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OpinionsPakistan's backyard is bloodied with human rights' crimes

Pakistan’s backyard is bloodied with human rights’ crimes


Pakistan's backyard is bloodied with human rights' crimes

Shantanu Mukharji

Unless a whip from quarters is cracked, the common Pakistani will continue to suffer custodial torture and deaths.

The Pakistan wing of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has drawn the attention of the international community over continued human rights violations in Pakistan, particularly due to incessant custodial deaths involving severe torture and other forms of inhuman excesses that are a matter of shame for a civilised society in any sovereign country.

To reinforce their allegations, the AHRC has issued a video that supposedly contained various methods of torture inflicted by the heartless Pakistani authorities. Video, carrying specific cases of torture, include sexual abuses on the victims including rape, forced disrobing or parading naked in full public view, beating, kicking, punching, clubbing, hanging upside down, stretching of limbs and even resorting to castration.

Other than committing physical torture, those wielding power and authority are also involved in psychological excesses which, inter alia, include sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, solitary confinement and exploitation of phobias.

In Pakistan, there is a general acceptance of torture to extract information aimed at collecting evidence amongst stakeholders, specially policy makers in the government. Because of this prevailing common practice, torture legitimises violent methods thus making abjuring violence impossible.

Significantly, Pakistan is among the countries where torture is employed as a systematic instrument to implicate person(s) suspected to be political adversaries, sectarian rivals and even personal foes. Methods used are reminiscent of the medieval period, with no respect for human values.

“Might is right” is still the fundamental yardstick of law enforcers and they are naturally complicit with the crimes chiefly because of state approval and patronage.

Sadly, lawmakers in Pakistan have failed to enact an anti-torture act despite Pakistan being a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT). Ironically, the UN body has failed to hold Pakistan accountable for its repeated failures. Apart from the custodial torture and excesses, there are more areas of concern meriting the attention of human rights watchers.

To be more specific about continued human rights' indifference in a different segment in Pakistan, fresh evidence ( November 1) reveals that 26 persons lost their lives and more than 100 reported missing or feared dead at a blast at plot number 54 at Gadani shipping yard in Balochistan when a blast rocked the 24,000 tonne Japanese Oil tanker MT Aces.

Due to their cavalier attitude, coincidentally towards the Balochis or at Balochistan, the contractor M/s Ghafoor and the company had failed to obtain clearance from the customs department and no NOC was obtained from the competent authorities.

On the face of it, the allegations may appear innocuous, but critics categorically state that such indifference is deliberate as they are not accountable to any quarters and – moreover – according to some Balochi leaders, there is scant respect for Balochi lives.

Meanwhile, a fact-finding committee commissioned by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has discovered many discrepancies in the number of workers present at the time of the blast. No safeguard was adhered to or, as some say, mala fide intent is not ruled out.

Pakistan is the 's leading ship breaker and this industry is thought to be more perilous than mining. Most unfortunately, the 6,000 workers are lacking basic safety measures and their salaries are a pittance – fetching them a daily wage of only 7 to 11 US dollars.

Further, the working conditions are indeed hazardous. A report titled “Pakistan Ship Breaking Outlook: the way forward for a Green Ship recycling industry” details how Pakistan is still not equipped with any defined Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) to deal with the hazardous waste.

According to Ashraf Khan of AFP, many contractors in connivance with the local authorities, forcefully refrain or forbid the workers from forming any union. This is a glaring breach of respect for human rights.

Javeria Younes, a renowned researcher and legal luminary, has highlighted the shortcomings in her handbook “Custodial Torture, its ramifications and failures of institutions”.

There are many voices in Pakistan who keep championing human rights' causes and infringements. It's high time they are steadfastly united and become more vociferous to bring in the International Labour Organisation(ILO) into play to ensure some civility in the Pakistani mainstream, which is still basking in the Middle Ages practising archaic and inhuman practices to stifle genuine voices of dissent – including in the labour and industry sectors. Unless a whip from international quarters is cracked, the common Pakistani will continue to suffer custodial torture and deaths.

With such a barbaric and numbed attitude towards Pakistani labourers – and for the so called accused in custody – victimised and perpetrated by the state actors, it does not behove the Pakistan polity, media or military to point fingers at the Indian establishment for alleged human rights violations in .

The author is a retired IPS officer who has held key positions in the Government of handling sensitive security issues within and outside India.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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