A member of the National Assembly (MNA) from South Waziristan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) leader, Ali Wazir released on February 14, from Karachi’s Central Jail after more than two years of incarceration. However, Wazir’s lawyer Advocate Qadir Khan told the media that his client had been acquitted by an anti-terrorism court in one case and granted bail in three other cases registered against him in Karachi. Still, he pointed out that whenever Wazir was acquitted or granted bail in one case. The lawyer further said three cases were registered against Wazir in KP, and he had been granted bail in two of them earlier. He had now obtained bail in the third case on February 14, 2023. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) also welcomed the news. In a tweet, HRCP welcomed his release from prison after two years, but we insist and reiterate that such inhuman political victimization must end once and for all. The National Commission for Human Rights also expressed joy by saying it was “heartened” to hear news of Wazir’s release. The commission also shared a picture of the statement it released in June 2022 expressing concern over the “humiliating treatment” being meted out to the MNA. There is no denying the fact that Wazir’s release comes after sustained protests by the PTM, which has been fighting for the rights of Pashtuns in the tribal areas of Pakistan. PTM has alleged that the state has been involved in human rights abuses against Pashtuns, including enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) also welcomed the news. In a tweet, HRCP welcomed his release from prison after two years, but we insist and reiterate that such inhuman political victimization must end once and for all. The National Commission for Human Rights also expressed joy by saying it was “heartened” to hear news of Wazir’s release. The commission also shared a picture of the statement it released in June 2022 expressing concern over the “humiliating treatment” being meted out to the MNA.
There is no denying the fact that Wazir’s release comes after sustained protests by the PTM, which has been fighting for the rights of Pashtuns in the tribal areas of Pakistan. PTM has alleged that the state has been involved in human rights abuses against Pashtuns, including enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.
The PTM has been an institutionalized manifestation of the anger that had simmered in the Pashtun belt for over a decade. Unfortunately, the state of Pakistan has registered hundreds of false cases against PTM activists, including Ali Wazir, for demanding human rights and eliminating terrorists.
Ali Wazir, has been subjected through torture. On June 23, 2022, Wazir was pictured detained at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre in Karachi, barefoot and fettered. The images generated public outcry, with civil society and human rights activists demanding his release and condemning the still-undecided 16-month-old charges against him. Unfortunately, at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre in Karachi, Wazir was very vocal as worried for his life. Claiming there have been two attempts on his life in the short duration of time he has been there, Wazir requested he either be allowed to attend the budget session in Islamabad or be returned to jail. “I should be taken to Islamabad to attend the budget session and raise the problems of my constituency,” Wazir said while speaking to the media. If that is not possible, he would like to demand that he should be sent back to the jail as he feels insecure there.
According to Wazir, he was first attacked on his first day at the hospital and later again. Wazir confirmed that it was the second time in as many years that he was not being allowed to attend the budget session and recalled that a production order for him to attend a previous budget session was issued when he was imprisoned in Haripur jail in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Yet, the PTM lawmaker said, he was not taken to Islamabad to attend the session at the time.
The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), also expressed serious concerns over the humiliating treatment of MNA, Ali Wazir. NCHR, as reported on June 24, 2022, condemned the treatment meted out to Ali Wazir at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre Karachi. Photographs circulating on social media, according to NCHR were disturbing and violated the dignity of both a citizen and public representative of Pakistan.
Earlier in 2019, PTM lawyer Shahab Khattak said he met Ali Wazir along with Mohsin Dawar in jail and saw, “signs of violence from head to toe on Ali’s body.” He clarified the abuse happened after the arrest and not in jail. Peshawar Jail officials deny any abuse.
As reported on July 22, 2021, Pashtun leader Ali Wazir slammed the Pakistan Army’s use of force against unarmed people in Waziristan, scorching of Pashtun houses, wanton killings and human rights abuses across the Pashtun tribal belt. The then Pakistan Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa took Ali Wazir’s speech as a personal attack and thereafter named Ali Wazir in a fake land grabbing case and arrested him. Wazir was also handcuffed and dragged on the roads in front of the Pashtuns whom he represents in Pakistan’s parliament. All of this was done on the directions of Bajwa to teach a lesson to the Pashtuns so that they refrain from speaking against the Pakistan Army.
During the peak of COVID-19 pandemic, Ali Wazir reportedly suffered from ill health during his unlawful detention. He was not provided with adequate medical care while in detention, but had undergone humiliating physical inspection. In addition, his detention conditions are reportedly inhumane, he has been lodged in overcrowded cell and was not given adequate food to eat. The COVID-19 was quite pervasive in Pakistan prisons and in spite of suffering from diabetes, hypertension and other health complications, Wazir was treated like a petty criminal by Pakistan Army.
Apart from state sponsored torture in recent years, Wazir has also faced continuous attacks on his life. According to Project Polis, in June 2018, when he was campaigning for the election, he escaped an attack that wounded 25 of his supporters. Another attack took place in Kharqamar, North Waziristan, on May 26, 2019, claiming the lives of 17 party workers. As Wazir was making his way to a protest staged by a local tribe, he along with fellow Waziristan MNA Mohsin Dawar, and hundreds of PTM political supporters were shot at by the army when they were crossing a check-point. Wazir was not wounded in the attack, but both he and Dawar were immediately arrested on charges of instigating the so-called “clashes” between soldiers and PTM supporters.
Amidst all chaos, in October 2022, ironically, the Senate passed four bills, including one that criminalized torture of under-custody accused. The bill to provide protection to a person during custody from all acts of torture perpetrated by public officials, The Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention and Punishment) Bill, 2022, has already been passed by the National Assembly and could set in motion a long overdue process of reform to ensure transparent investigations into future allegations of torture and hold accountable to those responsible. “Whoever commits or abets or conspires to commit the offence of custodial death, shall be punished with the same punishment as prescribed in section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code,” one of the sections reads.
More surprisingly, Pakistan is a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), both of which protect the right to dignity of any person who has been held in custody.
Once again, it is clearly visible that the Pakistani establishment neither has any iota of respect for domestic laws nor does for international obligations. The voice of freedom and voice of protest will be crushed as harshly as possible. People going against the debouched and corrupt establishment will be threatened, hounded, tortured or worse eliminated, all for preserving the political power at all costs.