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Double standard over hangings alleged

Updated November 24, 2015


ISLAMABAD: Rights activist Asma Jahangir has criticised the government for demonstrating “disproportionately high passion” against the execution of two opposition politicians in Bangladesh through unfair trials over those being hanged by military courts or Pakistanis executed in Saudi Arabia.

The response sent a message that the government of Pakistan had extraordinary love and affection for the opposition members in Bangladesh than its citizens, Ms Jahangir told reporters at the Supreme Court on Monday.

She was reacting to the response by the Foreign Office and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan expressing anguish and concern over the execution of Bangladesh National Party leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhry and Ali Ahsan Mujahid of Jamaat-i-Islami.

Also read: Dhaka summons Pakistani envoy, lodges protest over FO statement

“Equal passion, we hope, will be shown by the government” for the people on death row in Pakistan than being hanged elsewhere in the world by denying due process, she said.

She was of the opinion that the hangings in Bangladesh would further deepen the divide and haunt its politics in future. She said that all human rights activists who monitored these trials agreed that due process had not been given to the two accused.

“We have condemned the unfortunate developments and even given out urgent appeals to the Amnesty International and other international human rights organisations in this regard,” she added.

But, Ms Jahangir said, Pakistan should first take up the issue of capital punishment through unfair trials here and of those Pakistanis who were being consistently executed in Saudi Arabia and then show disproportionately high passion for the politicians of Bangladesh.

She said the government was only confirming the fact that two men were political agents and working for the cause of Pakistan. Are these two Bangladeshi more important than the people living in Pakistan, she asked. If the answer is in the affirmative, the government should also explain why and what for.

Ms Jahangir admitted that the two politicians had been executed without affording due process, but regretted that the same right was being denied to the people facing trial in military courts on terrorism charges.

“We are against the death penalty and unfair trials whether in Pakistan, Bangladesh or elsewhere,” she said, adding that everybody knew that the trial of the two Bangladeshi politicians was flawed, but the role of Pakistan was something which was not understandable.

“If they (Pakistan government) are against the death penalty or the undue process, they should look into the trials being conducted by the military courts,” she said.

JHELUM INCIDENT: Ms Jahangir condemned the setting on fire of a chipboard factory and a place of worship of the Ahmadi community in Jhelum on Nov 21 by a mob over alleged desecration of the Holy Quran. She was also not happy over demonstrations by some religious parties against the Oct 27 Supreme Court judgment rejecting Mumtaz Qadri’s appeal seeking deletion of terrorism charges against him.

“If they are going to dictate us then what Zarb-i-Azab against the militants was all about,” she asked. This is scary because they are intimidating state institutions.

Ms Jahangir called for a high-powered inquiry into the Jhelum incident either by a parliamentary committee or by the Punjab Assembly.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2015