“In a democracy, you need to have a strong judicial system. You need freedom of speech, you need art, and you need a free press”—Tzipi Livni

In any society, any form of government or any social setup, if justice is not at the core, there is bound to be chaos, restlessness and instability. We may not realize immediately but even our slightest act of injustice can be the forerunner to an unimaginable and uncontrollable future cataclysm. This is especially true for our beautiful country Pakistan, where injustice prevails at all levels. A student, turning the pages of our history would certainly conclude ‘injustice’ as that missing factor which could have turned the course of this country towards progress and stability.

Some other examples sprouting from injustice could be public institutions becoming handmaids of politicians, protectors becoming violators, uncongenial business environment, rampant corruption, regulators that place hurdles instead of facilitating, openly breached contracts, hundreds of thousands of cases in litigation awaiting adjudication, poorly developed and lopsided infrastructure with focus on a couple of cities ignoring the larger rural sector, no guaranteed security of life or property etc.

Even after 76 years of our existence and having suffered mutilation of our strong economic arm in 1971, the country’s ship is desperately navigating storm after storm amidst mountainous waves of uncertainty with no secure harbor in sight. We have yet not been successful in establishing a sustainable mode of governance, constantly experimenting with different types that end up mostly in hybrid forms of democracy and dictatorship. Whether it is military or parliamentary, governments have been observed to take on a tyrannical approach where opposition (both public and elected members) is subdued with force; where dissident voices are silenced and where any spark of criticism is translated into rebellion and treason. What ensues later is a long list of missing persons, arrests, detentions, false cases and most tragic of all, extra-judicial killings, or rather, murders.

Whether it is military or parliamentary, governments have been observed to take on a tyrannical approach where opposition (both public and elected members) is subdued with force; where dissident voices are silenced and where any spark of criticism is translated into rebellion and treason.

People who are born in a particular region are naturally connected to its roots. Dislocation from one’s birthplace is perhaps one of the most painful experiences human beings endure. The very idea is heart wrenching, what to talk of actual migration. Making a foreign land one’s home is no easy task. No matter how comfortable, beautiful or welcoming that place may be, the air, smells and sounds of one’s origins continue to haunt the mind. So given a choice between starting a new life abroad or settling in one’s own hometown, many would prefer to live among their loved ones.

Now if this is true then why would local inhabitants turn against their own habitats? It really does not make any sense. After all, they would be inclined to protect their surroundings rather than allow them to be wrecked by outsiders. They would want to beautify and not desecrate their own homes. Who does that? Simultaneously, if there are visible instances of thefts, pilferage or injustice, is it not the community’s right to check them, to seek remedies and where it needs to question the government, to protest and demand? How can these acts be termed as rebellion or high treason? Is this such an unforgivable felony that those who dare raise their voices are declared insurgents and are suppressed through various means of torture including their elimination by extra-judicial killing.

Imagine the psychological trauma suffered by young children witnessing the bullet-riddled and mutilated body of their relatives. Are these not cauldrons simmering with boiling hatred and disgust for the perpetrators, waiting to froth with revenge? How can a rising tide be subdued with bullets? If so, then tanks and missiles could have easily been deployed from stopping tsunamis causing unspeakable damage. Matters which can be resolved on the table, need not be taken to the battlefield. What is the rationality behind such madness where short term resolutions are sought by unleashing long term malignity? Honestly, this is nothing more than deceitfulness on the part of offendors.

The problem is that the Baloch are sons of soil who have no other home except their vast and mineral-rich province, while the fearless oppressors are those whose children will easily find a convenient path to comfortably settle abroad.

No sane person would want to disrupt lives of his family or force his women folk to go out on the streets unless there are some issues over which he has no control. Ignoring the plight of the people of Balochistan is like covering one’s eyes before a visible oncoming avalanche that promises to eradicate anything that comes in its way. The problem is that the Baloch are sons of soil who have no other home except their vast and mineral-rich province, while the fearless oppressors are those whose children will easily find a convenient path to comfortably settle abroad. On the other hand, the Baloch children would be left with permanent scars from their elders’ crime of loving their land and struggling for their basic rights. Seemingly, the colonialist mindset that subjugated natives of Indian subcontinent has taken a turn towards the Baloch. Those who wield unbridled power probably have no options to settle this chronic problem other than through torture and extra-judicial executions.

Extra-judicial killing is not limited to our beloved country. A letter to Europeans published in Amnesty International “Epidemic: Torture” way back in 1973 by George Mangalds is worth reading: “I have experienced the fate of a victim. I have seen the torturer's face at close quarters. It was in a worse condition than my own bleeding, livid face. The torturer's face was distorted by a kind of twitching that had nothing human about it. He was in such a state of tension that he had an expression very similar to those we see on Chinese masks, I am not exaggerating.

It is not an easy thing to torture people. It requires inner participation. In this situation, I turned out to be the lucky one. I was humiliated. I did not humiliate others. I was simply bearing a profoundly unhappy humanity in my aching entrails. Whereas the men who humiliate you must first humiliate the notion of humanity within themselves. Never mind if they strut around in their uniforms, swollen with the knowledge that they can control the suffering, sleeplessness, hunger and despair of their fellow human being, intoxicated with the power in their hands. Their intoxication is nothing other than the degradation of humanity. The ultimate degradation. They have had to pay very dearly for my torments. I wasn't the one in the worse position. I was simply a man who moaned because he was in great pain. I prefer that. At this moment I am deprived of the joy of seeing children going to school or playing in the parks. Whereas they have to look their own children in the face.”

QOSHE - The Scourge Of Extrajudicial Killings - Huzaima Bukhari
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The Scourge Of Extrajudicial Killings

23 4
29.12.2023

“In a democracy, you need to have a strong judicial system. You need freedom of speech, you need art, and you need a free press”—Tzipi Livni

In any society, any form of government or any social setup, if justice is not at the core, there is bound to be chaos, restlessness and instability. We may not realize immediately but even our slightest act of injustice can be the forerunner to an unimaginable and uncontrollable future cataclysm. This is especially true for our beautiful country Pakistan, where injustice prevails at all levels. A student, turning the pages of our history would certainly conclude ‘injustice’ as that missing factor which could have turned the course of this country towards progress and stability.

Some other examples sprouting from injustice could be public institutions becoming handmaids of politicians, protectors becoming violators, uncongenial business environment, rampant corruption, regulators that place hurdles instead of facilitating, openly breached contracts, hundreds of thousands of cases in litigation awaiting adjudication, poorly developed and lopsided infrastructure with focus on a couple of cities ignoring the larger rural sector, no guaranteed security of life or property etc.

Even after 76 years of our existence and having suffered mutilation of our strong economic arm in 1971, the country’s ship is desperately navigating storm after storm amidst mountainous waves of uncertainty with no secure harbor in sight. We have yet not been successful in establishing a sustainable mode of governance, constantly experimenting with different types that end up mostly in hybrid forms of democracy and dictatorship. Whether it is military or parliamentary, governments have been observed to take on a tyrannical approach where opposition (both public and elected........

© The Friday Times


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