Saturday, November 12, 2005

Pakistan - A Perpetual Abu Gharaib?

Here is an extract from this month’s Herald magazine (‘Raw Deal’ by Riaz Sohail, page 33)

"JSMM [Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz] Vice Chairman Samiullah Kalhoro [was] picked up by plain clothesmen from a Sindh University workshop in Jamshoro where Kolhoro worked as a technician. Kalhoro was severely tortured during his incommunicado detention and his body was irreparably damaged when his captors subjected him to cheera, a form of torture in which the legs of a subject are spread so wide that the ligaments in the groin begin to tear. He managed to escape from police custody in Hala on February 13 and was able to reach Karachi where he addressed a press conference. Soon, however, he had to be admitted to the Agha Khan University Hospital where he died on 5 March.

…Apart from the devastating effects of cheera Kalhoro also had naswar mixed with hot water pumped up his nose and was given a petrol enema. In a letter he posted from an unknown location after having escaped from Hala police, Kalhoro told his family about his condition. ‘Both my kidneys are damaged…Three of my teeth are broken [and] my eyesight has gone’. He said that his interrogators wanted him to testify that JSMM chairman Shafi Burfat and general secretary Asghar Ali were RAW [i.e. Indian] agents."

A cynic once told me in half-jest that we, the Pakistanis, are one of the world’s greatest hypocrites.

At times I have wondered if he wasn’t right after all.

When the Abu Gharaib scandal hit the international press our elitist chattering classes were very vocal in their condemnation of the horrors committed on Iraqi prisoners by US troops and rightly so. But when our own state perpetrates even greater brutality on our fellow citizens, the very same people become strangely silent. Why is this so? Is it because they prefer lambasting the ‘decadent’ West (while hiding our own national sins under a rug of insecurity) or is it simply a case of elitist apathy?

It would do well to recall the fate of Pastor Niemoeller.

Pastor Martin Niemoeller was an anti-communist German Ist World War veteran who initially supported the Nazis until the church was subjugated by the Nazis. Niemoeller’s rebellious sermons then caused him to spend seven harrowing years in concentration camps until he was liberated by Allied troops in 1945.

On his release Niemoeller famously regretted:

First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.


Hector said...

i'm enjoying reading your blog - its very interesting to hear the 'nitty-gritty' of another country. I mean the sometimes shameful truths that are hidden by/from the mainstream media.

keep it going.

Onlooker said...

Comments from readers such as you make Blogging worth my while.