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News Analysis
 
 
Ahmad Noorani
Saturday, February 02, 2013
From Print Edition
 
 

 

ISLAMABAD: In yet another display of politically motivated opinions, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has ignored the PPP government’s failure to check massive human rights violations in Pakistan in its latest global report for the year 2012 but has once again come up with a charge-sheet against the country’s independent judiciary.

 

Implicitly favouring the present regime, the HRW has based its opinion on half-truths, complete lies, distorted facts and subjective views.

 

The US-based HRW report seems to be a clear attempt to further fuel already intense sectarian violence and to create chaos and disorder in Pakistan.

 

Once again the organisation has repeated its allegation in an indirect way that Shia Muslims in Pakistan are being killed at the behest of the Pakistan Army.

 

HRW has again alleged that media independence is being hurt in Pakistan because of the judiciary despite the fact that HRW failed to carry out an independent inquiry into the November 2012 press release on the same subject which was rejected by the whole Pakistani media and HRW’s credibility was badly hurt.

 

HRW Pakistan chapter was completely exposed last year when it became part of a hearing in a US House committee working on break-up (Balkanisation) of Pakistan by giving ‘independence’ to Balochistan.

 

In its latest report what the HRW could not see is the government’s incompetence, massive corruption, misrule and failure to protect the basic human rights including the existing situation where according to independent international institutions more than half of the population of country (around 100 million people) are facing ‘food insecurity’.

 

Independent journalist Christina Lamb tweeted simply two days back as follows: “Shocking stat - Pakistan’s est. population now 182m of which 90m are ‘food insecure’. Pak is world’s 5th largest wheat producer.”

 

However, where independent institutions, experts and analysts are exposing the PPP government’s failure in almost all fields, the biased HRW and its politically motivated and pro-PPP Pakistani director Ali Dayan Hasan has praised the PPP government by distorting facts. HRW report made only a passing reference to the price hike while simply ignoring mega issues related to basic human rights like life security, food security and basic needs to survive as a human being.

 

Following is point-wise narration of the contents of HRW report and factual position. Readers are the best judge to decide how Pakistan is being deliberately converted into a battlefield by use of such human rights organisations, which report on everything but the condition of human beings and their rights.

 

The HRW World Report 2013 (events of 2012) regarding Pakistan starts as: “Pakistan had a turbulent year in 2012, with the judicial ouster of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani....” Thus the biggest human right violation of the year 2012, according to Mr Ali Dayan Hasan, was the ouster of former Prime Minister Gilani by the Supreme Court after completion of due process of law. Gilani had rejected around a dozen orders of the apex court to write a letter to the Swiss authorities and was sitting on cases of plundering of billions of rupees of national wealth of this poor country. HRW did not even mention that the next Prime Minister wrote this letter as he was legally and constitutionally bound to do so.

 

Freedom of expression: HRW report narrates instances of killings of eight journalists in Pakistan and an attack on a media house but instead of explaining the failure of the government to provide security to the media men, the report simply shows its bias and fixes the responsibility on the Pakistan Army.

 

Strangely, the report discusses the ruling PPP only at one place in this section of media freedom and admires the government in following words: “However, as has been the case since the return to civilian rule in 2008, journalists vocally critical of the government experienced less interference from elected officials than in previous years.”

 

What HRW simply forgot to mention was that the ruling PPP started taking revenge from independent media organisations from the very first day when these organisations were siding with the independent judiciary during the historic lawyers’ movement. The PPP government was hell bent not to restore the deposed judges and was acting against the critical media. It continued even after the restoration of the judiciary.

 

HRW simply ignored the attacks by the mobs of the ruling party on the offices of newspapers and TV stations. In 2010, when Pakistanis were facing the devastating floods and the British media published a news item about Pakistani rulers’ foreign visit. Pakistan’s media only monitored this British media news coverage and the very next day the bundles of The News were set on fire by the PPP workers in different parts of the country.

 

Besides, HRW also ignored the known fact that the PPP government had banned government advertisements for those newspapers and channels which were reporting independently and were criticising the government. Not only this, even the private business houses were threatened by a powerful PPP minister not to do business with these newspapers and news channels.

 

The PPP government launched a war against the media and its ministers held press conferences to malign independent journalists and attack their integrity only for the reason of reporting stories on government’s corruption.

 

Last but not the least, even this correspondent is facing two major cases in Pakistani courts. One was filed by a federal minister in Islamabad High Court (IHC) for filing a story on NICL scandal. It is important to mention here that a commission set up by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, after thorough investigations, declared the story of this scribe as true. But the case in IHC is still pending. Another case was filed in a Lahore court by a PPP leader and the only allegation in the case is that this scribe and some senior journalists have written stories against NRO and rulers.

 

For the information of HRW and other human rights workers in Pakistan, three arrest warrants of this scribe and some senior journalists have been issued in this fake case.

 

However, Ali Dayan’s love for the PPP knows no bounds and HRW has appreciated the government on this count.

 

Judicial activism and independence: HRW attacked Pakistan’s independent and widely respected judiciary on account of taking up memo case. HRW report conveniently avoided mentioning findings of the Judicial Commission on Memogate, which has declared that the memo was a reality and was written to seek US intervention in Pakistan.

 

The reason HRW attacks the Supreme Court in this regard could be well judged by the readers. The report talks about backlog of cases in courts, which is based on some wrong and biased reporting. As far as the Supreme Court is concerned, the disposal of cases as compared to the past has become very fast after the restoration of judiciary and backlog is now much smaller than the past.

 

HRW again attacked the Supreme Court’s suo moto jurisdiction for obvious reasons. Through this jurisdiction, Pakistan’s superior courts not only take up cases of mega corruption of the present PPP government but most of the cases taken up are human rights cases in which thousands of poor Pakistanis, who could not avail justice through normal process of law and because of the worst corruption and bad governance in different government departments, were given relief.

 

In this section the HRW report repeats it findings, which it gave through a press release two months back; that Pakistan’s judiciary is muzzling media independence through different orders. However, the same report was rejected by the entire Pakistani media. A senior analyst who frequently used to criticise the judiciary had to admit after this two-month old HRW report that though he was the biggest critic of the judiciary but he never faced any pressure. This senior analyst, who had praised HRW on many occasions in the past, declared this report as ‘partial’. In fact, in some talk shows, some politicians belonging to the ruling PPP were using highly abusive words against the judiciary and honourable judges and two high courts had ordered TV channels to abstain from airing such abusive programmes.

 

Sectarian attacks: While discussing sectarian killings, HRW intentionally highlights the words “Sunni-Shia conflict” and says that ‘Sunni militant groups’ are operating to kill ‘Shia Muslims’. However, the reality is that majority of Shia and Sunni Muslims are living in peaceful environment across the country and only some small groups like “banned Lashar-e-Jhangvi” etc, are involved in the killing of innocent Shia Muslims. That they do not represent the Sunni Muslims of Pakistan has been quietly ignored by the HRW report.

 

The report seems a clear attempt to fuel sectarianism and to incite those Sunni and Shia Muslims to start fighting with each other, who otherwise are living in a peaceful environment. These terrorist organisations, termed as ‘Sunni militants’ by Ali Dayan and HRW, are also involved in ruthless killing of Sunni Muslims in many incidents. Attacks on different Sunni madrassahs, shrines and even famous Data Darbar are some examples. But, it is obvious that by writing these facts, the agenda will not be fulfilled, which is to incite sectarianism in Pakistan and is now becoming very obvious.

 

The HRW completely failed to highlight the fact that the PPP government has completely failed to counter the terrorist organisations like ‘Lashar-e-Jhangvi’ which are operating in all the four provinces of country, Gilgit-Baltistan and FATA with impunity.

 

The report while linking these so-called ‘Sunni militant groups’ with Pakistan Army, with the obvious intention to create chaos in the country, writes: “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 with widespread impunity across Pakistan, as law enforcement officials effectively turned a blind eye to attacks.” Readers can best judge the facts as in ‘Balkanisation of Pakistan’, presented before a US House’s Committee Ali Dayan has clearly said: “Shia Muslims are being killed at the behest of Pakistan Army”.

 

Religious minorities and women: HRW highlights misuse of blasphemy law and very minutely discusses violence against women. The report, however, exaggerates the situation regarding Qadiani community and wrongly narrates some instances. According to the report some groups use provisions of the law to prevent Qadianis from “posing as Muslims”. The instances quoted are regarding demolishing of community’s ‘worship place’ in Lahore and vandalising of their graves. Facts are not narrated honestly and this phenomenon is creating more and more problems for the community. The issue is not about different religious views. Rana Bhagwandas, a former Supreme Court judge and recently retired Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) chairman is not only highly respected across the country but is loved by Pakistanis. This issue is about extremely provocative religious views of the community, which directly attack the religious beliefs of a vast majority of Muslims and can create serious crises at times.

 

Pakistan’s constitution as amended by the Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (the founder of ruling Pakistan People’s Party) and law of the land not only declared Qadianis as “Non-Muslims” but also barred them to portray themselves as ‘Muslims’, as this could lead to strife. The HRW report in its deliberate attempt portrays ‘worship places’ of Qadianis as ‘mosques’. It is ironical that at one side HRW poses not to discriminate on the basis of religion, and on the other the international body insists to declare them as ‘Muslims’ and terms their worship places as ‘mosques’.

 

For understanding of the general reader regarding provocative beliefs the following instance regarding so-called vandalising of graves can be considered. First of all, during these very unfortunate incidents, none of the graves was demolished but only gravestones were either whitewashed or broken. One such gravestone carried the name of the deceased with the title “Sahabi”. “Sahabi” is an Islamic term used for the companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) whereas the Qadianis used the word ‘Sahabi’ for the companions of their ‘prophet’. HRW is unable to understand the ground reality that if Qadianis pose themselves as followers of a new or separate religion, there will be no problem but if they make mockery of Islam and Islamic terms like ‘Sahabi’ so openly, it will create problems that could lead to violence. Instead of giving good suggestions, the report ignites friction and incites violence.

 

After all this, the HRW specifically highlights the crisis in Balochistan under a separate heading and simply forgets to mention the PPP government’s failure to handle the situation.

 

It is important to mention that Ali Dayan appeared in a US Committee hearing last year, which was meant to break Pakistan and separate Balochistan from Pakistan. He appeared as a witness against Pakistan and in his testimony repeatedly mentioned the cause of independence of Balochistan.

 

The HRW agenda became clear at that point and HRW crossed all limits and domain of an HR organisation working in an independent country. However the ruling PPP kept mum on for obvious reasons. Their tacit support has now been rewarded by such one-sided pro-PPP annual report by HRW.