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Security with freedoms

52 29 98

THE government’s decision to interfere in citizens’ freedom of expression, lawful association and peaceful assembly is not based on sound advice, and it must be rescinded before vital state interests are harmed.

Although the arrest of an activist for supporting a peaceful call for justice or any debatable transgression of the cyber law constitutes a lesser hazard to the victim than disappearance forever or even for a short period, the damage to the state is the same in both situations. The denial of basic rights amounts to nothing less than making Pakistan a quiescent society at the cost of state security.

Those advising the government to get tough with rights activists usually ask the people to choose between security and human rights. A more flawed equation can hardly be imagined because the formulation always and universally held valid is security through respect for freedom of expression and association.

Pakistan learnt this lesson in 1971 when to a large majority of the people of the then West Pakistan, the dismemberment of the state appeared to be a sudden disaster. They were sorry that they did not know what had been going on for decades and especially during the preceding 10 to 12 years, when the Ayub regime had suppressed the right to freedom of expression for the sake of so-called stability and development. It had done this by bringing a larger part of the press under its hegemony, in addition to the state monopoly over radio and........

© Dawn