Lawyer and activist Jibran Nasir on Thursday asked the government to provide a list of all the people detained on charges of vandalism and violence on May 9, as he raised concerns that the families of those under custody were still unaware of their whereabouts.
Violent protests erupted across the country on May 9 following the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan. During the demonstrations, angry mobs vandalised state and military installations, including the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, the Lahore Corps Commander’s House and a Radio Pakistan office in Peshawar.
The events were strongly condemned by both the civil and military leaders, who decided to observe May 9 as “Black Day”. The army has also resolved to try the “rioters” under army laws — a decision which was endorsed by the National Security Committee.
Along with the criticism, the government has also launched an intense crackdown on those behind the violence, who it alleged mostly belong to the PTI. Prominent party leaders such as Shireen Mazari, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Asad Umar and Ali Haider Zaidi have been sent to jail under the Maintenance of Public Order.
On the other hand, former prime minister Imran Khan has claimed that the miscreants involved in the riots were “agencies men”, saying that he has video evidence to prove it. However, the PTI chief is yet to share the evidence.
Imran has also said on several occasions that over 7,000 PTI supporters — mostly civilians — have been arrested and “illegally abducted” in the aftermath of the protest.
Raising concerns over the arrest of the “1,000s of citizens across the country”, lawyer Jibran Nasir said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif should disclose the number of women and juveniles detained so far.
“A list of all in custody must be made public with the current location of their detention as several families remain unaware of whereabouts,” he tweeted.
Nasir stressed that every citizen had the right to access justice but “when citizens don’t know the details of the charges against them, their families don’t know their whereabouts to reach them or be made aware of their physical condition and state”.
“No operation to preserve law should violate the law,” he highlighted.
The activist added: “The condition of PTI leaders whose every movement is reported on media, who have a panel of lawyers at their disposal & political connections is in front of us so just imagine the plight of ordinary citizens who may be in jail for mere association with PTI. Who will ensure their rights?”
Another lawyer Haider Ali Butt also lamented that citizens were being “politically victimised” for merely being affiliated with the PTI.
“Their houses are being raided and the police are arresting them by violating chadar aur char diwari [privacy],” he said, adding that he was getting calls from the loved ones of those detained.
“The whereabouts of many of the detained people are also unknown. Such oppression is reminiscent of the era of brutal dictators.”
Butt further stated that lawyers of the Progressive Lawyers Forum had decided to provide the detainees with “all the possible legal assistance”.
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