Monday June 27, 2022

Mazari sends SOS to UN on govt’s ‘misuse of power’

By Our Correspondent
May 06, 2022

ISLAMABAD: In a rare move, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s senior leader and former human rights minister Shireen Mazari has written to three special rapporteurs of the UN for their intervention to help halt the government’s alleged “misuse of the blasphemy laws against Imran Khan and senior PTI leadership.”

Mazari, who is also a PTI core committee member, said in the letters that Pakistan had been engulfed in a political crisis ever since the Imran Khan-led government was ousted in the aftermath of an alleged ‘regime change scheme and replaced with a government led by Shehbaz Sharif, who has been named in ‘multiple money-laundering and corruption cases and is out on bail’.

Mazari recalled that in March Imran’s government had concluded in a cabinet meeting that there had been a US-backed regime-change conspiracy against the former prime minister assisted by the establishment and opposition political parties.

She continued that this conclusion was premised upon the content of a cipher message received from Pakistan’s envoy in Washington DC detailing a formal meeting between Donald Lu of the State Department with the envoy and three other members of the embassy along with note-takers on both sides. And, this resulted in the ouster of Imran government.

Mazari said there has been a groundswell of public anger reflected in huge rallies by Imran Khan across the country as he leads a movement for the restoration of democracy and sovereignty of Pakistan. However, she added in the letter that the government backed by the establishment had responded with repressive measures.She pointed out to UNHCR three major human rights violations conducted against Imran.

One: A complete blackout of media coverage by state-owned media as well as almost all private channels through a carrot (advertisements) and stick (establishment). In this connection, the government-controlled PTCL, which provides cable connections to cable operators, has denied this access to any private channel seen covering Khan’s massive rallies.

The second violation was the registration of blasphemy cases against Imran and PTI leaders in connection with the Masjid-e-Nabawi incident where Shehbaz Sharif and his federal ministers were heckled by a crowd of Pakistani pilgrims: The step also provides for making immediate arrests and one member of the NA from the PTI-allied party was immediately taken into custody on arrival at Islamabad airport on blasphemy charges.

Even though an FIR was not registered, she noted, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had warned Imran and his supporters of arrests. She requested the United Nations body to intervene to immediately cease the misuse of the blasphemy law against political opponents, stop media censorship, and stop denying the right to peaceful protest through repressive measures and blocking of protest sites.

In his reaction, ruling PMLN Senator Dr. Musadik Malik said the PTI had accused the US of a foreign conspiracy while also urged the UN for mercy.“On one hand, there are claims of a movement of independence and while on the other requests are being made for intervention for the PTI leadership’s rescue,” he said.