Monday, November 9, 2015

For how long will people like Muzaffar Ali, from GB, remain disenfranchised?

All justice is blind, but some justice is blinder than others. The blindness of justice is supposedly a powerful metaphor, alluding to its impartial and independent dispensation. Unfortunately, in our beloved country, the justice system unseeingly crushes the powerless. That’s the reality we live in today. Despite having one of the world’s most modern constitutions, saving a few articles, we never see it in effect. The influential section of society constantly eludes the law and commits transgressions.

A story of a similar injustice is making rounds on social media and has been shared by thousands of people in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).

Photo: Twitter

Due to the senselessly cryptic nature of proceedings, the details aren’t confirmed. However, after browsing thoroughly through some legitimate sources, at least one side of the story can be recounted. The story being shared today is the one being told by thousands, which was initially shared by individuals who talked to the witness of the incidents. I am recounting the story which many people believe to be true.

Recently, Muzaffar Ali, an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) in Airport Security Force (ASF), hailing from a lower middle class family of GB was made to dance blindly to the errant tunes of the justice system of our country. He belongs to the Ghizer District, hometown of Lalak Jan, the most recent recipient of the Nishan-e-Haider.

Ali was on duty at the Allama Iqbal Airport in Lahore when a vehicle tried to enter the airport. Ali, as part of his duty, asked for relevant information to clear the vehicle for entry. According to witnesses, a young man in the vehicle did not oblige. Upon further insistence, he became furious, came out of the vehicle, cursed obscenely at Ali, and slapped him. Upon this action, Ali retaliated and hit him back. It is important to note that people forcefully entering the airport premises without clearance can be shot at. In this case, the entrant slapped a uniformed ASF officer. After the scuffle, the entrant made a call. It is said that he was a relative of a Director General (DG) ASF, also a major general. Despite the fact that he, the officer, was assaulted, ASI Ali, was put behind bars within hours. In less than four days, he was court-martialed and sent to a prison in Lahore to serve a year-long sentence.

Now, that is some swift justice, never extended to any underprivileged Pakistani ever.

It is also being said that Ali was not even given a chance to defend himself, and no witnesses were called to testify.

I am not suggesting that Ali cannot be mistaken or could not be partially at fault in the case, however, the silence surrounding the entire episode made it a dubious incident to say the least.

Hence, as a citizen of Pakistan, my demand is that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif take notice of this matter, and ensure the transparency of this case as it is causing quite a stir among the youth of G-B.

If the verdict is fair, it will be accepted by all, but the proceedings must be made transparent with all its merits. It is also giving our security agencies a bad name. It seems, when a VIP or a VIP’s associate is involved, even national security concerns should be shelved.

Patriotic and dutiful subjects of this country deserve better than this. Also, we expect our agencies to uphold a higher moral and legal standard. But they have fallen despicably short of our expectations.

The people of GB have been disenfranchised since independence. They are deprived of any representation in the National Assembly, Senate, National Finance Commission (NFC), Indus River System Authority Board (IRSA), or the Council of Common Interest (CCI). It is as if GB does not belong to Pakistan when it comes to allocation of resources and legitimate representation.

In the power corridors of Pakistan, no one represents our point of view. They wanted to make Kalabagh Dam, but Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) opposed it, because they had a voice and the capacity to fight for their interests. When it comes to Diamer-Basha Dam, no one is consulted, because GB does not have a voice. When it comes to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), no one asks the local population, because they cannot vote for people in the centre anyway.

It is not to say that Pakistani government has never done anything for GB, but we would like to be consulted nonetheless. Anyone will prefer to remain hungry by choice, than being imprisoned and fed lavish meals.

I can say with utmost confidence that the heartbeats of GB inhabitants beat no less for Pakistan than any Punjabi, Sindhi, Pakhtun or Baloch. Their blood boils with the same passion, if not more than other Pakistanis, against any antagonism towards Pakistan. You go to any graveyard in GB and you will always find plenty of graves with Pakistani flags hoisted on them, indicating pride in the sacrifices they made for their country.

Knowing the history and deprivations on all fronts, the patriotism of the people of GB is a wonder in itself. The delicate nature of the area is not a secret. There is an emerging sentiment amongst the Gilgit youth that their undaunted support and love for Pakistan is being taken for granted. Injustices upon injustices are bound to pique and lead to a reaction at some point, even though it is improbable right now. The people of GB are no less Pakistani than anyone else, and they have right to be treated with dignity, as promised by the constitution. Unlike Muzaffar Ali was treated in this situation.

from The Express Tribune Blog

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