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January 15, 2017

Forced disappearance of activists makes it national, international issue


January 15, 2017


ISLAMABAD: Desecration of any faith can’t be defended in the garb of freedom of speech or human rights but it is done here brazenly -- thanks to the recent unlawful disappearance of some bloggers.

Had they been arrested and charged lawfully for their alleged wrong, the situation would have been different altogether because what is associated with them is extremely dangerous not only legally but also socially and religiously.

Regarding the work of these bloggers, even a respected secular columnist admits that it is clearly “stupid”, “irresponsible”, “outrageous” and “offensive”.

In his latest article on the subject, he writes, “How bad are the materials which right-wing and pro-establishment sites are deeming blasphemous and anti-Pakistan? Having glanced at a few pages from FB accounts under the names of ‘Roshni’ and ‘Mochi’, in my opinion some remarks by their visitors placed here and there were clearly stupid and irresponsible. Another called ‘Bhensa’ was outrageous and offensive.”

One can imagine what appears “stupid”, “irresponsible”, “outrageous” and “offensive” to the respected secular columnist, could be how shameful and hurting. 

However, the forced disappearance of these secular bloggers allegedly by security agencies have made this an issue of international importance for the so-called human rights activists, both internal and international, and influential capitals including Washington -- none of whom though utter a word over such disappearance of anyone belonging to religious right here.

Even at home from media to parliament and the government, the focus remains on forced disappearance. Many in mainstream media and politics dub these bloggers as “human rights’ activists” and “social media activists”.

They sound defending them in the garb of “freedom of speech” and “human rights”, simply ignoring the alleged anti-Islam work associated with them.

What makes them “human rights’ activists” remains unexplained! How some defend their alleged blasphemous work in the name of “freedom of speech”, sounds alien to what the constitution and law of this country suggest.

Babar Sattar writes in The News, “Those of us who thought we could think and express ourselves freely within the digital world from the privacy of our homes were wrong.

This (the forced disappearance of bloggers) was a public service announcement that the digital world is part of the jungle too. So don’t be a rabble-rouser on social media.

The state retains monopoly over narratives and if social media is the new forum where narratives are being shaped, it will be controlled no less ruthlessly than other forums.”

Sattar added, “The abductions look like coercion for now. But they will lead to a conformist consensus in favour of keeping freedom of expression and dissent under self-censorship even on social media.”

Our constitution through Article 19 guarantees freedom of speech and expression subject to “any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality or in relation to the contempt of court or incitement to an offence”.

What our secular champions of “freedom of expression” demands and how they justify the controversial work of the abducted bloggers, is not only the violation of the constitution but it is also indecent, immoral and incitement of violence. Ironically, it’s the agencies unlawful action that has resulted in the surfacing of innumerable defenders of such bloggers, who were not known to many till recently.

By the way, the bloggers’ disappearance has badly exposed the double standards of our media, parliament and even the government.

While all of them are so concerned about the disappearances of these bloggers, they don’t give a fig about the missing of hundreds of persons particularly those associated with religious extremism or belong to Balochistan.

Let’s have a same set of rule for all.