A Solidarity letter from a member of National Assembly in Pakistan

December 3, 2007

State brutalities reached to unprecedented heights in the country during the month of November. The crackdown that started with the promulgation of Emergency on November 3, has not subsided. The regime of General (Retd) Pervaiz Musharraf had come down heavily on all segments of the society. From political workers to lawyers, judges, journalists and student activists, all have been arrested. The jails of the country remained packed up with political detainees. They were charged for violating law and order, for offences of rioting and unlawful assembling. Subjected to the worst kind of physical and mental torture, they were rounded up by the state police for voicing their indignation against the Promulgation of Emergency, the Provisional Constitutional Order and the suspension of their basic human rights, enshrined and guaranteed in the constitution of Pakistan.

Former Premier and the Chair-person, Pakistan Peoples Party Ms. Benazir Bhutto was the first leader on whom the axe fell. She was placed twice (November 9 and November12 to 17) under house arrests for attempting to lead a peaceful procession of her party workers against the imposition of Emergency. Pakistan Peoples Party the largest political party of the country, which has always spearheaded resistance movements against non-democratic intervention in politics, refused to accept the new draconian laws imposed by General Pervaiz Musharraf. A public protest meeting was called on November 9 in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, but she was denied her democratic right to attend the meeting. Barricades were placed around her residence, thousands of police force was deployed against her. Thousands of our workers were rounded up, while she was served with two days detention orders. Later on she proceeded for the provincial capital of Punjab, Lahore and had called for a long march against state brutalities, where again she was put under house arrest for six days.

Fearing the growing popularity of the former Prime Minister Ms. Benazir Bhutto and an adverse verdict from the Supreme Court on the eligibility of his presidential elections, the now retired General had clamped down all civil liberties, sacked all the judges of the higher courts, suspended the constitution, arrested prominent bar leaders, political activists and banned all news channels. These drastic steps plunged the country back into the dark ages and the much propagated claim of a forward march to democracy became exposed. The charade did finally become unsustainable. The mask that he had been wearing for so long is off his face. During the whole month naked brutalities were inflicted on innocent citizens who refused to lie down to his dictates. The witch-hunt against his opponents continued unabated.

On the call given by the Chairperson for a long march, eighteen thousand of PPP workers were arrested in the Punjab, and three PPP workers were killed in Karachi namely Tufail Baloch, Ahmed Baloch and Abdul Rehman Rabbani. Our workers, office-bearers, legislators were rounded up from all corners of the country. No city, no town, no village was spared. State machinery came heavy on them. Barrister Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan member CEC, Rahimdad Khan President PPP NWFP, Zahir Shah and Iftikhar Jhagra former Parliamentarians, Chaudry Majeed MLA President PPP AJK, Latif Akbar MLA General Secretary PPP AJK, Raja Altaf former Deputy Mayor Rawalpindi, Ch.Manzoor, Imtiaz Safdar Warraich, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Zulfiaqr Gondal Amir Fida Paracha, Rana Aftab, Raja Riaz, Faiz Kamoka, Hassan Murtaza, Asad Moazzam, Saminullah Khan all former Parliamentarians, Qayum Jatoi District Nazim (Mayor) Muzaffargarh, Khalid Nawaz Bobby President PSF Punjab, Sher Shah Khan Jogezai, Divisional coordinator Zhhob, Sheikh Tahir Shah President PPP Loralai, Mohammad Zaman Kohatzai General Secretary Loralai and thousands of workers from Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Baluchistan, AJK and FATA were kept behind bars. After submitting surety bonds, they were released phase wise from the various jails where they were kept for more than a week.

Similarly our women workers and legislators became subjects of wrath of the Lahore Police, when they took out a procession on Shahdra and Shalimar, Lahore, to protest against the detention of the Chairperson. Senior legislators such as Beelum Hasnain, Yasmen Rahman, Mehreen Anwer Raja, Sagheera Islam, Farzana Raja, Uzma Bukhari, Sajida Mir, Nadia Mirza were arrested, manhandled and kept in the police lock-ups for more than 20 hours.

As if that was not enough, the state brutalities did not even spare the media. With the promulgation of the Emergency, all news channels were banned and their permits and licenses were cancelled until their acceptance of meeting the conditions of the authorities. Those who were ready to sign on the conditions were allowed to come on air and those who did not, were forced to close down their news channel.

On November 19, more that 150 journalists were baton-charged, thrashed up and arrested by the state police in Karachi. The Karachi Press Club had organized a peaceful procession to express their concern against the increasing checks of the government on the electronic media. They had just come out from the premise of the press club when the police pounded on them and severely beat them up. Some of the senior journalists were dragged and hauled into the police vans. For twelve hours they were kept in the police lock ups.

After the politicians and the journalists, the state machinery resorted to strong arm tactics against the lawyers as well. On November 29, more than a dozen lawyers were injured at Aiwan-e-Adl in Lahore when the police baton-charged them for protesting against General (Retd) Musharraf taking oath as President for another term. Hundreds of lawyers were coming out from the general body meeting of Lahore Bar Association, when policemen in plain clothes charged on them and after a scuffle arrested them.

Interestingly the same state machinery that is being used against innocent citizens could not stop the Taliban from capturing Pakistani territories in Swat. They could not prevent the bloodshed in places like the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque). They have failed to control the insurgency in the western bordering areas of Pakistan.

The Human Rights Cell of the Pakistan Peoples Party condemns the state atrocities against innocent citizens and expresses its grave concern over the growing Human Rights violation in the country. Chairperson Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto has strongly condemned these incidents. Pledging solidarity with the lawyers and the journalists, she has stated that the deployment of security personnel in plain clothes to beat protestors was unlawful and cannot be tolerated in a civilized democratic society. She has asked for an impartial inquiry into the two incidents.


Fauzia Wahab
Central Coordinator
Human Rights Cell
Pakistan Peoples Party