Activists demand end to torture

Karachi: Members of the political parties, human rights activists, social and labour rights activists and journalists on Thursday demanded the government and the members of National Assembly and Senate to enact the law against the torture, which was submitted for enactment in 2012, but still not presented in parliament.

They were speaking at a seminar “Enact Law Against Torture” jointly organised by Asian Human Rights Commission, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Sindh High Court Bar Association, Karachi Press Club, Karachi Bar Association and Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum at KPC.

Karima Baloch, Vice Chairperson of Baloch Students Federation (Azad) presided over the meeting, where as the main speakers included Haider Abbas Rizvi of Muttahida Qoumi Movement (MQM), Senator Taj Haider of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Joint Director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) Zulfiqar Shah, KPC President Imtiaz Khan Faran and others.

Senator Taj Haider said all democratic forces should raise their voice against torture. All political parties should formulate a new political culture in the country. He said his party has never supported taking the political workers for torture. He underlined the need for brining positive changes in the society.

Haider Abbas Rizvi charged successive governments have been using torture as a tool against opposition. He said four times Military operation were done in Balochistan. “I don’t see any difference in democratic of dictatorship laws. All political parties have mentally accepted that political workers need to undergone torture or imprisonment.”

Kareema Baloch of BSO (Azad) asked all the human rights organizations to raise their voice against torture in Balochistan.

Zulfiqar Shah said as a member the United Nations, it is responsibility of Pakistani government to enact the law against torture. He said if Pakistan has to be a rule of law state then we must denounce all forms of violence and stand up against torture. “

KPC President Imtiaz Khan Faran said that during the Martial law of General Ziaul Haq the military resorted to torture on people of Sindh. In 1992, the military started operation in Karachi. Poor peasants of Tando Bahawal were killed by declaring them as dacoits. But when it was proved they were innocent, no one offered apology, but said it was a mistake.

He said there are many journalists in Sindh, who cannot go to their areas because of torture by feudal lords and Waderas. Influential landlords are killing innocent people by declaring them Karo Kari. Today the MNAs are holding Jirga (tribal court) in violation of Supreme Court’s order, but no action is being taken against them.

Asad Iqbal Butt of HRCP said there is a difference between torture and violence. For violence there are many laws and one can go to the courts against the violence, but there is no law against the state torture because it cannot be challenged anywhere.

He said the UN Convention asks all the member states to make laws and take measures to stop torture of any citizens by the state machinery.

Senior psychiatrist Dr. Haroon Ahmed said that torture is an old tool of the state institutions and there is a lot of progress in it. Now besides the government, private institutions are also using torture as a tool to extract information or punish the opponents. He said psychologically impacts of torture are innumerable.

Hassan Athar of Asian Human Rights Commission explained the importance and background of Anti-Torture Day, which is being observed in Pakistan on 26th June of every year. He said AHRC is working on all countries of Asia for enacting the law against torture. In Pakistan, the bill was prepared in 2012, but still the bill is not presented in the National Assembly.

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