Ali Wazir’s incarceration

Published December 19, 2022

THE malice in the state’s violation of Ali Wazir’s right to due process is plain to see. The MNA for South Waziristan was incarcerated four years ago on sedition charges pertaining to a controversial speech he made at a Karachi rally. A number of cases along the same lines have been filed against him, and continue to be filed, to ensure that liberty for Mr Wazir remains tantalisingly out of reach. One court after another has acquitted him, but legal proceedings against him never quite run their course. Last month, an ATC in Karachi cleared him of the original charge. But he is still facing trial in three similar cases registered in Karachi, as well as one in KP’s Miranshah. Meanwhile, the media has by and large maintained a studied silence on the issue, not even covering protest sit-ins earlier this year by the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement against the lawmaker’s continued incarceration. The state’s determination to keep him behind bars against all norms of justice should have had anyone with democratic pretensions concerned and up in arms. Instead, it appears that most legislators, apart from Mr Wazir’s counterpart from North Waziristan, Ali Dawar, believe this is not a battle worth picking.

However, fellow Pakhtun and Pakhtunkwa Milli Awami Party chairman Mehmood Khan Achakzai, in a speech on Friday, warned of protests across the country if Mr Wazir is not released from prison. He appealed to the bar associations and members of parliament to demand the MNA’s release. It redounds to the Sindh government’s shame that it has not asserted itself in the matter, given Mr Wazir is imprisoned in Karachi’s Central Jail. As Mr Achakzai aptly noted, this is the same province where notorious ‘encounter specialist’ Rao Anwar was granted bail and his own house declared a ‘sub-jail’. The National Assembly secretariat has issued production orders for the MNA only once, when his vote was needed in the no-confidence motion. This farcical detention of Mr Wazir must come to an end.

Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2022

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