LAHORE, Nov 6: The director of the Human Rights Commission said on Tuesday that President Gen Pervez Musharraf had imposed martial law disguised as emergency.

“We are witnessing martial law under the garb of emergency. It will be harmful for the country and its citizens.”

I.A. Rahman criticised the abridgement of the judiciary’s powers and the high-handedness against lawyers.

“It is not good to curtail the powers of the judiciary and thrash the lawyers for raising voice for supremacy of judiciary and the rule of law,” Mr Rahman told Dawn outside the house of HRCP chairperson Asma Jehangir.

He said there was a need to strengthen civil society, urging the government to enlist the help of law-abiding citizens in efforts to tackle outlaws.

He deplored the police action against an indoor meeting on Saturday after the imposition of emergency.

Mr Rahman, who was among the participants, said the police had taken 54 people into custody without showing any papers.

“We were about to leave the HRCP office at the Aiwan-i-Jamhoor after attending the meeting when the police staged the whole drama,” he said.

“Without showing any detention orders and telling us about the reason of the arrest, we were kept at Model Town police station the whole day. Later we were shifted to private residences in Gulberg. This was nothing but illegal detention,” Mr Rahman said.

The very next day, an FIR was lodged against the arrested people and they were produced before a magistrate. He issued a judicial remand, declared three houses as sub-jails and ordered the police to shift the detainees to a better place.

The HRCP director said he had failed to understand the reasons behind The detention.

“The government first violates the law and then finds excuses to justify it. It is easy to register the case but it is difficult to prove the allegations,” Mr Rahman said about the police raid at the meeting.

He said all citizens had a ‘democratic right’ to comment on and discuss political issues, including emergency.

Updated Nov 07, 2007 12:00am

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