The missing link: families ‘outbid’ US

“The brazen use of force against innocent parents, sisters and brothers of the missing persons exposes the ugly face behind the mantra of enlightened moderation” : Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: The families and friends of the missing persons on Friday continued their protest for the production of their loved ones in a court of law while offering the government $6000 for the release of each person against $5000 being given to it by the Bush administration.

The relatives and friends of the missing persons from all over the country staged a demonstration in front of Lal Masjid after the Friday prayers. MNA Mian Muhammad Aslam was the only local politician who attended the protest by the distressed families of the missing persons, some of whom were allegedly picked up by the secret agencies in 2002.

The peaceful protesters, carrying placards inscribed with angry slogans against President Musharraf’s policies, attracted a sizeable number of people on the busy Melody Road adjacent to Lal Masjid.

“We are offering a better bid for each of the missing Pakistani than the Americans do … Our NGO — Defence of Human Rights — offers you $6000 for (the release of) each of the abducted person against the $5000 you are getting from Washington,” said Ghazi Abdul Rahman of Lal Masjid directing his comment to President Pervez Musharraf.

“Pakistan first but the Pakistanis in the last,” read a placard carried by a boy. Another said, “Backers of America are traitors of Pakistan and Islam.”

“My son has yet to feel the touch of his father,” said the young Burqa-clad wife of Ali Hassan, who has been missing for the last two-and-a-half years from Lahore. “We want to know about the well-being of our loved ones and meet them to make sure they are alive,” she said in tear-choked voice. “If we fail to move General Pervez Musharraf, we would commit self-immolation.”

Computer wizard Atiq-ur-Rahman’s elderly mother couldn’t hold back her tears while enquiring about the “crimes” her son had committed against the country. “If the government wants money, I offer them $10,000 for the release of my loving son … it is double of the amount America is giving for (detaining) one Pakistani,” she said.

Referring to the “tyrant dictators” of the past, Jamaat-i-Islami leader Mian Aslam repeatedly reminded the generals of changing times and fates.

Amina Masood, who is spearheading the movement for the release of missing persons, said, “Thursday’s events only strengthened our resolve to speak for every individual illegally detained by the government.”

“The brutality of the Punjab police could not frighten my sons and daughter,” she said, adding that the families and friends of the 107 missing persons would continue to protest until each one of them is freed.

“The brazen use of force against innocent parents, sisters and brothers of the missing persons exposes the ugly face behind the mantra of enlightened moderation,” said Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf chairman Imran Khan, in a press conference on Friday evening.

Although he didn’t attend the demonstration, Khan said, “The farce of enlightenment is for the Western ear.” The distressed families wanted to hand over a memorandum to the vice chief of army staff but the brutal use of force against them has shocked the whole nation, he added. “The poor families were only demanding the right to fight legal battles for the release of their missing loved ones who have never been charge-sheeted during so many years.”

In their written affidavits submitted with the Supreme Court of Pakistan, over a dozen recently released citizens have stated that the country’s intelligence agencies, including MI, ISI, FIU, and even CIA and FBI, interrogated and tortured them at different safe houses in various parts of the country.

Those who have submitted affidavits with the Supreme Court after their release resulting from the chief justice’s suo motto action include: Imran Shamsher Khan, s/o Shamsher Ali Khan (Hyderabad), Umer Siddique Kathio, s/o Siddique Kathio, (Kotri), Muhammad Siddique Kathio, s/o Lal Baksh, (Kotri), Ali Sher, s/o Amir Hamza, (Mardan), Muhammad Tariq, s/o Nizamdin, (Gujranwala), Atif Idress, s/o Muhammad Abbas, (Lahore), Hidayat Ullah Khan (Karachi), Bin Yamin, s/o Bahadar Khan, (Swat), Umer Rehman, s/o Muhammad Rahim, (Swat) and Murtaza Bugti, s/o of Ahmed Nawaz, from Karachi.

According to documents submitted to the Supreme Court chief justice, the recently released persons claims to have either personally seen or heard from other detainees about the currently missing persons, including Masood Ahmed Janjua, M Mansoor, alias Hassan of Karachi, Baba Kareem, Masood of Karachi (a cloth merchant kept in US custody for two years), Umer Abdullah, Qari Saifullah Akhter, Ali Hassan known as Abdul Qadir, Faisal Faraz of Lahore, Aadil of Karachi, Umer Farooq, a motorcycle mechanic from Rawalpindi, Arif Chhotu, Ateeq-ur-Rehman of Abbottabad, Aatif Idrees of Lahore, Khalid Siddiqui (reportedly brought from South Africa), Waqar of Rawalpindi, Hayat Khan of Peshawar, Shamil of Muzzafarabad, Umer of Muzzafarabad, Muhammad Deen of Kohat, Malik Zulfiqar of Abbottabad, Usman of Gujranwala, Hidayat Ullah of Karachi, Muhammad Tariq of Gujranwala, Siddique Shah, Chaudhry Abid Raza of Gujrat, Abdur Rehman, Rustam and Murad (all picked up from Quetta), Haji Abdul Wahhab, Obaidullah, Abdul Jabbar, Abdul Basit of Faisalabad, Osama Nazir Mailsi, Siddiq-i-Akbar of Jalalpur Pirwala in Multan, Hafiz Tahir of Bahawalpur, Ansar Mehmoood of Rawalpindi, Shaukat Hayat of Dir, Muhammad Nazir, of Mailsi, Gul Muhammad of Sibbi.

According to one document submitted by the released prisoners, some of the detainees claimed that they were made to wear orange coloure clothes, a uniform for the inmates of Guantanamo Bay detention centre.

The same paper said the recently released prisoners were detained at different detention centres in Faizabad, Chaklala Scheme-III, 501 Workshop, another one near the Islamabad airport, Rawalpindi, Nowshehra, Attock Fort, Lahore and Peshawar. However, none was detained at a centre for a longer period as they were being shifted from one place to other.

Source: The News

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