injured – the majority of them women. Rasool Bux Mengal, joint secretary of the Baloch National Movement (BNM), was abducted from Uthal last August. His tortured dead body, slashed and covered in cigarette burns, was found hanging from a tree. The intention was clear: to terrorise and intimidate the Baloch people. Mengal was the second BNM leader murdered in the last year. In April 2009, the body of Ghulam Mohammad, chair of the BNM, was found partly decomposed in a vat of toxic chemicals. In October last year, Baloch medical students were beaten up and arrested by Pakistani forces in a raid on the Bolan Medical College. The same month, 11 innocent civilians, including women and children, were killed in the Dera Bugti district by Pakistan army bombardments. Little wonder then that Baloch nationalist leaders have rejected the latest peace and reconciliation package proposed by the government in Islamabad. They cite the ongoing military repression and the inadequate nature of the proposals. At first glance, the “Rahe-i- Haqooq Balochistan” deal doesn’t seem unreasonable. It offers a cessation in military operations, a ban on the construction of new army garrisons (although existing ones would remain), the release of most (not all) political detainees and a payment of $1.4bn in gas royalties, spread over 12 years. Baloch nationalists say the offer does not give the people of Balochistan control over their own natural resources or a fair price for them. Moreover, of the 4,000 Baloch people who have been arrested and disappeared, only a handful have been released since the democratic civilian government of Prime Minister Gilani was elected in 2008. The torture of Baloch rights campaigners remains routine and widespread. Promises of de-militarisation are contradicted by continued military operations, attacks on civilian targets and by the building of more police and military garrisons in Balochistan, including a 62% increase in police stations and a 100% increase in paramilitary checkpoints. Baloch human rights groups report that the kidnapping and torture of peaceful, lawful Baloch activists continues unabated. Indeed, the Pakistani government itself has admitted that in 2009 at least 1,102 people were seized by the security forces in Balochistan and disappeared. In recent years, an estimated 80,000 Baloch people have been displaced by Pakistan’s military attacks. These attacks have been aided and abetted by military supplies from the UK, including small arms, artillery, helicopter components and military communications equipment. The US has sold the Pakistani military billions in arms, including F-16 attack aircraft, and Bell and Cobra attack helicopters, which have been used against the people of Balochistan. Rejecting Islamabad’s proposals, nationalist leaders such as Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri and Akhtar Mengal, leader of the Balochistan National Party and a former chief minister of Balochistan, argue that the deal would not ensure genuine autonomy and self-rule. They see it as a way of continuing the Pakistani colonisation of their homeland. Indeed, if the government in Islamabad has a genuine intention to negotiate a settlement, why has it taken nearly two years to put forward these proposals and why are they so inadequate and qualified? The 1973 constitution of Pakistan promised complete provincial autonomy for Balochistan within 10 years. It never happened. Democratically elected Baloch chief ministers who have tried to defend the interests of the people of Balochistan have been sacked by Islamabad. The current chief minister, Aslam Raisani, has limited authority and can be overruled at any time by the federal government and the military top brass if he steps out of line. Even if the government of Pakistan had good intentions, its options are limited. Whatever President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani may want to happen in Balochistan, they are in office but not truly in power. They are the public face of a Pakistani state that is beholden to more powerful forces – the Pakistani military and intelligence services, including the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI). Together with the army, these intelligence services are the real power in Pakistan. They are implicated in six decades of disappearances, torture, detention without trial and extra-judicial killings in Balochistan. The former dictator and general, Pervez Musharaff, may have been ousted from the presidency in 2008 but his cronies still hold many of the key levers of power, especially in the all-crucial military, security and intelligence agencies. They continue to call the shots and pull the strings, regardless of what the democratic, civilian government says and wants.”[56]

Saroop Ijaz: “Pakistani Senator Works to End Enforced Disappearances. Government Ignores Calls to Bring Justice to Victims and Families.  “Any act of enforced disappearance is an offence to human dignity,” states the United Nations Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Yet in Pakistan, hundreds remain forcibly disappeared, their families awaiting answers. Giving people a rare glimmer of hope, Senator Farahatullah Babar called for a new commission on enforced disappearances on Monday. That same day, the Supreme Court ordered the government to provide the details of allegations against people who have gone missing – and are suspected to be “disappeared” by the government – in “black and white.” Yet in the past, the government has failed to comply with court judgments and commissions on this very issue. Pakistan has yet to respond to a Supreme Court directive on October 26 demanding a detailed report on enforced disappearance cases. In a scathing indictment, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan said, “The highest judicial office of the country has no answer to give to the loved ones of the missing persons who have been doing the rounds of the courts.” A previous Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, set up in March 2011 for six months, was recently extended to September 2017. During Pakistan’s latest Universal Periodic Review, where UN member countries weigh in on each other’s human rights records, Pakistan said that after examining of 2,416 disappearances that happened between March 2011 to November 2016, the commission traced 1,798 of the people to either being at home or detained on criminal or terrorism charges. The remaining 618 cases were closed. Still, the government has not held anyone responsible for disappearances accountable. Nor have new cases of disappearances declined. The commission received nearly 300 complaints of enforced disappearances from August to October 2017, one of the largest number of cases received in any three-month period since 2011. Senator Babar’s dissatisfaction with the existing commission stems from its failure to fully use its powers to combat disappearances, including fixing responsibility on individuals or organisations responsible” and filing police reports “against named individuals … who were involved either directly or indirectly in the disappearance of an untraced person.   Pakistan faces serious security threats, and abducting people and making them vanish does not make the country any safer. The government should act on the demands of Senator Farahatullah Babar and the Supreme Court to end the longstanding injustice to hundreds, if not thousands of its citizens.”[57]

The Guardian: “Pakistan’s secret dirty war. In Balochistan, mutilated corpses bearing the signs of torture keep turning up, among them lawyers, students and farm workers. Why is no one investigating and what have they got to do with the bloody battle for Pakistan’s largest province? The bodies surface quietly, like corks bobbing up in the dark. They come in twos and threes, a few times a week, dumped on desolate mountains or empty city roads, bearing the scars of great cruelty. Arms and legs are snapped; faces are bruised and swollen. Flesh is sliced with knives or punctured with drills; genitals are singed with electric prods. In some cases the bodies are unrecognisable, sprinkled with lime or chewed by wild animals. All have a gunshot wound in the head. This gruesome parade of corpses has been surfacing in Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province, since last July. Several human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have accounted for more than 100 bodies – lawyers, students, taxi drivers, farm workers. Most have been tortured. The last three were discovered on Sunday. If you have not heard of this epic killing spree, though, don’t worry: neither have most Pakistanis. Newspaper reports from Balochistan are buried quietly on the inside pages, cloaked in euphemisms or, quite often, not published at all. The forces of law and order also seem to be curiously indifferent to the plight of the dead men. Not a single person has been arrested or prosecuted; in fact, police investigators openly admit they are not even looking for anyone. The stunning lack of interest in Pakistan’s greatest murder mystery in decades becomes more understandable, however, when it emerges that the prime suspect is not some shady gang of sadistic serial killers, but the country’s powerful military and its unaccountable intelligence men. This is Pakistan’s dirty little war. (…)The victims were generally men between 20 and 40 years old – nationalist politicians, students, shopkeepers, labourers. In many cases they were abducted in broad daylight – dragged off buses, marched out of shops, detained at FC checkposts – by a combination of uniformed soldiers and plain-clothes intelligence men. Others just vanished. They re-emerge, dead, with an eerie tempo – approximately 15 bodies every month, although the average was disturbed last Saturday when eight bodies were found in three locations across Balochistan. Activists have little doubt who is behind the atrocities. Human Rights Watch says “indisputable” evidence points to the hand of the FC, the ISI and its sister agency, Military Intelligence. A local group, Voice for Missing Persons, says the body count has surpassed 110. “This is becoming a state of terror,” says its chairman, Naseerullah Baloch. The army denies the charges, saying its good name is being blemished by impersonators. (…)Abdul Rahim, a farmer wearing a jewelled skullcap, is from Khuzdar, a hotbed of insurgent violence. He produces court papers detailing the abduction of his son Saadullah in 2009. First he went to the courts but then his lawyer was shot dead. Then he went to the media but the local press club president was killed. Now, Rahim says, “nobody will help in case they are targeted too. We are hopeless.” (…)Last November, the provincial chief minister, Aslam Raisani, told the BBC that the security forces were “definitely” guilty of some killings; earlier this month, the province’s top lawyer, Salahuddin Mengal, told the supreme court the FC was “lifting people at will“. He resigned a week later. (…)“We are the most secular people in the region, and still we are being ignored,” says Noordin Mengal, who represents Balochistan on the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. In this information vacuum, the powerful do as they please. Lawyer Kachkol Ali witnessed security forces drag three men from his office in April 2009. Their bodies turned up five days later, dead and decomposed. After telling his story to the press, Ali was harassed by military intelligence, who warned him his life was in danger. He fled the country. “In Pakistan, there is only rule of the jungle,” he says by phone from Lørenskog, a small Norwegian town where he won asylum last summer. “Our security agencies pick people up and treat them like war criminals,” he says. “They don’t even respect the dead.” (…)”Balochistan is a warning of the real battle for Pakistan, which is about power and resources,” says Haris Gazdar, a Karachi-based researcher.”[58]

BBC: “On 17 January, 13 bodies were discovered from a mass grave in the village of Tutak near Khuzdar in Balochistan province. Only two of the mutilated, decomposed bodies have been identified so far – both were men who had disappeared four months earlier. A heartbreaking account of the mass grave by Saher Baloch, a journalist for Dawn newspaper, ends with the ominous prediction by an official that there are more bodies waiting to be found. The Frontier Corps, the anti-Shia group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and other groups are all enmeshed in a decade-long campaign of “pick up and dump” in which Baloch nationalists, militants or even innocent bystanders are picked up, disappeared, tortured, mutilated and then killed. The army, paramilitaries and the government have consistently denied being responsible for violence in Balochistan, pointing instead to the myriad of armed groups operating in the region. But even though the Supreme Court has taken up some of the cases of the disappeared, the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has failed to engage with the issue. Nobody even knows how many people have have disappeared – the figures are between hundreds and several thousand. Now the families of those disappeared are on a long march through the winter months from Karachi to Islamabad to register their loss and grievances with the government. Wizened old men and women wrapped in chadors have been dragging children along and braving the cold and the rain. They entered Lahore earlier this month and have already been on the road for nearly four months. They said they do not even have a dead body to bury and want to know where the men of their families are. But the government has ignored them – it is almost as if they did not exist. So many journalists have been killed in Balochistan that there are few honest reports from the province in the national print or electronic media because journalists are too scared. The story of this bloody civil war is going untold.”[59]

Kiran Nazish –  The Diplomat: “Balochistan’s Missing Persons. When will the international community begin to pay attention to the missing Baloch? In Balochistan, a resource-rich province of Pakistan, thousands of innocent civilians, suspected militants and activists are missing. Locals say the missing individuals have been abducted by Pakistan’s military and associated forces as a way to suppress and subjugate the Baloch people. There is disagreement on the actual number missing. An association for peaceful protest formed by some of the families of those missing, called the International Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (IIVBMP) says that up to 18,000 Baloch are currently unaccounted for, of whom more than 2000 were killed between 2001 to 2013. That figure is much higher than data from other NGOs and human rights organizations, but the IVBMP says it will be publishing details of all its data early next year. In October 2013, in an effort to draw international attention to the humanitarian crisis, the IVBMP began a long march from Quetta to Karachi, which will continue to Islamabad where it will finally end in February. About 20 families of persons believed abducted and killed by the Pakistan military, mostly women, are taking part. Unfortunately, the march has received scant coverage from media, either within Pakistan or internationally. The Diplomat has spoken to dozens of victims and interviewed IVBMP members during their march near Quetta and Karachi. IVBMP was formed when its current vice chairman Mama Qadeer Baloch invited family members of other Baloch missing persons to a meeting in Quetta on October 28, 2009. Among them were the current general secretary Farzana Majeed Baloch and the current chairman Nasrullah Baloch. Ten members of the executive were appointed and the group began to speak out about their missing sons and brothers, urging the media and government to investigate. The IVBMP has coordinators in every district in Balochistan, who report and record every abduction, torture and murder. They then send the data to human rights groups, media and the United Nations. Although the abductions started in the 1970s, Mama Qadeer Baloch says, “Things got worse in 2001, when General Pervez Musharraf came to power. He started a much more speedier policy against Baloch activists and also martyred a respected and beloved Baloch leader, Nawab Akbar Bugti.” Qadeer says that abductions, hatred and political murders all increased around this time. Later, under former President Asif Ali Zardari, bloodied, mutilated bodies were dumped in different parts of Balochistan, claims Qadeer. He recalls that during Zardari’s term, then Interior Minister Rehman Malik visited Balochistan and warned of a crackdown. Qadeer continues, “Frontier Corps (FC) uniformed men, come, pick up our sons. And the ISI and MI also come in civil clothing, raid our homes, pick up our boys from colleges, schools and neighbourhood. Whenever they fear our students will fight back, they bring in the FC’s uniformed forces to control the situation. They have treated our educated lot the most horribly. This includes, doctors, thinkers, lawyers, professors, and especially journalists.” Qadeer’s son, Jaleel Reki Baloch, 23 was killed three years after he was taken. He was abducted from the front door of his home in Quetta, on February 13, 2009, after returning from Friday prayers with friends. Eyewitnesses told The Diplomat that there were four unmarked cars with two FC pickup trucks. Nearby shopkeepers, Reki’s friends, cobblers, vegetable vendors and other people in the neighbourhood all witnessed the abduction, which they claim was by the ISI. Reki was a political activist working towards a Baloch movement for liberation. His abduction and killing is an example to many other Baloch activists, and many locals say that they asked their sons to leave such political groups when they saw his mutilated corpse return home three years later. Reki’s body was riddled with bullets. Holes had been drilled into his bones and joints. Burn marks were strewn across his back. Eyewitnesses accused the ISI, as did the then chief minister of Balochistan Aslam Raisani, in a statement presented in the High Court. Despite the evidence, the law has not helped his son, complains Qadeer. It is because of this fear and absence of justice that political workers are now unable to live a normal life in the cities. Anyone involved in the Baloch movement now either lives in the mountains or lives abroad, mostly in Europe, Australia, England or Canada. Some families reached by The Diplomat gave horrifying descriptions of the torture their family members suffered. Some bodies were minus their heart, lungs and intestines. Some had had their eyeballs removed. In one case, the body of Marri Baloch was reportedly given to medical students for training. The IVBMP has a photographic record of the horrors. “They do this to scare us,” says Aafia Baloch, mother of one of the abducted Baloch activists. (…) Adds Qadeer, “I did not cry when I saw my son’s body. Of course my son was dear to me. But I will not let this hurt me or diminish the struggle of the people of Balochistan.” “We are in touch with UNO. We always update them with each abduction and murder, we email them all the bio data,” says one Baloch worker with the IVBMP who asks not to be named. “We will publish all the data with specification of their status as killed, or tortured and abducted. We will give away booklets with all the bio data of each abductee and murder.” Farzana Majeed Baloch, another leading member of VMBP, is the sister of student leader Zakir Majeed Baloch, who was abducted on June 8, 2009 by intelligence agencies from Mastung, in front of two eyewitnesses. Zakir was a Baloch political activist. Since then his sister has been protesting at the cost of her own safety. She is also taking part in the long march. “It was difficult to protect ourselves since we started IVBMP, even though we are peaceful in our voice. This long march was also tremendously challenging. The whole way was extremely difficult for many families who have walked with us,” Farzana told The Diplomat. She calls on the government of Pakistan to stop these abductions, including those of political workers. “You have to take the political activists to court. You can’t simply pick them up and abuse them in torture cells. It happens around the world. They deserve due process,” she tells The Diplomat. “This government tortured us for years and tortures the family of those who has gone missing. In these times of education and technology, when we have reached the moon, the Pakistan army, still believes in backward obsolete concept of slavery and torture.” Majeed insists that their protest is peaceful. The group has reached out all local and international human rights groups for support. “But the amount of attention we are getting from everyone, is right in front of you,” she adds, complaining about the lack of media coverage. “I urge the UN, not to stay silent. It is to protect people like us that the UN was formed,” says Farzana Majeed. “I don’t just speak about the Baloch, I speak for all humans and all people of Pakistan who are going through the torture from the army officers.” Farzana receives constant threats. Her mother was threatened in a bid to stop her daughter. She says the mental torture is unbearable sometimes. “They think I will get disheartened, but I told myself, no matter what they do I will stand by this struggle. This is not just the story of my brother’s abduction. My protest is for all victims of human rights abuse in Pakistan, by the Pakistani government and military. Sometimes my mother gets really scared. But when she realizes neither the federal nor the provincial government will do anything, she supports me in this cause. She still cries for my career, my health, my personal life.” Reki’s son was just five years old when his father’s corpse arrived. “The doctors told me not to tell his son. But when the dead body arrived, I took him by hand to show him,” Mama Qadeer told The Diplomat. Beyuragh Baloch, looked up and asked his grandfather “Who did this?” “The Pakistan military has killed him,” he was told. Qadeer says, “It was right that he see this, so that his subconscious mind will remember what happened to his father when he was five.” Beyuragh is seven now.”[60]

The Guardian: “Pakistan’s military has escalated its brutal campaign of abduction and extra-judicial execution targeting nationalist rebels in Balochistan province, human rights groups have said. In a new report on “enforced disappearances” by military and intelligence officials, Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticised the failure of Pakistan’s civilian leaders to halt what it termed a human rights “free-for-all“. “The national government has done little to end the carnage,” said HRW’s Asia director, Brad Adams. “President Asif Ali Zardari has to realise it cannot just be wished away.” (…)Balochistan is home to some of the most brutal state-led human rights abuses in Pakistan. Suspected nationalist rebels or sympathisers are routinely picked up in broad daylight, taken to centres where torture is rife and, in an increasing number of cases, later found dead on the roadside with a bullet wound in the head. Local groups have counted more than 180 bodies, mostly of men who reportedly disappeared at the hands of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) in co-operation with Frontier Corps paramilitaries. (…)A sense of lawlessness and impunity reigns in the province, which covers 43% of Pakistan’s land mass but accounts for just 5% of the population. One former detainee said his captors told him: “We can torture you, or kill you, or keep you for years at our will. It is only the army chief and the [intelligence] chief that we obey.” (…)  HRW says that in military detention camps, prisoners are beaten, hung upside down and deprived of food and sleep for long periods. Over the past year the bodies of detainees have turned up on the roadside across the province, triggering protests in the provincial capital, Quetta. The exact number of those detained is unclear. In 2008 the interior minister, Rehman Malik, said at least 1,100 people were missing, but last January the Balochistan home minister put the figure at just 55 people. (…)  A supreme court judge said last year that disappearances from Balochistan posed “the most burning issue in the country”. But a judicial enquiry into the matter has been largely toothless due to a lack of military co-operation.”[61]

Malik Siraj Akbar: “Since the government views them as “insurgents” and “terrorists,” it does not bother to identify anyone of them or provide any accountability why alleged terrorists are not arrested and given a fair trial. A country where security forces kill fellow countrymen so indiscriminately, and then flaunt over their extrajudicial actions, certainly shames democracy. What has gone wrong in Balochistan? (…) In order to make sure that he stayed in power in spite of all odds, the chief minister gave the Pakistani intelligence agencies a blank check to continue with the forced disappearances in Balochistan.”[62]

DAWN: “The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a report submitted by Chief Secretary Balochistan Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad on the southwestern province’s security situation during the hearing of a petition on the law and order situation and human rights violation in Balochistan, DawnNews reported. A three-judge bench of the apex court, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, heard the petition filed by the Balochistan Bar Association on the law and order situation in Pakistan’s largest province. During the hearing, the chief secretary said no secret operation was being carried out in the province. The chief secretary submitted a report before the bench on behalf of the Balochistan government on the province’s law and order situation. It was rejected by the apex court shortly afterwards. In his remarks, the chief justice said that no changes had been made to the report which stated that no secret operation was ongoing in the southwestern province. Moreover, the report stated that no so-called ‘death squads’ of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Military Intelligence (MI) were operating in Balochistan. It further stated that there were no ‘missing’ persons in the custody of the country’s intelligence agencies. The chief secretary informed the bench that an affidavit had already been submitted in the case. Also during the hearing, the bench restricted the chief secretary from initiating a political discussion on the Aghaz-i-Huqooq-i-Balochistan. Chief Justice Iftikhar remarked that the chief secretary should answer questions that he had been asked, adding that, it was not the court’s business to discuss politics. (…) Earlier during Thursday’s hearing, Mengal had described enforced disappearances as the real cause of the current unrest in Balochistan. “Why should not we divorce peacefully rather than seeking for a bloody divorce if the rulers have decided to keep on giving us mutilated dead bodies,” Sardar Mengal said. Sardar Mengal, president of the Balochistan National Party, had come from London to especially apprise people of the issues responsible for the breakdown of law and order in the restive province.”[63]

ERIC SCHMITT: “The Obama administration is expressing alarm over reports that thousands of political separatists and captured Taliban insurgents have disappeared into the hands of Pakistan’s police and security forces, and that some may have been tortured or killed. The issue came up in a State Department report to Congress last month that urged Pakistan to address this and other human rights abuses. It threatens to become the latest source of friction in the often tense relationship between the wartime allies. The concern is over a steady stream of accounts from human rights groups that Pakistan’s security services have rounded up thousands of people over the past decade, mainly in Baluchistan, a vast and restive province far from the fight with the Taliban, and are holding them incommunicado without charges. Some American officials think that the Pakistanis have used the pretext of war to imprison members of the Baluch nationalist opposition that has fought for generations to separate from Pakistan. Some of the so-called disappeared are guerrillas; others are civilians. “Hundreds of cases are pending in the courts and remain unresolved,” said the Congressionally mandated report that the State Department sent to Capitol Hill on Nov. 23. A Congressional official provided a copy of the eight-page, unclassified document to The New York Times. Separately, the report also described concerns that the Pakistani military had killed unarmed members of the Taliban, rather than put them on trial. Two months ago, the United States took the unusual step of refusing to train or equip about a half-dozen Pakistani Army units that are believed to have killed unarmed prisoners and civilians during recent offensives against the Taliban. The most recent State Department report contains some of the administration’s most pointed language about accusations of such so-called extrajudicial killings. “The Pakistani government has made limited progress in advancing human rights and continues to face human rights challenges,” the State Department report concluded. “There continue to be gross violations of human rights by Pakistani security forces.” The Obama administration has largely sought to confront Pakistan in private with evidence of human rights abuses by its intelligence and security forces, fearing that a public scolding could imperil the country’s cooperation in combating Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other extremist groups. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the administration of President George W. Bush urged Pakistan to capture militants and Islamic extremists linked to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Since then, human rights groups have said that Pakistan’s security forces used that campaign as a cover to round up hundreds, if not thousands, of political activists and guerrilla fighters in Baluchistan and hold them in secret detention. Precise numbers of disappearances are difficult to pin down, human rights advocates say, partly because family members fear that reporting missing relatives could endanger the relatives or even themselves. “It is very difficult to put numbers on disappearances as they are accompanied by intimidation of the next of kin of the disappeared,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch in Lahore, Pakistan. “People are unable to speak publicly. But we can safely say that disappearances are the order of the day across Pakistan, particularly in relation with counterterrorism.” (…)Under pressure from Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which has held hearings on petitions filed by family members of missing Baluch men, as well as public rallies in supported of the disappeared, the government of President Asif Ali Zardari has been forced to respond to the outcry. A judicial commission established to investigate the disappearances is scheduled to present its report to the Supreme Court on Friday. Pakistani intelligence officials say that human rights groups have exaggerated the number of people held incommunicado. The officials seemed to justify the extrajudicial detentions by citing the country’s weak judicial system and often poor police investigations that they say have led to dozens of terrorism suspects’ being acquitted by local courts. American officials have dismissed these claims for years. (…)The State Department’s most recent report on human rights in Pakistan, issued in March, said that during 2009 “politically motivated disappearances continued, and police and security forces held prisoners incommunicado and refused to disclose their location.” That report, citing a Pakistani human rights group, said that in August 2009, Pakistani Frontier Corps paramilitary troops arrested two members of the Baluchistan National Party in Khuzdar, Pakistan. Two days later, the men were turned over to the police. “Both men showed evidence of having been tortured,” the report said. Authorities reportedly forced them to make false confessions before their release.[64]

Human Rights Watch: “Pakistan’s government should immediately end widespread disappearances of suspected militants and activists by the military, intelligence agencies, and the paramilitary Frontier Corps in the southwestern province of Balochistan, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Several of those “disappeared” were among the dozens of people extrajudicially executed in recent months in the resource-rich and violence-wracked province. The 132-page report, “‘We Can Torture, Kill, or Keep You for Years’: Enforced Disappearances by Pakistan Security Forces in Balochistan,” documents dozens of enforced disappearances, in which the authorities take people into custody and then deny all responsibility or knowledge of their fate or whereabouts. The report details 45 alleged cases of enforced disappearances, the majority in 2009 and 2010. While hundreds of people have been forcibly disappeared in Balochistan since 2005, dozens of new enforced disappearances have occurred since Pakistan returned to civilian rule in 2008. “Pakistan’s security forces are engaging in an abusive free-for-all in Balochistan as Baloch nationalists and suspected militants ‘disappear,’ and in many cases are executed,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The national government has done little to end the carnage in Balochistan, calling into question its willingness or ability to control the military and intelligence agencies.” The report is based on over 100 interviews by Human Rights Watch in Balochistan in 2010 and 2011 with family members of “disappeared” people, former detainees, local human rights activists, lawyers, and witnesses to government abductions. Human Rights Watch investigated several cases in which uniformed personnel of the Frontier Corps, an Interior Ministry paramilitary force, and the police were involved in abducting Baloch nationalists and suspected militants. In others cases, witnesses typically referred to abductors as being from the agencies, a term commonly used to describe the intelligence agencies, including the military Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intellilgence, and the civilian Intelligence Bureau. In all the cases Human Rights Watch documented, the security forces never identified themselves, nor explained the basis for the arrest or where they were taking the person. In many cases, the person being arrested was beaten and dragged handcuffed and blindfolded into the security forces’ vehicles. Without exception in the cases Human Rights Watch investigated, released detainees and relatives able to obtain information reported torture and ill-treatment of detainees. Methods of torture included beatings, often with sticks or leather belts, hanging detainees upside down, and prolonged food and sleep deprivation. In some cases relatives told Human Rights Watch that senior government officials, including the Balochistan chief minister, Nawab Aslam Raisani, had freely admitted that intelligence personnel were responsible for the disappearance but expressed an inability to hold the abductors accountable. Those targeted for enforced disappearance were primarily Baloch nationalist activists or suspected Baloch militants. In several cases, people appeared to have been targeted because of their tribal affiliation, especially when a particular tribe, such as the Bugti or Mengal, was involved in fighting Pakistan’s armed forces. Little information is available about what happens to people who are forcibly disappeared. Some have been held in unacknowledged detention in facilities run by the Frontier Corps and the intelligence agencies, such as at the Kuli camp, a military base in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan. “Pakistani security services are brazenly disappearing, torturing, and often killing people because of suspected ties to the Baloch nationalist movement,” Adams said. “This is not counterinsurgency – it is barbarism and it needs to end now.” The number of enforced disappearances by Pakistan’s security forces in recent years remains unknown, Human Rights Watch said. Figures provided by senior officials are grossly inconsistent, and these officials have provided no explanation about how they were reached. In 2008, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said there had been at least 1,100 victims of these disappearances in Balochistan. In January 2011, Balochistan’s home minister, Mir Zafrullah Zehri, told provincial legislators that only 55 people were considered missing. There is increasing evidence to suggest that many of the “disappeared” have been extrajudicially executed while in government custody. Human Rights Watch has recently reported on the killing of at least 150 people across Balochistan since January in acts widely referred to as “kill and dump” operations for which Pakistani security forces may be responsible. Assailants have also carried out targeted killings of opposition leaders and activists. Human Rights Watch reiterated its call to the Pakistan government to end these abuses immediately. (…) Under international law, enforced disappearances are considered a continuing offense, one that is ongoing so long as the state conceals the fate or the whereabouts of the victim. “President Asif Ali Zardari should realize that the disturbing reality of wanton and widespread abuse in Balochistan cannot be wished away,” Adams said. All Pakistanis will pay the price if the government fails to protect Balochistan’s population from heinous abuses at the hands of the Pakistani military.” (…)Since 2005, Pakistani and international human rights organizations have recorded numerous serious human rights violations by security forces, including extrajudicial executions, torture, enforced disappearances, forced displacement, and excessive use of force against protesters. (…) On June 29, 2009, Din Mohammad Baloch, age 40, a physician, was on a night shift at a small medical clinic in the Ornach area of Khuzdar district. A staff member, “Bukhtiar” (not his real name), was also in the clinic. He told Baloch’s family that at around 2:30 a.m. seven men entered the clinic. A few of them tied Bukhtiar up and locked him in a room, while the others went into Baloch’s office. It was dark, Bukhtiar said, and he could not see the men clearly or determine whether they were wearing uniforms. Bukhtiar said he could hear loud noises that sounded like a scuffle between Baloch and the men, and then he heard the men dragging Baloch out. When Bukhtiar finally freed himself around 30 minutes later, he informed Baloch’s family. The family went to the local police station, but the police refused to lodge a criminal complaint, known as a First Information Report (FIR), offering no explanation. Two days later the police lodged the report, based on an interview with Bukhtiar. It said Baloch was taken by unknown men. Several months later, local newspapers reported that the Frontier Corps had arrested Baloch and two others in connection with an armed attack on the Frontier Corps on August 14, 2009, nearly two months after Baloch was abducted. Baloch’s brother spoke to the author of the article, who told him that the information came from the Special Branch of the Police, the intelligence arm of the Balochistan Police Service. However, government authorities have not officially confirmed that Baloch is in Frontiers Corps custody or specified the charges against him. Baloch’s family told Human Rights Watch they believed Baloch had been abducted by intelligence agencies because he was a senior member of the Baloch National Movement. Baloch’s brother said that he had met with the chief minister of Balochistan, Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani, on July 15 and in August 2009. On the latter occasion the chief minister told him that Baloch was in the custody of the intelligence agencies, but did not specify which one. Human Rights Watch wrote to Chief Minister Raisani seeking confirmation that he had made these allegations, but received no response. A lawyer acting on behalf of Baloch’s family filed a petition regarding Baloch’s “disappearance” with the Balochistan High Court on July 4, 2009. On May 27, 2010, the court ordered police to locate him, with the presiding judge saying that they should “do everything” needed to find him. But the court has had no further hearings in the case. The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, a local Baloch nongovernmental organization, filed a separate petition on Baloch’s disappearance with the Pakistan Supreme Court. In June 2010, the Supreme Court told Baloch’s lawyers that the ISI had reported to the court that Baloch was not in their custody but was being held by the chief of the Mangal tribe. However, the ISI did not provide any further details about these claims to the court, and the court did not share their submissions with Baloch’s lawyers. The family has not been able to obtain any further information about Baloch’s fate or whereabouts. Enforced Disappearance of Mir Abdul Waheed Resani Baloch. Over the last 15 years, Pakistani security forces have detained Mir Abdul Waheed Resani Baloch, 45, a senior member of the Balochistan Republican Party (BRP) central committee, numerous times. He was held in Frontier Corps jails in Mastung and in Quetta. On January 2, 2010, a court in Khozdar ordered Baloch released after a 10-month detention in Khozdar central jail. However, within minutes of his release, the police picked him up again in the street in front of multiple witnesses. The police took him to Mastung police station, where he tried to speak to the news media. A relative of Baloch told Human Rights Watch that a senior police officer interrupted Baloch, announced that he would like to “talk to Baloch in private,” and took him to another room. The relative told Human Rights Watch: We waited for about 10 minutes and then asked about him. The officer came back and said, “Sorry, we had to transfer him somewhere and we cannot tell you where, so you should all leave.” We waited for about six hours, and then left. The same day, officers from the [police] anti-terrorist unit came to our house, claiming they were looking for him. They pretended he had escaped from custody. Of course, they knew he was not there, and instead of looking for him they just looted our house, taking away money, jewelry, mobile phones, and expensive clothes. On January 4, Baloch’s relatives went to the police, who denied having any knowledge of his whereabouts.  They accepted an FIR, which simply said that Baloch was “missing.” Three days later the family filed a petition with the Balochistan High Court. The court sent inquiries to the chief minister, home minister, and inspector-general of the police. Their representatives, who appeared in court, denied having any knowledge of Baloch’s whereabouts and claimed they were looking for him. Baloch’s relatives said that after his forced disappearance, Chief Minister Aslam Raisani temporarily suspended the district police officers (DPOs) for Mastung and Much because the Mastung DPO allegedly had handed Baloch over to the Much DPO. A month later, however, both officers were reinstated. Baloch’s fate and where abouts remain unknown. Enforced Disappearances of Mazhar Khan and Abdul Rasool. At around 10 p.m. on December 19, 2009, a group of armed men abducted Mazar Khan, 21, and Abdul Rasool, 26, from Khan’s house near Kili Station in Noshki district. A witness to the abduction told Human Rights Watch that seven men in civilian clothes, their faces covered with scarves, broke down the gate to Khan’s house and burst in, firing their pistols in the air. The witness said Rasool resisted and one of the men hit him on the temple with his pistol butt, but Khan did not resist. The assailants tied the men’s wrists and ankles and blindfolded them. Then they dragged the victims outside, put them into one of their three pickup trucks, and drove away. The next day, relatives of Khan and Rasool reported the abductions to police at Kili Station. “The police said they cannot do anything about kidnappings,” one of Khan’s relatives told Human Rights Watch. In mid-February 2010, Rasool was released by his captors. He told Human Rights Watch about his ordeal: On the day of the abduction, after travelling for 15 to 20 minutes by car, it stopped and I was dragged outside and into a room. I don’t remember anything about the building I was in because I was still blindfolded. But after whoever brought me in had left, I removed my blindfold and saw that I was alone in a small, dark room. I had no idea where Mazhar was. Rasool said that soon after he had been brought in, some men entered the room and asked him if he was involved in Baloch political activities. They kept him in this room for a month and 25 days, and then moved him to another location, a three-hour drive away. They kept him there for another five days. Then at night the captors put Rasool into a vehicle, blindfolded and handcuffed. They drove for a few hours. His captors stopped the car, removed Rasool, still blindfolded and handcuffed, and told him he was being released on Chaman Road on the outskirts of Quetta and then drove off. Fearful of being abducted again, Rasool did not approach government authorities about his disappearance. But Khan’s family filed an application for a first report with police in Noshki on February 17, 2010. Although the police registered the FIR, it only stated that Khan was a missing person and made no mention of the circumstances of his abduction. On February 21, relatives of both men filed a statement about the abductions with the Balochistan High Court. The next day, relatives of Khan and Rasool met representatives of the Balochistan Home and Tribal Affairs Ministry, who said they would record Khan’s abduction but could do nothing to investigate it. In March 2010, the Balochistan High Court accepted a habeas corpus petition asking the federal Ministries of Defense and Interior, the Balochistan provincial government, Military Intelligence, the ISI, and the Kili police station to provide information on charges brought against Khan and Rasool. The high court has since held five hearings but only police representatives have ever appeared before it. They have denied having any knowledge of the abductions. Khan’s whereabouts remain unknown.”[65]

Saeed Baloch: “The Pakistani army then invaded Baluchistan on march 28th, 1948, and imprisoned all members of the Kalat Assembly. India stood by silently Lord Mountbatten, Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, and Maulana Azad, then the president of India’s Congress Party said nothing about the rape of Baluchistan or later of the N.W.F.P. Till date, Baluchistan has been the victim of human rights violations, all the major human rights organisations agree that there are gross human rights abuses in Baluchistan, which are being committed by Pakistan Army and ISI. Hundreds Baloch political leaders and activists have been assassinated in different parts of Baluchistan by Pakistani security forces.  since 2001, more than 23,000 Baloch political activists, journalists, writers, and children have gone missing, “illegally abducted” by the Pakistani state security forces and the victims of enforced disappearances are being “tortured and executed” in custody, more than 5,000 Baluch have been dumped in various parts of Baluchistan by Pakistani state security forces. The number does not include those who were killed during the military attack and air strikes on their homes by Pakistan Air Force fighter jets and cobra helicopters, the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) has registered 667 cases of enforced disappearance and 116 of recovered mutilated bodies in 2016 alone. The situation is getting worst and the genocide of Baluch nation is on the rise in different names and forms such as enforced disappearance, in-custody killings, indiscriminate bombardment of Baloch houses, target killing of the most educated and learned section of Baloch society and economic deprivation of Baloch people in Gwadar to pave way of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor – CEPEC. Many people have migrated from different parts of Baluchistan to safer places because of the bloodshed and military attacks by Pakistan army across Baluchistan. Recently, Pakistan army’s special forces targeted killed and abducted hundreds of Baluch civilians in DASHT, DERA BUGHTI and BOLAN in the name of ‘war against war’, but major casualties were the innocent civilians living including women, children, and elderly people who were brutally massacred, and many women were taken into custody and imprisoned for several weeks. Nobody can exactly tell what those imprisoned women have gone thought. Pakistan is systematically committing a genocide in BALUCHISTAN to maintains its illegal occupation over Baluch land and to loot the resources of Baluchistan to feed, sustain and prosper Punjab.  Baluchistan is blessed with unexplored natural resources that have potential to serve whole region. Geological surveys proved that Baluchistan is rich in minerals like Metallic minerals, Aluminum, Chromium, Copper 2inc, Gold, Iron, platinum, and Uranium. Nonmetallic minerals: asbestos, barytes, Fluorspar, Gypsum, limestone dolomite. Despite being the owners of a naturally rich land, the inhabitants of Baluchistan live in abject poverty. They are deprived of employment, quality education and clean drinking water.  Humans and Animals use the same water and there are no proper Healthcare facilities in Balochistan. Recently, several very educated Baloch youths including Rehan Rind Baloch and Noor Bibi Baloch died of cancer because Balochistan doesn’t have a cancer hospital. Whereas, Punjabis and its brutal army are rapidly exploiting the resources of Baluchistan along with Chinese imperialist. The ongoing exploiting-project known as CHINA PAKISTAN ECONOMIC CORRIDOR has become another cause of the acceleration of Baloch genocide. The people who live near to CPEC route are being massacred in daily basis by security forces. In the beginning of this year, the Frontier Corps (FC) has been divided into two parts put all area into the military siege which includes Gwadar, Awaran, Kech and Panjgoor. The deployment of Frontier Corps (FC) has already resulted in the formulation of dozens of armed proxy groups (military death squads) and forced disappearances of innocent Baluch civilians. The Pakistan army plans to establish the second FC headquarter in Turbat, Kech areas which will be under an IG Command. This is another expansionist design of Punjabi army to strengthen its grip over the occupied territories of Baluchistan. Moreover, many settlers will move towards Baluchistan in name of the completion of this project (PAKISTAN-CHINA ECONOMIC CORRIDOR), which will be enough to convert the Baluch nation into a minority in Baluchistan. The history unveils the fact that the effective source to keep a nation slave is the conversion of the population, in which the occupier states settle their big part of populations in the land of the subjugated nations to convert their local populations into a minority. The world history is full of such examples. (…) There is not only a human genocide going on in Baluchistan but Pakistan is also methodically committing the cultural and economic genocide of the Baluch nation. It Is time that united efforts must be made to help the Baluch Nation to get rid of this trauma and miserable situation. In 1948, the General Assembly adopted a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was not only considered a milestone in the human history, but also a light at the end of the tunnel, drafted by a committee headed by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s widow, Eleanor and the French lawyer Rene Cassin.  The document proclaims basic civil, political, and economic rights common to all human beings. However, it was the same year when Pakistan trespassed the document of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by invading a sovereign state (Baluchistan) and conducted massive military offensives in every nook and cranny of Baluchistan which resulted in many deaths and enforced abductions of Baloch political leaders and common civilians. Despite the existences of such type of the historical fact and ample evidence against the state of Pakistan, the United Nations continues to ignore the Baloch genocide. The Baluch nation – men, women, children, and elderly are increasingly asking that how may Baluch must die before the UN take notice of the Baluch genocide and held Pakistan accountable for its crimes against humanity and war crimes?  The UN and international community ignored the genocide of Bengali people by Pakistan and now it seems the UN is waiting for Baluchistan to be turned into another Rwanda. Pakistan so far succeeded in concealing its genocidal policies against Baloch nation because the UN and rest of the civilised world remain silent on Pakistani war crimes in Baluchistan. In 1971, Pakistan killed more than three million Bengalis and raped millions of Bengali women but the UN has failed to even pass a single resolution against Pakistan. UN and civilised world’s criminal silence on the genocide of the Bengali people has encouraged Pakistan to repeat the same in Baluchistan. On the other hand, from 1967 to 1989 the UN security council adopted 131 resolutions directly addressing the Arab-Israel conflict, moreover, Israel had been condemned in 45 resolutions by United Nations Human rights council since its creation in 2006 which is the only democratic country in the middle East. That brings to light the fact that there is a serious deficiency in The United Nations which strongly violates the UN charter and its values, which ought to be fixed before it makes Baloch nation lose hope towards the United Nations.”[66]

 

Evidence: War Crimes and Extermination

Firstpost: “Pakistan military started ‘genocide’ of 1971 that killed 3 million, says Sheikh Hasina at UNGA. United Nations: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has hit out at Pakistan, saying its army launched a “heinous” military operation in 1971 which triggered a “genocide” during the liberation war, killing three million innocent people. In her address to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, Hasina said her country’s Parliament had recently declared 25 March as ‘Genocide Day’ to pay homage to the victims. The war in 1971 broke after a sudden crackdown at midnight on 25 March, 1971, in the erstwhile East Pakistan by the Pakistani troops and ended on 16 December. The same year Pakistan conceded defeat and unconditionally surrendered in Dhaka to the allied forces comprising the freedom fighters and the Indian soldiers. Officially, three million people were killed during the nine-month-long war. “In the 1971 war of liberation, we endured an extreme form of genocide. In the nine-month-long war of liberation against Pakistan, three million innocent people were killed and more than 200,000 women were violated,” Hasina said. “The Pakistan military launched the heinous ‘Operation Searchlight’ on 25 March, which was the beginning of the 1971 genocide. The 1971 genocide included targeted elimination of individuals on the grounds of religion, race and political belief. The intellectuals were killed brutally,” Hasina said. Exercising its right to respond, Pakistan rejected Hasina’s statement. (…) Pakistan said late Thursday night. “The issues of 1971 agreed were and settled under the budget agreement of 1974 which was signed by India and Bangabandhu of Bangladesh. Hate berates hate. We have to move on,” Pakistan said.[67]

Lorraine Boissoneault (The Smithsonian): “The Genocide the U.S. Can’t Remember, But Bangladesh Can’t Forget. Millions were killed in what was then known as East Pakistan, but Cold War geopolitics left defenseless Muslims vulnerable. (…) Blood wrote this dispatch two weeks into the bloody massacre that would lead to the birth of Bangladesh. Unlike the Rwandan genocide, or the Holocaust, or the killing that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia, the genocide in Bangladesh that ended 45 years ago this week has largely slipped out of public awareness—even though the upper estimate for the death toll is 3 million. With the ongoing debate over how or even if America should assist Syria and those trapped in Aleppo, understanding how the U.S. has responded to genocides in the past is more crucial than ever. (…) Between 1947 and 1970, East Pakistan (which would eventually become Bangladesh) received only 25 percent of the country’s industrial investments and 30 percent of its imports, despite producing 59 percent of the country’s exports. West Pakistani elites saw their eastern countrymen as culturally and ethnically inferior, and an attempt to make Urdu the national language (less than 10 percent of the population in East Pakistan had a working knowledge of Urdu) was seen as further proof that East Pakistan’s interests would be ignored by the government. Making matters worse, the powerful Bhola Cyclone hit East Bangladesh in November of 1970, killing 300,000 people. Despite having more resources at their disposal, West Pakistan offered a sluggish response to the disaster. As French journalist Paul Dreyfus said of the situation, “Over the years, West Pakistan behaved like a poorly raised, egotistical guest, devouring the best dishes and leaving nothing but scraps and leftovers for East Pakistan.” (…) While West Pakistan’s votes were split between different parties, an overwhelming majority of votes in East Pakistan went to the Awami League led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who campaigned on a platform of Bengali autonomy. Shocked by the results and what they meant for the stability of the country, Yahya Khan delayed calling the first meeting of the assembly and instituted martial law. Riots and strikes erupted across East Pakistan, with Mujibur announcing the start of a civil disobedience movement in front of a crowd of 50,000 on March 7, 1971. (…) Mujibur was arrested and 60-80,000 West Pakistani soldiers, who had been infiltrating East Pakistan for several months, began what would be known as Operation Searchlight, the massacre of Bengali civilians by Pakistani soldiers. Estimates for the total number of deaths range from 500,000 to over 3 million, with the death toll having become politicized over the years, says Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center. “Regardless of what the number is, clearly massive atrocities took place against the Bengali people,” Curtis says. (…) The ‘3 million’ figure came from the Soviet newspaper, Pravda, reported investigative journalist David Bergman in a New York Times op-ed, and it has been used to create a national narrative about Bangladesh and its formation that allows the government to extend its judicial power.  By halfway through the nine-month genocide, the U.S Central Intelligence Agency gave a conservative estimate of 200,000 Bangladeshis murdered. (…) it seems clear that Pakistani soldiers perpetrated most of the brutal attacks, many wielding weapons supplied by the U.S., since Pakistan was considered an American ally. In May 1971, 1.5 million refugees sought asylum in India; by November 1971 that number had risen to nearly 10 million. When Australian doctor Geoffrey Davis was brought to Dhaka by the United Nations to assist with late-term abortions of raped women, at the end of the war, he believed the estimated figure for the number of Bengali women who were raped—200,000 to 400,000—was probably too low. All the while, tensions were gradually increasing between Pakistan and India, with both sides calling in reserve troops to prepare for a possible conflict along the Pakistan-Indian border. The massacre in Bangladesh came to an abrupt end when West Pakistan declared war on India in early December. By December 16, India forced Pakistan into unconditional surrender, and 90,000 Pakistani soldiers became prisoners of war. Bangladesh had achieved its independence—but at an incredibly high cost. The world at large was well aware of the violence happening in Bangladesh throughout Operation Searchlight. Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi termed the attack “genocide” as early as March 31 of that year. Blood, the American consul-general in Dhaka, and Kenneth Keating, the U.S. ambassador to India, both called on President Nixon to discontinue their support of the Pakistani regime. Both diplomats were ignored and Blood was recalled. Overshadowing the genocide were the ongoing tensions of the Cold War. Nixon and his national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, considered Pakistan a close ally in the region. The U.S. provided weapons, and used Pakistan as a gateway to open diplomatic relations with China. Further complicating matters was India’s closeness with the Soviet Union. In August 1971 the two countries signed the “Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation” that seemed to indicate India would be relinquishing its role as a neutral bystander in the Cold War. Nixon and Kissinger were both terrified about the possibility of India intensifying their relationship with the U.S.S.R. and not overly concerned about Pakistan’s military action in Bangladesh—or the reaction of Americans who read about it. (…) As political scientist Gary J. Bass writes, “Above all, Bangladesh’s experience shows the primacy of international security over justice.” Despite gaining their independence, Bangladesh has struggled to overcome its bloody history. Although the current prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, has instituted an International War Crimes Tribunal, the process has specifically targeted Hasina’s political opposition, says the Heritage Foundation’s Lisa Curtis. In addition to highlighting how one country has struggled to come to terms with its past, Curtis says the Bangladesh genocide should be further studied to help understand how the U.S. deals with massive atrocities happening abroad.” [68]

Anam Zakaria: “By marking Genocide Day, Bangladesh seeks to remember what Pakistan wants to forget. March 25, the day before Bangladesh’s Independence Day, will commemorate the genocide during the 1971 liberation war. (…) Many nations around the world have violent pasts that they long to forget. Some choose to access those histories in order to heal and move on, while others diligently work to not only reconstruct their present self-image but also manipulate their histories in the process. Newer, purer versions are offered, carefully tailored and packaged to fit the state narratives. Pakistan’s engagement – or lack thereof – with its past perfectly encapsulates this process. Genocide day (…). As the name suggests, Operation Searchlight aimed to hunt down any Bengali who wanted a separate homeland, after decades of struggling for basic human rights under oppressive governments, dominated by West Pakistan. (…) The reality was that millions of East Pakistanis were exasperated by economic, political and cultural repression and had come to realise that independence was the only solution. Under Operation Searchlight, terror spread like wildfire in East Pakistan. Innocent and unarmed Bengalis were targeted and eliminated one by one. The army used the support of Islamist parties and their paramilitary wings, the likes of Al Badr and Al Shams, to launch an accompanying jihad with the goal of purifying the Bengalis of Hindu influences and making them true Muslims and, hence, true Pakistanis. Mass killings and rape marked every street and corner. Though figures are contested, it is estimated that anywhere between 300,000 to 3 million Hindus and Muslims, Bengalis and non-Bengalis were killed from March 1971 onwards. Operation Searchlight ignited an all-out war that served a huge blow to the West Pakistani establishment. By the end of the year, Pakistan stood utterly defeated both politically and militarily. On December 16, 1971, East Pakistan became Bangladesh. Those who had fought for their independence stood victorious but also deeply wounded by the months of killings, rape and bloodshed. On March 11, the Bangladeshi Parliament unanimously passed a motion declaring March 25, the night Operation Searchlight was launched, as Bangladesh’s Genocide Day, to commemorate the brutalities committed by West Pakistan. Selective memory. Meanwhile, Pakistan has used these 46 years to ensure that people forget the bloody and humiliating past. The defeat was not taken well in Pakistan. Not only had the state managed to lose the most populated wing of the nation barely two decades after independence, it had lost out to its greatest nemesis, India. Every effort was made to silence the narratives of the 1971 Partition. (…)In Pakistan, this loss was swallowed whole and then hardly ever spoken about. And it was easy to do so, especially once the Partition of 1971 was cast away as an Indian conspiracy. Today, just as Britain resists acknowledging its exploitative and violent colonial past, Pakistan too remains mum on the issue. Perhaps the best way to ensure that the silence is maintained is by strategically eliminating any alternative discourse. This butchered history taints the pages of state textbooks. The Class 9 and Class 10 Pakistan Studies textbook of the Federal Textbook Board of Islamabad portrays all bloodshed and instability as propagated by Indian-backed Bengalis, who have been painted as unruly, uncontrollable and violent. (…) Ideology, not history. No mention is made of the rape and murder of thousands of East Pakistani families. No mention is made of the brutality of West Pakistanis. Just as Hindus are portrayed as the sole instigators of violence in 1947, East Pakistanis are depicted as the perpetrators in 1971. The narrative becomes all the more powerful when they are equated with the impure Hindu “other”, funded and fuelled by the Indian state. (…)As state policy, Pakistan has always done an exceptional job at eradicating, distorting and denying its history. Roads or street signs that signify a non-Muslim past are hastily renamed, archeological sites that are meant to serve as evidence of history are shunned of their historical past; (…)History as a discipline is replaced by Pakistan Studies in schools so that it is ideology – and that too of the Islamic Republic – and not history that is taught.”[69]

The Hindu Business Line: “Muhajir Congress demands Pakistan’s apology for 1971 genocide. Pakistan must tender an unconditional apology to Bangladesh for the “genocide” committed by its troops during the 1971 war, a group claiming to speak for refugees has demanded. In a memorandum submitted to the Pakistani Embassy here, the World Muhajir Congress (WMC) (…) submitted on Wednesday, the 45th Anniversary of the ‘Fall of Dhaka’—when Bangladesh emerged as a new country. Muhajir is an Arabic-origin term used in Pakistan to describe Muslim immigrants, of multi-ethnic origin, and their descendants, who migrated from India after the Partition. The group strongly condemned the atrocities and brutal military action by the Pakistan Army against Bengalis in East Pakistan during the 1971 civil war. “It is very sad that till today none of the subsequent governments or institutions in Pakistan have accepted the reasons or responsibility for events in the former East Pakistan as well as for humiliating defeat in December 1971 that resulted in Pakistan losing its half territory and majority population,” it said. The WMC said it demands that the Pakistani government and authorities not only tender an unconditional apology to Bangladesh government and acknowledgement of the genocide committed in 1971 but also make Hamoodur Rahman Commission report public besides holding accountable and punishing those responsible for the “war crimes” committed in the then East Pakistan.”[70]

Sahidul Hasan Khokon: “Human rights activist and Pakistani poet Ahmed Salim, demanded the trial of the Pakistanis involved in the genocide in 1971. Salim urged young people of his country to work so that the government of Pakistan could realise the atrocities committed against humanity in 1971 in Bangladesh and to apologize to Bangladeshi people. He said the responsibility of the new generation of Pakistan is to bring the perpetrators of genocide to justice. Salim said that they will have to come forward to create public opinion on the issue of Pakistan government’s apology to the people of Bangladesh for genocide in 1971. He made the above statements at an event at Engineers’ Institution of the capital on Wednesday at Shahidjanani Jahanara Imam Memorial Commemorative Lecture and Memorial Medal distribution program. (…) Poet Ahmad Salim went to jail for writing poetry against the massacre of Pakistani soldiers in 1971. WAR OF LIBERATION. In 2012, the Bangladesh government honored him as a foreign friend contributing to the War of Liberation. In the address entitled ‘Condemnation of Bangladesh massacre in Pakistan’, Poet Ahmad Salim said that poets of Punjab in 1971, wrote poetry in the protest against massacre in Bangladesh, made statements in the newspapers, held meetings on the streets and went to jail for these reasons. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment for writing poetry about Madhusudan Dey, owner of Madhur Kantin, and other martyrs who were killed by Pakistani army on March 25. He remembered the time and said, “I was questioned in the military court that why I am taking sides with the Bengali people, my answer was straight. Those who kill people, they are not Panjabi or Pathan, but only killers.” Intellectuals Shami Kaiser, Dr Nuzhat Chowdhury and Tanvir Haider Chowdhury took part in the discussion. They said that changes in Pakistan-Bangladesh relations are not possible without acknowledging the genocide of 1971 and demanding apology for the people of Bangladesh. In this episode more Pakistani writers like Anam Zakaria and Haroon Khalid said the denial of genocide is very sad. (…)President of the Ghatak (killer) Dalal Nirmul Committee, writer and journalist Shahriar Kabir said in the introduction of the program that people of Bangladesh want recognition of genocide and that the time has some for Pakistan to seek state-level apology.”[71]

Inam Ahmed and Shakhawat Liton (The Daily Star): “At the end of his ruthless massacre and war against an unarmed people, General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi who led the Pakistan army in the killings, described the genocide of Bangalis in his book “Betrayal of East Pakistan” as “a display of stark cruelty more merciless than the massacres at Bukhara and Baghdad by Chengis Khan and Halaku khan or Jallianwala Bagh by the British General Dyer.” The world hardly paid heed to the ruthless killings going on in Bangladesh in those long nine months. The tales of the macabre were told and retold by countless many here. And yet, the world did not have time to listen. Forty-six years after the bloodbath that hardly left any family untouched, Bangladesh has finally taken initiatives to get recognition of the Pakistan army led genocide by the UN. Ahead of Bangladesh observing March 25, the day when the Pakistan army unleashed its war machine against a sleeping population, as Genocide Day, the government will send two senior officials to the UN headquarters in New York and the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) headquarters in Geneva. They will talk to senior UN officials to start the process of getting UN recognition of the Pakistani atrocity.  “This is a tall task, needing support from many,” Shahriar Alam, state minister for foreign affairs, told The Daily Star yesterday. “We will approach those countries like Russia, India and the UK which had supported our cause in 1971 so that these countries pass resolutions in their own parliaments to recognize the killings in Bangladesh as genocide.” (…)The New York Times in a piece in May of 1971 called the killing “one of the bloodiest slaughters of modern times.” In April that year, New York Times, in an editorial headlined “Bloodbath in Bengal,” condemned Washington’s silence on what it called the “indiscriminate slaughter of civilians and the selective elimination of leadership groups in East Bengal.” The Sunday Times published articles and editorials under headlines of “Genocide.” The US Consul General in Dhaka, Archer Blood, sent a telegram to Washington headed with the phrase “Selective Genocide.” (…) The then UN Secretary General, U Thant, on June 3, 1971, wrote to the President of the Security Council saying “The happenings in East Pakistan constitute one of the most tragic episodes in human history. Of course, it is for future historians to gather facts and make their own evaluations, but it has been a very terrible blot on a page of human history.” But world leaders would not pay much attention to these pleas in the then complicated geo-politics. The onus of having it recognised internationally as genocide and for the dead to be recognised as victims of genocide fell on Bangladesh. (…)What significance will UN recognition have? First, it will officially document the atrocities of war against this population by a brutal regime. For humanity to move forward, it has strong significance. A crime has been committed and that has to be recognised as a crime. Otherwise, humanity will see recurrence of genocides. It is also a process of shaming the perpetrators. Secondly, if Bangladesh takes forward charges against the Pakistani leaders and soldiers for war crimes in international courts, this recognition will help it happen as such recognition has been in the case of the Bosnian genocide.”[72]

Malik Siraj Akbar: “From Bangladesh to Balochistan: Pakistan Owes an Apology. A few prominent Bangladeshi writers have also begun to publicly endorse their government’s demand that Pakistan should apologize for the war crimes of 1971 during the country’s freedom struggle. Tahmima Anam, a Bangladeshi novelist, sought a similar apology from Pakistan in an article in the New York Times on December 26, 2013. (…) I still feel her pain and unconditionally support the demand she has put forward to Islamabad. What Ms. Anam termed as “history” are actually current affairs to me and the people of my generation from Pakistan’s largest province of Balochistan. (…)Before the Bengalis experienced genocide in 1971, Baluchistan, Pakistan’s gas-rich province, had already faced three full-fledged operations from the same Pakistani army that subsequently engaged in ethnic cleansing of the Bengalis. (…)Two years after the independence of Bangladesh, Pakistan unleashed another military assault on Balochistan that killed thousands of political opponents, tribesmen and professionals. (…)Pakistan does not apologize from Bangladesh because it is clearly convinced that it can abuse people’s rights and still get away with it. Since 2004, Pakistan has been carrying out an unabated military operation in Balochistan. This is the fifth operation the Baluchs are facing from the army dominated by ethnic Punjabis. Thousands of Baluch political activists, students, writers and doctors have “disappeared“ in a fashion similar to Argentina’s Dirty War. Even the Bengalis did not experience such widespread disappearances. Some of the Baluchs have gone missing for nearly a decade. Hundreds of these disappeared people, aged between 18 and 24, are routinely tortured in illegal custody and their dead bodies were thrown in deserted places in what are known as “kill and dump“ operations. (…)Pakistan does not offer an apology nor does it feel accountable for its actions. In a way, Pakistan’s confidence comes from the billions of dollars it receives from the United States. Washington deliberately closes its eyes when its South Asian ally commits human rights abuses against its ethnic and religious minorities. While the Bengalis suffered because of President Nixon’s indifference, the Baluchs are a victim of Obama’s negligence and tolerance for Pakistan’s indulgence in the Baloch massacre. Unless the world intervenes in Baluchistan to end what American journalist Selig S. Harrison described as the “slow-motion genocide” of the Baluch, Islamabad will express no regrets with what it did with the Bengalis. (…) The Bengalis, just like the Baluch, should instead ask impartial international tribunals to put Pakistani army officers and intelligence agents on trial responsible for the killing of thousands of our people. Forgiving and forgetting will only empower and emboldens human rights abusers. Lastly, writers, intellectuals and human rights defenders from ethnic and religious minority groups across the world and in different regions should form professional alliances to highlight under-reported tragedies. It is better to save human lives by highlighting an issue on the right time instead of seeking an apology once a massacre has already taken place.”[73]

MARLEE TOWNSEND: “I will focus on dehumanization, extermination, and denial for this blog to bring awareness by shedding light on and bearing witness to the history of the Bengali people. For clarity, dehumanization is defined as when one group denies the humanity of another group, extermination is the action of mass killing itself, and denial refers to the perpetrator’s effort to disprove that the genocide ever occurred. During the 1970s, a genocide took place in present-day Bangladesh. Rough estimates approximate a death toll numbers of nearly 3 million. The systematic annihilation of the Bengali people by the Pakistani army during the Bangladesh Liberation War, targeted Hindu men, academics, and professionals, spared the women from murder, but subjected nearly 400,000 to rape and sexual enslavement. (…)West Pakistan looked down upon their eastern neighbors, calling the area “a low-lying land of low-lying people” who “polluted” the area with non-Muslim values (Jones 2010). This is a clear demonstration of dehumanization which Stanton says “overcomes the normal human revulsion against murder” by equating the victimized groups to vermin and filth. Lacking empathy for their disregarded neighbors, the people of West Pakistan abused their eastward neighbors economically and through lack of aid. (…)Additionally, West Pakistan neglected to send adequate aid following the Bhola Cyclone that ravaged East Pakistan, and left close to 500,000 dead in 1970 (Pai 2008). The amalgamation of denied human rights contributed to the commencement of the Bengali independence movement. In response to the Bengali’s call to secede, West Pakistan developed Operation Searchlight. Operation Searchlight is seen by many as the first step in the Bengali genocide (Pai 2008). Per the Bangladesh Genocide Archives, the operation, initiated on March 25, 1971, resulted in the death of between 5,000 and 100,000 Bengalis in a single night. Forces of the Pakistani Army targeted academics and Hindus, specifically murdering many Hindu university students and professors. The goal of the operation was to crush the Bengali nationalist movement through fear; however, the opposite occurred. Enraged at the actions of the Pakistan Army, Bangladesh declared its independence the following day (Whyte and Lin Yong 2010). Over several months, the Pakistani Army conducted mass killings of young, able-bodied Hindu men. According to R.J. Rummel, “the Pakistan army [sought] out those especially likely to join the resistance — young boys. Sweeps were conducted of young men who were never seen again. Bodies of youths would be found in fields, floating down rivers, or near army camps” (Carpenter 2016). Men became primary targets (almost 80 percent male, as reported by the Bangladesh Genocide Archives). The abduction and subsequent rape of women by soldiers took place in camps for months. Many more were subject to “hit and run” rapes. Hit and run rape explains the brutality of forcing male family member –before their own death– view the rape of their female family member by soldiers (Pai 2008). The use of rape, as a weapon of war by Pakistani forces, violated 200,000 – 400,000 Bengali women during March and December 1971. The high number represents the complicity of religious leaders who openly supported the rape of Bengali women, referring to victims as “war booty” (D’Costa 2011). Archer Blood, American ambassador to India, communicated the horrors to US officials. Unfortunately, the United States refused to respond because of Pakistan’s status as a Cold War ally. President Nixon, taking on a flippant and discriminatory attitude, regarded the genocide as a trivial matter, assuming a disinterested American public due to the race and religion of the victims. His belief that no one would care because the atrocities were happening to people of the Muslim faith (Mishra 2013), created an uninformed and disconnected America concerning the Bengali genocide of 1971.  “Our government has failed to denounce the suppression of democracy. Our government has failed to denounce atrocities… Our government has evidenced what many will consider moral bankruptcy.” – Archer Blood, American ambassador to India. Pai (2008) suggests the Pakistani Army strategized the genocide into three phases over the course of 1971: 1) Operation Searchlight was the first phase as discussed earlier, which took place from late March to early May. It began as a massive murder campaign during the night of March 25, 1971. The indiscriminate use of heavy artillery in urban areas, particularly in Dhaka, killed many, including Hindu students at Dhaka University. 2) Search and Destroy was the second where Pakistani forces methodically slaughtered villages from May to October. This is the longest phase because this is when Bengali forces mobilized and began to fight back; rebel Bengali forces “used superior knowledge of the local terrain to deny the army a chance to dominate the countryside”. This was also the phase in which the Pakistan army targeted women to rape, abduct, and enslave. 3) “Scorched Earth” was the third phase beginning in early December, and targeted and killed 1,000 intellectuals and professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and engineers in Dhaka. The Pakistani Army surrendered to Indian forces days later, ending the genocide on December 16, 1971. Though Bangladesh established its initial independence directly following Operation Searchlight, the people of Bangladesh established themselves and their nation as a peaceful country, and began the reconciliation process. The American government has never acknowledged the actions of the Pakistan Army as a genocide. Henry Kissinger characterized it as unwise and immoral, but never termed it to be genocidal. The horrible acts that occurred to the Bengali people was clearly a genocide under the terms of the UN Convention on the Convention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948. Pai (2008) asserts, (…) Pakistan army as guilty of perpetrating genocide. To this day, Pakistan has continued to explicitly deny the occurrence of a genocide.  Despite this, the atrocities that mark the journey to Bangladesh’s independence have not swayed the Bengali people; their rich culture and flourishing country provide clear evidence.”[74]

Anis Ahmed: “Bangladesh 1971: War Crimes, Genocide and Crimes against Humanity Operation Search Light: The Targets. Introduction. The genocide committed in Bangladesh in 1971 is widely considered to be one of the worst genocides in recent history. But this genocide, despite the indiscriminate killings of a huge number of innocent men, women and children was also very much target oriented. Hence the fact that this military operation was code-named Operation Search Light is self explanatory in the definition and the scope of the operation itself. But this is in no way to imply that because it was a targeted killing, it was any less than genocide rather on the contrary it was the worst kind of genocide for two very specific reasons. Firstly the targets were mostly civilians and secondly although Bengali paramilitary forces (East Pakistan Rifles) and police were attacked right on the night of March 25 1971 when the operation started, the attack was an undeclared war on the basis of ethnic identity. Therefore although the objectives and operation were well defined and the target of killings and tortures of all degree and dimensions were preplanned, this in no way reduces the responsibility of causing genocide in Bangladesh from March 25,1971 till December 16, 1971. It must be remembered that the broader target was the entire Bengali population in the erstwhile East Pakistan. According to Asia Times, ‘ at a meeting of the military top brass Yahya Khan declared,” Kill three millions of them, the rest will eat of our hands“. Accordingly on the night of 25 March, the Pakistani Army launched Operation Searchlight to crush Bengali resistance in which Bengali members of military services were disarmed and killed, students and the intelligentsia systematically liquidated and able bodied Bengali males just picked up and gunned down. According to various sources three million people were killed by the Pakistani Armed Forces and their accomplices in Bangladesh. It was one of the largest genocides in the modern known history. I must admit that the scope of discussion on this genocide is too wide to be encompassed in this discussion within this short time. I will, therefore, specifically focus on two targets of Operation Searchlight namely the students and the women. Reasons for Students as Principle Targets If we take a look into the making of Bangladesh and the struggle the Bengali nation had to go through soon after the creation of Pakistan in August 1947, we must say that the students in the erstwhile East Bengal played a vital role. (…) the students were found everywhere in their struggles and sacrifices for the nation. Students in Bangladesh were forward looking progressive bunch of young men and women who supported Bengali Nationalism not because they were narrow nationalistic but Bengali Nationalism to them meant a freedom from the shackles of an artificially imposed sense of nationalism based on religious divisions which was contrary to the history of South Asia where Hindus and Muslims have lived in peace and harmony over several centuries. The students, therefore, in the eyes of the Pakistani junta were seen opposed to the very notion of a communal Pakistan. The Bengali students were seen first as a potential threat to Pakistan and then as an actual threat when the Language Movement in Bangladesh gradually evolved into a broader socio-political and economic movement for the emancipation of the Bengalis who comprised the majority in Pakistan and contributed the lion’s share into the exchequer of the country. (…) Once again the students came forward in support of the provincial autonomy which was seen as the last possible solution for the apparent integrity of Pakistan. But that resort was destroyed when despite election results going in favor of autonomy, the then military junta in Pakistan combined with Islamic fundamentalists refused to grant autonomy or hand the power over to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who from 1969 came to be known as Bangabandhu, the friend of Bengal. Eventually again the students in Dhaka University were the first to design and hoist a flag of an Independent Bangladesh. This definitely was a cause of fury for forces opposed to democracy and human rights. During the entire period of non-violent, non-cooperation movement between March 1 and March 25, the students protested vehemently against the Pakistani conspiracy of undoing the first ever held national election on the basis of adult franchise in the country. In a nutshell, the students in the erstwhile East Bengal which was later named East Pakistan played the most important role throughout the evolution of Bengali Nationalism in Bangladesh. Attack on Dormitories of Dhaka University. The first simultaneous attacks came on what was then known as Iqbal Hall, a student dormitory and Jagannath Hall of Dhaka University. (…) The massacre on the 25th March actually began from Dhaka University. After dormitories have been shelled at a point blank range, any students remaining alive were shot or bayoneted to death. (…) But this was just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to Jagannath Hall and the erstwhile Iqbal Hall, students of all ages , irrespective of their religious or gender identity were killed, tortured or at the least humiliated. Students were considered as the harbinger of the Independence Movement of 1971 and hence they were the principle target of murder and atrocities in 1971. Neither gender nor age was a factor in deterring the perpetrators of war crime from committing atrocities and murder. Female students were not spared either. In this context it is very important to note that female students too were subject to equal subjugation and torture by the Pakistani Army. On March 30, 1971, the American Consul General in Dhaka, Archer Blood, sent a telegram to the State Department recounting the Pakistani atrocities in Dhaka. In it he wrote about the massacre at Rokeya Hall at Dhaka University where, according to Blood, the building was “set ablaze and girls machine-gunned as they fled the building.” (…)Small notes they may be, but they bear a very big footmark of the atrocities of the Pakistani Army and their collaborators in crime. It may be mentioned that during the early days of Operation Searchlight Pakistani army killed students instantaneously by shooting or by launching rockets in the dorms. But when the dorms were emptied and the surviving students fled this Operation Searchlight intensified and was extended even to remote villages. Students were rarely shot at sight, on the other hand they were caught, interrogated if they had links with the Freedom Fighters or Mukti Bahini and even if they had not any link or it was not proven, the innocent students were tortured and slowly killed. (…) Bengali Women as Target of Torture & Atrocities in 1971. Women in an essentially male dominated society, even to this day, have always been a vulnerable section of the populace and their vulnerability was adequately exploited by Pakistani Junta and their collaborators. They were made targets of torture in either of two ways: a. Directly through Rape and Subjugation b. By Applying Gendercide where able Men in the family were killed leaving the Women helpless. During the nine months of military crackdown on the entire Bengali civilian population in Bangladesh, according to Bangladesh Government at least 200,000 Bengali women of all ages were raped and ravished. After the Liberation of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman , the founding father of the country tried to honor these dishonored girls and women by naming them the War Heroines and had ordered to prepare of list of these persons who were subjected to sexual torture of the highest degree. (…)In the meantime, many of them committed suicide and some of them who were pregnant by the Pakistani soldiers or their associates left for Pakistan where they thought they would remain unidentified beyond the boundary of their own sociery. Shahriar Kabir, in his book, Tormenting Seventy One quotes Professor Nilima Ibrahim, former Head of Bengali in Dhaka University and Director, Bangla Academy saying that 30/40 raped women were leaving country along with the War Detainees who were going to India in 1972. (…) “They tell the husbands the women were victims and must be considered national heroines. Some men have taken their spouses back home, but these are very, very few.” She adds, 200,000, 300,000 or possible 400,000 women (three sets of statistics have been variously quoted) were raped. (…)Susan Brownmiller also mentions about Hit and Run Rape committed by Pakistani Army and their collaborators in Bangladesh. She also mentions about the Biharis and the Razakars taking active part in the rape of Bengali women and girls. (…)The accepted figure of pregnant women through rape by the Pakistani army and their paramilitary forces with Bengali and non Bengali collaborators is estimated around 25,000. Many were able to go for abortion, some well to do went to Kolkata, many were treated by rural quakes resulting in deaths and sterility amongst women. Brownmiller writes, “Dr. Geoffrey Davis of the London-based International Abortion Research and Training Centre who worked for months in the remote countryside of Bangladesh reported that he had heard of “countless” incidents of suicide and infanticide during his travels. Rat poison and drowning were the available means. Davis also estimated that five thousand women had managed to abort themselves by various indigenous methods, with attendant medical complications”. (…) However, apart from direct raping of women, Pakistani Army and their collaborators also committed a crime of gendercide. In additon to calling it a genocide, the killing could also be termed as genderecide where selective killings were done amongst the adult male Bengali population. The war against the Bengali population proceeded in classic gendercidal fashion. According to Anthony Mascarenhas, “There is no doubt whatsoever about the targets of the genocide”: They were: (1) The Bengali militarymen of the East Bengal Regiment, the East Pakistan Rifles, police and paramilitary Ansars and Mujahids. (2) The Hindus […] (3) The Awami Leaguers — all office bearers and volunteers down to the lowest link in the chain of command. (4) The students — college and university boys and some of the more militant girls. (5) Bengali intellectuals such as professors and teachers whenever damned by the army as “militant.” (…)This gendercide had another consequence. While men were being kidnapped and killed, women were raped. Bengali women were targeted for gender-selective atrocities and abuses, notably gang sexual assault and rape Indeed despite, and perhaps because of, overwhelming targeting of males for mass murder, it is for the systematic brutalization of women that the Rape of Bangladesh is best known western observers. Susan Brownmiller in her book, Against Our Will: Men Women and Rape writes, 200,000, 300,000 or possibly 400,000 women were raped. (…)   The Pakistanis, in their failed attempt of Islamization in Bangladesh, adopted this particular cruel and anti human approach of cleansing the followers of particular faith. Brownmiller further writes, “Rape in Bangladesh had hardly been restricted to beauty. Girls of eight and grandmothers of seventy five had been sexually assaulted.” Brownmiller also says, “Pakistani soldiers had not only violated Bengali women on the spot ; they abducted tens and hundreds and held them by force in their military barracks for nightly use. This therefore proves that the effect of genercide on Bengali women folk was devastating. It may be mentioned here that many women were not only raped, their bodies were ripped off, their sexual organs mutilated and bayoneted and the naked dead bodies were thrown away to feed the scavangers. Finally I would once again emphasize on the point, as I did a couple of years ago at a seminar in New York that acts which are considered as war crimes took place in Bangladesh. They include rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution or forced pregnancy. Killing and all other forms of atrocities carried on different section of people, with a common denomination of being Bengali, in the erstwhile East Pakistan are war crimes and generally crime against humanity.”[75]

Sanghamitra Bora: “Testimony of Aleya begum, who was kidnapped at the age of 13, ganged raped for 13 months rejected by her family at the end of the war (…). The army tied our hands, burned our faces and bodies with cigarettes. There were thousands of women like me. They gang raped us many times a day. My body was swollen, I could barely move. They still did not leave us alone. They never fed us rice, just gave us dry bread once a day and sometimes a few vegetables. We tried to escape but always failed. When the girls were of little use they killed them.  (…)  Rape was deployed as the primary weapon of war and within six months 200,000 and 430,000 women were raped systemically by the Pakistani soldiers as well as the locals. It is pertinent for one to note that the dominant narratives on understanding the 1971 liberation war is largely centered on the nationalist discourses, emergence and assertion of India’s position in the region, victory and loss of the great powers involved. Whereas the gendercide launched not only by the Pakistani soldiers and the local Bengali collaborators but also the state continue to remainas the marginal narratives of understanding the war. The Pre- independence gendercide. In the nine months of Bangladesh’s war of independence, particularly Bengali Muslim women were targeted but Christian and Hindu women were also not exempted. Women aged 7 to 75 years old were abducted, sexually abused and assaulted, repeatedly gang-raped and also held captive by the Pakistani soldiers as sex slaves of the war. Many were murdered after “sufficing” the need of the Pakistani soldiers others committed suicide, and some were set free with an “impure Bengali identity”in the pretext to maintain a Pakistani identity. The Post- independence gendercide. (…) (After the independence) all the efforts to reintegrate these women in the society tremendously failed. They were ultimately labelled as “the fallen women” or “prostitutes”. Due to the social stigma attached to it, they were isolated, shunned from the society and were refused to be accepted by their own family. The state was perhaps a lurking threat which further marginalized these already ostracized women. (…) The government’s tactful strategy to rehabilitate, was to make abortions legal and more than 170,000 impregnated women’s bodies were violated, as they had to go through forced abortion. The state also initiated giving up the war babies for adoption, more than 30,000 babies were born. Nilima Ibrahim, a prominent social worker, in her book ‘Ami BirangonaBolchi’ she mentions that when questioned about the status of the war babies, the Prime Minister Sheikh MujiburRehman said “Please send away the children who do not have their father’s identity. They should be raised as human beings with honor. Besides, I do not want to keep those polluted blood in this country.”Another “commendable” attempt was to initiate “marry them off” campaign, which encouraged the unmarried Birangonas to be accepted in the society. This program was launched to reintegrate the birangonas into the society, as their families were reluctant to take them back. In the post-independence Bangladesh, the state perpetrated gendercide has not only further repressed these women but also silenced them forever. (…) Many official documents makes no mention of the experiences of these women or the gendercide in Bangladesh. As of 2015, 41 Birangonas were recognized officially by the state and another 26 war heroines were added in 2016, to the freedom fighters list. These women would be entitled to the same benefits as that of the freedom fighters. The liberation war, was one of the worst atrocities committed against the women, after the Bosnian crisis. Yet, this has gained very little attention of the world.”[76]

 

[1] https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/asia-and-the-pacific/pakistan/report-pakistan/

[2] https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/pakistan

[3] https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/02/14/un-refugee-agency-must-break-its-silence-pakistan

[4] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-37163857

[5] https://www.dawn.com/news/1289700

[6] https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/pakistan-man-exonerated-after-serving-9-years-for-blasphemy/

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/28/pakistan-supreme-court-blasphemy-mumtaz-qadri

[8] https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/800955/asia-bibi-christian-mum-death-row-pakistan-sentence-extended-supreme-court

[9] https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/coe/islamic-leader-calls-for-prompt-execution-of-asia-bibi/

[10] https://www.dawn.com/news/750512/timeline-accused-under-the-blasphemy-law

[11] http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2018/01/05/u-s-places-pakistan-severe-religious-rights-violations-watch-list/

[12] https://europeangreens.eu/content/human-rights-violations-state-pakistan

[13] http://unpo.org/article/20081

[14] https://www.pakistanpressfoundation.org/new-alliance-forced-conversion-hr-violation/

[15] https://www.pakistanpressfoundation.org/pakistan-needs-ban-forced-conversion-group/

[16] https://www.dawn.com/news/679569

[17] https://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/fidh_hrcp_briefer_en.pdf

[18] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-12621225

[19] https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/05/living-fear-under-pakistan-blasphemy-law-20145179369144891.html

[20] https://www.economist.com/news/asia/21635070-pakistans-blasphemy-laws-legitimise-intolerance-bad-mouthing

[21] https://www.christianpost.com/news/muslim-cleric-accused-to-framing-christian-girl-of-blasphemy-is-freed-by-pakistan-court-amid-witness-death-threat-rumors-102641/

[22] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/sep/05/pakistans-blasphemy-laws-colossal-absurdity

[23] http://www.bbc.com/news/10418643

[24] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-12617562

[25] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/11/pakistan-man-sentenced-to-death-for-blasphemy-on-facebook

[26] https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/09/18/pakistan-text-message-can-lead-death-sentence

[27] https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/asia-and-the-pacific/pakistan/report-pakistan/

[28] https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/pakistan

[29] https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/pakistan

[30] https://nation.com.pk/13-Sep-2014/icj-urges-pakistan-to-halt-execution

[31] http://www.dw.com/en/pakistan-journalism-student-latest-victim-of-blasphemy-vigilantes/a-38433834

[32] https://www.dawn.com/news/1149558/the-untold-story-of-pakistans-blasphemy-law

[33] https://www.dawn.com/news/1154856/the-fatwas-that-can-change-pakistans-blasphemy-narrative

[34] https://www.dawn.com/news/1163596

[35] https://web.archive.org/web/20110724001257/http://www.pakistannews.net/story/492878

[36] https://ahmerjamilkhan.org/2013/02/21/an-assessment-of-pakistans-human-rights-record/

[37] https://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/fidh_hrcp_briefer_en.pdf

[38] https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/asia-and-the-pacific/pakistan/report-pakistan/

[39] https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/pakistan

[40] https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/10/12/pakistan-should-end-child-marriage

[41] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/malik-siraj-akbar/pakistan-human-rights-watch_b_2612306.html

[42] https://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/fidh_hrcp_briefer_en.pdf

[43] https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/asia-and-the-pacific/pakistan/report-pakistan/

[44] http://unpo.org/article/20043

[45] https://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/fidh_hrcp_briefer_en.pdf

[46] https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/asia-and-the-pacific/pakistan/report-pakistan/

[47] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-38454483

[48] http://dailycaller.com/2017/09/26/isis-is-growing-in-pakistan/

[49] https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/protest-outside-un-on-paks-forceful-occupation-of-balochistan-since-1948-1458440

[50] https://tribune.com.pk/story/871142/raising-his-voice-21000-missing-in-balochistan-says-mama-qadeer/

[51] https://news.vice.com/article/we-are-suffering-genocide-at-the-hands-of-pakistan-an-interview-with-blf-commander-allah-nazar

[52] https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/articles/opinion/eu-cannot-ignore-dire-human-rights-situation-balochistan

[53] http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/balochistan-hundreds-people-abducted-murdered-by-pakistan-army-activists-warn-1491457

[54] https://www.dawn.com/news/752488/enforced-disappearances-cause-of-unrest-mengal-submits-six-point-plan-on-balochistan

[55] http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Impoverished-Balochistan-bleeds-through-a-thousand-cuts/article14574380.ece

[56] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/jan/28/pakistan-balochistan-nationalists-islamabad

[57] https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/11/16/pakistani-senator-works-end-enforced-disappearances

[58] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/mar/29/balochistan-pakistans-secret-dirty-war

[59] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-26272897

[60] https://thediplomat.com/2014/01/balochistans-missing-persons/

[61] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jul/28/pakistan-military-campaign-balochistan-hrw

[62] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/malik-siraj-akbar/betrayal-in-balochistan_b_7302984.html

[63] https://www.dawn.com/news/752635/balochistan-case-sc-resumes-hearing-10

[64] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/30/world/asia/30disappear.html?_r=2

[65] https://www.hrw.org/news/2011/07/28/pakistan-security-forces-disappear-opponents-balochistan

[66] http://balochwarna.com/2017/03/14/baloch-genocide-and-silence-of-un/

[67] http://www.firstpost.com/world/pakistan-military-started-genocide-of-1971-that-killed-3-million-says-sheikh-hasina-at-unga-4070551.html

[68] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/genocide-us-cant-remember-bangladesh-cant-forget-180961490/

[69] https://scroll.in/article/832420/by-marking-genocide-day-bangladesh-seeks-to-remember-what-pakistan-wants-to-forget

[70] http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/world/muhajir-congress-demands-pakistans-apology-for-1971-genocide/article9994526.ece

[71] https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/bangladesh-genocide-war-of-1971-pakistan-poet-punjab-1026708-2017-07-27

[72] http://www.thedailystar.net/frontpage/genocide-1971-govt-moves-get-un-recognition-1379065

[73] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/malik-siraj-akbar/from-bangladesh-to-baloch_b_4534394.html

[74] https://cas.uab.edu/humanrights/2017/04/21/bangladesh-forgotten-genocide/

[75]http://www.kean.edu/~bgsg/Conference09/Papers_and_Presentations/Anis%20Ahmed_Paper_OperationSearchlight.pdf

[76] https://en.womenchapter.com/are-we-forgetting-the-gendercide-of-the-bangladesh-liberation-war/

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