By Markandey Katju
May 29, 2014
Is Pakistan rapidly degenerating into a Jurassic Park? Consider the following events:
On 7.5.2014 an eminent lawyer and human rights activist, Rashid Rehman Khan, was shot dead by some assailants while he was sitting in his lawyer’s office. He was evidently killed because he was representing a University teacher, Junaid Hafeez, in a blasphemy case. During the trial proceedings he was threatened in open court by some lawyers that unless he withdraws from the case he will be killed.
In Pakistan lawyers and witnesses for the defence in blasphemy cases are almost invariably threatened that if they do not withdraw they will be assassinated. Many judges are scared to hear such cases or to acquit the accused even if there is no credible evidence against him.
Rashid Rehman Khan was a very active human rights worker in Pakistan, and was a coordinator of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan... Whenever a person died in custody he would take up his case. If a woman’s face was burnt with acid, he would rush to get her medical help. He fought against ‘honour killing’ of young girls. He trekked the most backward area of Dera Ghazi Khan, a tribal area, and documented the misery of people living there. He went to that part of Rahim Yar Khan where low caste Hindus live without any rights, and reported their plight... He was the first to take up Mukhtaran Mai’s case. He fought Sherry Rehman’s persecutors up to the High Court level. He had special interest in the welfare of peasants, and demanded land reforms and tenants’ rights ( in much of Pakistan landlordism still prevails).
Despite all this, consider what followed his murder:
1. Journalists in his home town Multan did not dare to write about his murder.
2. Judges in Lahore High Court are avoiding hearing Aasia Bibi’s appeal
3. Multan police is not seriously investigating the murder.
4. There have been no serious protests against this dastardly crime, and most Pakistanis remain mum, obviously out of fear.
Also, consider the following:
On 12.05.2014 Dr Faisal Manzoor, a prominent Shia medical practitioner, was gunned down outside his hospital in Hasanabdad. Dr Faizal, after getting his medical degree, could have gone to America or England, like many other doctors and earned a lot of money there, but instead he chose to go to his small home town to serve the people there, where he built a modern hospital. When an earthquake struck North Pakistan he loaded a truck with medicines, food, blankets and tents, and headed north, where he camped and distributed help to the needy. Why was he killed? Because he was a prominent Shia.
Similarly Dr Ali Haider, an eye surgeon, along with his son was shot dead in Lahore. Dr Babar, Dr Faizal’s cousin, was also shot dead. What were their climes? That they were Shias. Many other such examples can be given.
On 28.5.2014 a pregnant woman, Farzana Parveen, was stoned to death in midday outside the Lahore High Court in a busy thoroughfare as an ‘honour killing’ for marrying a man against the wishes of her parents. Her father, brothers, and cousins were among the assailants. One family member tied her neck with a cloth, while others smashed her skull with bricks. All this was done in the public gaze. Her father later said he killed his daughter because she had dishonoured the family, and he had no regrets.
According to reports, about 1000 girls are victims of ‘honour killings’ every year. 83% Pakistanis support stoning to death for adultery. One couple killed their daughter for ‘dishonouring’ them by throwing acid on her face.
Minorities in Pakistan (Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Ahmedis, and Shias) live in a state of fear, and are particularly vulnerable
This is the inevitable consequence of declaring Pakistan as an Islamic state.
DISCLAIMER: Views expressed above are the author's own.