Fellow-man

Published August 20, 2000

MUCH to our comfort, press headlines in the Republic of Pakistan scream no more. They whimper. For instance, let's have a look at yesterday's four main English-language morning newspapers of Karachi.

Dawn : A six-column wide headline at the bottom of the page read "Musharraf says he will stay on as COAS." In the text of the PPI news item, dateline Tokyo, he is quoted : " 'I am not retiring. I am not going to retire in October 2001.. . . . . ..', the General said . . . . dismissing speculations that he was planning to enter politics and stay in power beyond the deadline set by the apex court."

The News : A two-column wide front page second lead headline read "Signing CTBT to lead to internal disturbances : CE." In the text of this same PPI news item he is quoted as having said, "I am not retiring. I am not going to retire in October 2001. . . .".

The Nation : A three-column wide front-page lead headline read : "Musharraf says he will remain COAS," and he is quoted by PPI as having said the same thing.

The Business Recorder : Sensibly, to my mind, a third-page headline read "Time not ripe for signing CTBT, says Musharraf." PPI conveyed the same message from the general.

To the credit of the general, though there may have been speculation as to his plans in October 2001, he has never announced that he intended to retire on his due retirement date. Power in Pakistan rests firmly with the largest single disciplined party, the army, and it will remain so until the large majority of our people are literate, properly educated and are able to acquire trained or semi-trained minds, and for as long as the politicians who wield power remain materially and morally corrupt and dishonest to the core.

Musharraf has no intention of proving wrong that great Englishman Winston Spencer Churchill who said that the last victorious ruling general who went back to his plough was Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus in 458 BC.

On record, so far Pervez Musharraf and his men have been better rulers than Benazir Bhutto or Nawaz Sharif, both plunderers poorly disguised as democrats, who between them managed to sink the country, contrary to the claims of their cohorts who maintain that there is still six inches of water beneath the keel. To some, Musharraf has ruled for ten months as a benevolent dictator - but, then, it is said, no dictator can possibly remain benevolent for long. It is imperative that Musharraf and his generals ensure, by ordinance or constitutional amendment or otherwise, that neither of these two 'elected' leaders nor any of the men and women who acquiesced in their doings and were party to their crimes, are allowed to hold any office of state for at least the next ten years.

Helpless as we are, the least we all can do is to try to see that our fellow-man has enough to eat, enough water to drink, and is allowed to live freely and with dignity.

Fellow-man Mirza Mubarak Ahmad Nusrat : An Ahmedi of Mirpurkhas was arrested in 1989 for allegedly distributing a "Prayer Duel Pamphlet" and was detained in a police lock-up. While he was under detention Mullah Ahmad Mian Hamadi accused him of "offering prayers" and a criminal case (13/88) was registered against him at Tando Adam police station under Section 298 of the PPC. His trial lasted 11 years, his case being heard at various locations - Tando Adam, Sanghar, Hyderabad and Karachi. It was referred to the Sindh High Court on three occasions, and eventually the SHC ordered that the case be transferred to Hyderabad and heard there "at an early date."

On May 20 of this year judicial magistrate of Hyderabad, Fida Hassan Mughal, announced his decision and wrote :

"The point for my determination are as under : 1) Whether on 15/1/89 in between 2.30 to 5 p.m. in the lockup of police station Tando Amad, the above named accused being Qadiani offered prayers like Muslims with Sajdah and Rukoo with face towards Kabatullah Shareef by posing himself as Muslim. 2) What offence, if any, the accused has committed."

He "reached the conclusion that the prosecution has established its case against accused beyond all shadow of doubt." He convicted the accused "for an offence u/s 298 PPC but looking to the circumstances of the case as accused has suffered the agony of protracted trial for more than eleven years and also remained in jail from 8/2/89 to 29/4/89 when he appeared on bail, for the period of about 2 months and 21 days, I therefore sentence him for the period of 2 months and 21 days which he has already suffered as UTP by giving him benefit of section 382.B Cr.P.C. Accused has also to pay fine of Rs3,000, in default thereof he shall have to suffer S.I. for one month more. The amount of fine is to be paid by accused within one month from today. Accused is present on bail. His surety will remain good till depositing amount of fine by accused. In case of non-payment of amount of fine within one month, the accused will be taken into custody by issuing his NBW and will be sent to jail to serve the period of sentence in default of payment of fine."During the trial the accused and his advocate, Ali Ahmad Tariq, had to travel thousands of kilometers for their appearances in the various courts. The accused, a meticulous man, claimed that had he kept a proper log it would have shown that by January 2000 the total number of kilometers covered would have amounted to 98,840. Nusrat and his attorney may like to know that this distance is over twice the measurement of the equatorial circumference of Earth (40,076 km), the planet on which they exist.

Should we not all plead guilty for having made this man suffer for so long?

Next, to fellow-man Sher Nawaz Khan. On March 23, 1999, I reported an incident to the police. The day before, on the two-way public road running between the Federation of Commerce and Industry building and the Cupola complex, "I was in my open Suzuki jeep driving towards Clifton. I was stopped by private security guards of Field Security who asked me to stop and turn back as I was on a one-way road.

"The security guard was informed that it was not his business to interfere with public traffic on a public thoroughfare notified as a two-way road. Another armed guard appeared, rushed towards the jeep with an automatic rifle, shouting and screaming in Pushto, clicking it, making it ready to fire. He was overpowered and disarmed by his comrades. He then mounted the rear platform of the jeep, hit me on the head, grabbed and pulled a handful of my hair. Again he was overpowered and taken away by his fellow guards. Upon enquiring what his name was, I was informed it was 'Javed' (possibly not true).

"At this point, several guards along with a crowd of what appeared to be employees of the Cupola organization lifted my jeep off the road, waved at the oncoming traffic, cleared the road and allowed me to pass."

On May 17, 1999, a widow, a resident of Mardan came to see me and informed me that her son, Sher Nawaz, a hot-tempered youth, was the security guard who had behaved rather badly outside Tesmart. He was in jail, and she had come to ask me if I was willing to forgive him and have him released on condition that she guaranteed that she would immediately take him back with her to Mardan. Surprised to find the man had been jailed, I gave her the letter she sought. I heard no more from her and presumed all was well.

At the end of July this year I was served with a summons to appear before Judicial Magistrate Court No.1, Karachi South, as a witness in Case No.88/1999 (FIR No.117/1999), The State versus Sher Nawaz and Ors. My conscientious lawyer, Rustom Virjee, the sole surviving Parsi pleading advocate of Pakistan, discovered that Sher Nawaz had been kept in jail for some nine months until he was bailed out. He said we should appear before magistrate Irum Jehangir, a kind woman, and try and help him get off. We did so, and we can now only hope that the man is freed.

'Speedy justice' is what General Musharraf promised in his address to the nation on October 17, 1999.

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