[author image=”http://hunzanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/DSC_0037.jpg” ]Masood Karim is a development practitioner having worked with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for about 2.4 years under a project of child protection with Planning and Development Department of Gilgit-Baltistan. Currently he works for the water and sanitation extension program (WASEP) at Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, Pakistan – an agency of the Aga Development Network (AKDN).[/author]
The anti-terrorist court in Gilgit has sentenced 12 people for 40 years of prison and Rs. 500,000 fine. Apparently, the case roots goes back to the incident of shooting of two protesting Attabad IDPS by police officials back in August 2011. Reports and evidences in the form of video clips reveal that the then police officials on duty tried to stop the protesters when they were asking the government to fulfill its commitments and to do more relieve the grievances of Attabad disaster victims. After the shooting of two protesters by police the mob went frenzied and damaged several government properties which is insane and unlawful at all levels.
However, with due respect, the honorable court might have considered the very fact that the protesters went out of control after the shooting. Peaceful protest against and for any agenda pertaining citizens well being is the basic right, all across the globe including Pakistan. Be the peaceful protest demanding even separation from a state, no law can shut the voices of its citizen. Take example of recent political crisis in England when the Scottish demanded separation. Also, look at the current sit-ins in Islamabad by PTI and PAT asking NS-led government to step down. In all similar cases, we haven’t witnessed any government using force and coercion to silent the voices. What happened in August 2014, is primarily instigated and stimulated by the failure and inefficiency of the then police officials, not the mob to blame. In Gilgit-Baltistan, unfortunately protests are perceived unlawful both by civil society and the government, perhaps, keeping past precedents in view which might have led to violence.
I am in no position to judge the judgement of the honorable court however as a citizen of Pakistan, knowing my rights to speak and raise my voice, can I ask what justice was done to the police officials who killed two innocent Attaabad IDPs? For the record, the then police officer on duty was later promoted and acquitted from the case showering him with rewards.
The real question here is, whether these convicted men are primarily and solely sentenced for the incident in Aliabad Hunza in August 2014 or that particular incident is being used as an alibi and cover to give them justice for being involved in actual terrorist activities or for being involved in working on a foreign agenda? If the case is solely related to Attabad disaster, then it is quite possible to hear many voices against such severe decision.
Personally I don’t see and don’t want to drag this discourse and label court decision into a ethnic-region biased one. However, I would want audience and readers to contemplate the sentence of the honorable court on merit and past precedence. One may rightly ask what decision has been made against the butchers who go on killing innocent people all around the country, some in the name of God and others in the name of Jihad. Take example of recent brutality against the innocent travelers on Karakarum Highway and consider the incidents of K-2 base-camp massacre.