Repressive law – 10 Jun 2022

A PARTICULARLY problematic clause in an overall controversial piece of legislation is to undergo further A scrutiny, this time in the Supreme Court. Admitting a petition by singer Meesha Shafi, a two-judge bench on Wednesday stayed criminal proceedings against her in a defamation suit under Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, and signalled its intention to determine the constitutionality of what is colloquially known as Peca`s `criminal defamation` section. It is the latest development in Ms Shafi`s high-profile sexual harassment case against another well-known singer, Ali Zafar. As Justice Qazi Faez Isa pointed out during the hearing this week, there are two contradictory rulings by the Islamabad and Lahore high courts on Section 20. On March 9, the Lahore High Court had held that the legislation was not ultra vires of Article 19 of the Constitution that protects freedom of speech and expression. The Islamabad High Court, however, on April 8 struck down the part of Section 20 that pertains to damage to reputation as being unconstitutional. That, and the court`s simultaneous scrapping of the execrable Peca amendment ordinance which had vastly enhanced the scope and punishment for criminal defamation and made it cognisable and non-bailable was a significant victory for right to freedom of speech advocates.

Certainly, as the Supreme Court has noted, clarity is needed on the issue. What is crystal clear however, is that having criminal defamation on the statute books relegates us to a shrinking pool of countries with notoriously repressive regimes. At least two dozen journalists in Pakistan had been charged under Section 20 by the end of last year, and the inevitable chilling effect on dissenting voices is undoubtedly the objective that the PML-N government, and other state institutions, had in mind when Peca was enacted in 2016. Moreover, in Pakistan, the clause has been repeatedly used to silence women complaining of sexual harassment, and thereby has victimised them further. What makes it all the more ironic is that Section 20 was brought in on the pretext that it would protect women who were slandered online. Instead, it has become an instrument of repression, serving as an extension of the patriarchal attitude that cannot brook women articulating their experiences of abuse and violence instead of bearing their mistreatment in silence. A modern, forward-thinking state must remove defamation from the ambit of criminal law, and instead strengthen the civil law dealing with it.

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Droplets of penitence, strands of shame – 10 Jun 2022

The sight of an alleged-criminal and fugitive Salman Shahbaz sharing the head-table with his father, alleged-criminal and Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, at the banquet hosted by Turkish President Erdogan, reflects the extent to which criminality of the basest variety has penetrated the psyche of the ruling cabal. My head is bowed in shame and, I am sure that every self-respecting Pakistani would feel likewise upon seeing this deplorable sight of alleged criminals as representatives of the country at the highest level of bilateral interaction.

What is the message that Shahbaz Sharif intended to communicate to the people of Pakistan, his host, the rest of the world and, most importantly, his patrons in the regime-change conspiracy by including his alleged-criminal son in the delegation and giving him a place of honour at the head table? Instead, isn’t it his responsibility as the chief executive of the country to ensure that his absconder son, just like any other absconder, surrenders before the court as is required by the law? This act of wilful and disdainful defiance is indicative of the sickening reality that the ruling elite, having meandered into power through a foreign-inspired and funded conspiracy, duly supported by their local agents and collaborators, consider themselves above the law – and they flaunt this publicly as a badge of pride and honour!

This is not the only case that casts a dreadful shadow of infamy upon the entire nation. The Sharif family, unfortunately, has been reduced to being a group of convicts, alleged-criminals and absconders who now have the reins of power to manipulate a withering system for the removal of their names from all crime registers and their convictions overturned. In course of time, this and such other debilitating incidents could be cited as proof of the state’s complicity in criminal indulgences, thus leading to extraction of favours which may not be helpful for the cause of Pakistan. This has happened in the past when the state was forced to compromise under pressure from countries which apparently were our allies but, in reality, worked to damage our national credentials by manipulating the vulnerable character of our leadership.

Since this government is the outcome of a conspiracy which, having been certified by two consecutive sessions of the National Security Committee (NSC), is now an established reality, are we again headed in the direction of being exploited because of our weaknesses, thus facilitating our adversaries extract a huge pound of flesh which they have long been desirous of? This appears to be the likeliest scenario whose eventuality could present a harrowing challenge for the continued security of the country. We are already on the verge of an economic collapse. All that is needed is a slight push and we could go hurtling down the slope unchecked.

Under the circumstances, why has this criminal concoction been inducted in the first place, and why have they been given carte blanche to do with the state and its institutions as may suit their objectives? Why have they been facilitated to take illegal, undemocratic and rabidly unconstitutional control of the largest province of the country without enjoying a numerical majority there? Why have Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz not been indicted in corruption and money-laundering cases which have now been pending for months? Why has the incumbent government been allowed the use of a disproportionate measure of violence against peaceful protestors and why has the petition moved by the PTI regarding its right to assembly and protest not been adjudicated by the courts?

These are disturbing questions. It appears as if the entire system has been hijacked by a collective of alleged criminals to cleanse their names of the blemish of corruption. This is what they intended doing and this is what they have set about doing with no checks either from parliament which is virtually dysfunctional, or the judiciary. The public pressure, which is now visible and mounting, is blunted through use of excessive and indiscriminate violence. This is neither sanctioned in a democratic polity, nor has this any precedence.

What is the mystery which presaged and which continues to shroud the advent in power of a compromised government? It may not be very difficult to let words unravel this mystery, but that may not be enough to avert the harrowing consequences which the state and its people will have to suffer in the event this concoction was given some permanence. Whatever may have prompted the undertaking of this weird experiment, it has not only failed miserably; it has also generated boundless bitterness and reaction across the societal fabric. Its continuation in power can lead to a massive and damning catastrophe that may dent the legitimacy of the state and compromise its strategic interests.

It is time to take a step back and contemplate the aftermath of an ill-conceived plunge into the abyss. Pakistan is already suffering its consequences in the shape of an unprecedented economic meltdown and absence of administrative legitimacy. The downward slide is getting steeper, and any further continuation of this incumbency could lead to Pakistan crumbling under the unbearable weight of corruption and administrative paralysis. Now is the time to act and pack off this concoction and head for elections.

At the end of the day, it is the interest of the state and its people which should be held paramount. Personal egos, even if bruised through self-inflicted wounds, can be consigned to the massage rooms to be restored to health. The country needs to breathe. It cannot be kept alive artificially which would be tantamount to imbibing poison. It should be taken off the ventilator controlled and managed by powers that need to divorce their innate penchant for tinkering with its vital signs. Numbness is setting in amidst dangerous noises. The state cannot function in this manner.

This experiment, for whatever it was worth, has failed miserably. It is only in its quick disposal that the seeds of national resurgence can be sowed. A continuation of this ill-conceived misadventure can spell disaster for the country, the signs of which have been visible ever since the initiation of this incubation. Let it go. Let the genuine voice of people speak for what they want which would be possible only through the holding of free and fair elections in the country without any delay, and without any interference. That is what people are calling for. That is what they should get.

Let some droplets of penitence sparkle on the foreheads. Let some strands of shame become visible. Let Pakistan move on.

The writer is a political and security strategist and the founder of the Regional Peace Institute in Islamabad. He tweets @RaoofHasan

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Newborn kidnapped from LGH recovered, three held – 10 Jun 2022

LAHORE: Police recovered a newborn baby who was kidnapped from the Lahore General Hospital (LGH) on June 4 and arrested three persons, including a woman, for committing the crime.

The baby boy was handed over to his mother at the office of Lahore Investigation SSP Imran Kishwar on Thursday.

The suspects were identified as Fauzia, her husband Hafeez Aurangzeb and his friend Subhan.

The suspects had taken away the baby from the hospital early morning on June 4 when Fauzia approached his (baby`s) f ather, Imran, and requested him to hand his new-born son over to her for a few minutes as she was issueless and just wanted to `play with the newborn`.

Imran`s wife had delivered the baby through C-Section at the LGH.

Sharing details of the incident, Model Town investigation SP Zain Asim told Dawn Hafeez had reached outside the hospital along with his friend, Subhan, while his wife, Fauzia, went inside the hospital. All three suspects were in touch with one another on mobile phones and when Fauzia got a chance, she lef t the hospital along with the baby and hired a rickshaw to escape.

The other suspects were on a motorcycle without a registration number plate to dodge police after kidnapping the baby.

Mr Asim said the couple was resident of theBedian Road and they had successfully deceived police by changing locations frequently. Police obtained the record of 8,000 calls made before and af ter the kidnap of the baby. Dozens of CCTV cameras of the Punjab Safe City Authority and private buildings also helped police reach the kidnappers who had used various narrow streets, intersections, localities and roads to reach their home on the Bedian Road. The distance from the LGH to their home was around 25 to 30km.

Police first managed to get an important clue to Subhan by tracing a suspected call record. They traced the location of Subhan, a worker of a f actory near Chungi Amar Sidhu.

Mr Asim said it was a tough job to identif y the suspect as the f actory was housing more than 10,000 employees and police had nofacial recognition of Subhan except his call record. Police spent a night there and traced and arrested the suspect from the flat of the factory. During interrogation, he revealed details of the couple.

`A police team raided the couple`s house on Bedian Road, arrested them and recovered the baby,` the SP said.

Police investigators said the woman suspect was stated to be infertile and she claimed to have kidnapped the baby to satisfy his family and other relatives, according to police.

It was the third attempt of the suspects to kidnap a baby from the LGH gynae wards.

Police claimed Hafeez was a notorious criminal and he was involved in eight robberies and street crime incidents.

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Gang-rape victim picks out two in identification parade – 10 Jun 2022

KARACHI: A woman identified on Thursday two men as the accused who had allegedly subjected her to a gang rape abroad Bahaudin Zakaria Express.

The Railway police had arrested five employees of the privately-run train for sexually assaulting the 25-year-old victim on May 27.

On Thursday, the investigating officer produced two suspects before the Judicial Magistrate (South) for their idendñcadonparade.

IO Habibullah Khattak also brought the victim to the court.

After completing the legal formalities, the suspects were lined up along with dummies for the identification parade.

The victim rightly picked out two suspects, who were serving in the train as ticket checkers, as those who had subjected her to a sexual assault and also helped three other suspects in the heinous crime.

After recording her statement, the magistrate sent both the men in police custody.

All the five detained suspects, including a train manager and four ticket checkers, are on police remand till June 11.

According to the police, the DNA samples of all the arrested men had been drawn and sent to a laboratory for their cross-matching.

They said the woman was travelling alone in an economy class when a ticketchecker of fered her a seat in the air-conditioned compartment of the train on May 27.

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Magistrate allows Nimra to live with husband – 10 Jun 2022

KARACHI: A day after the Sindh High Court allowed Dua Zehra to decide whom she was intending to reside or go along with, a judicial magistrate on Thursday allowed Nimra Kazmi to live with her husband of her ownfreewill.

Nimra went missing from her Saudabad home in April and emerged in Dera Ghazi Khan claiming that she had solemnised free-will marriage with Shahrukh Najeeb.

Dua Zehra and Nimra Kazmi`s disappearances from Karachi and their purported marriages in Punjab had exposed the Sindh and Punjab police to strong criticism on social media and sparked debates on poor enforcement of laws restricting marriages of girlsunder 18.

On Thursday, the police produced both girls before judicial magistrates concerned at the City Courts.

Dua Zehra was brought to the court of Judicial Magistrate (East) Af tab Ahmed Bughio, who was supposed to record her statement.

However, police hurriedly took her to Lahore without allowing her to give her statement under Section 164 of the criminal procedure code.

Nimra was produced before Judicial Magistrate FahmidaSahoowal, who recorded her statement.

Wearing a red shawl, Ms Kazmi appeared conndent and deposed that she was 18 years old and she was not kidnapped by Shahrukh, as alleged by her parents.

She submitted that she left her parents` home of her own free choice and solemnised marriage with Shahrukh without any duress or pressure.

When the magistrate inquired whether she wanted to go with her husband or parents, she repliedthat she wanted to go with her husband and not her parents.

After recording her statement, the magistrate directed Shahrukh to deposit a solvent surety of Rs500,000 if he wanted to take the girl with him.

The magistrate also asked Shahrukh to approach the district and sessions judge concerned to file his application for grant of post-arrest bail.

Earlier, the magistrate came down hard on the IO for not submitting the charge sheetinthecase.

Shahrukh`s counsel maintained that since the marriage was solemnised in Punjab, where the age of marriage was 16 years, thus the incorporation of sections of the Sindh Child Marriage Restrain Act, 2013 in the charge sheet was unnecessary.

12 suspects released in Dua Zehra case A judicial magistrate (East) discharged and released 12 suspects said to be relatives of Dua`s spouse Zaheer Ahmed who were detained for allegedly facilitating the girl`s kidnapping.

The magistrate ordered release of Asif, Maqbool Ahmed, Nazeer Ahmed,Muhammad Anees, Asghar, Jahangir, Muhammad Umer, Qadeer, Muhammad Ahmed, Ghulam Mustaf a, Ghulam Nabi and an elderly woman Fida Bibi upon executing personal bonds.

However, the court remanded in judicial custody cleric Ghulam Mustafa, who had allegedly solemnised the marriage, and Ali Asghar, a witness to the marriage.

The IO was directed to produce them on the next date along with an investigation report.

Earlier, DSP Shaukat submitted that Zaheer Ahmed was using a SIM registered in the name of his maternal aunt, Fida Bibi, who had also sheltered the couple.

However, the elderly woman while bursting into tears denied the allegations saying she had not let the couple live in her house.

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Man sets parents on fire – 10 Jun 2022

RAWALPINDI: A man doused his elderly parents in petrol and set them on fire in the Dhamial area of the city on Thursday.

Ahsan Shahzad, 32, a resident of Ashraf Colony in Dhamial, lodged an FIR with the police stating that he resided in the second floor of his house while his parents and elder brother Mohammad Wasim lived on the ground floor.

He said after hearing screaming from the ground floor at midnight, he came downstairs and saw Wasim fleeing from the house.

He said as he entered his parents` room, he found his father Shabir Ahmad, a retired government employee, and mother Riffat Bibi ablaze. He said people from the neighborhood also arrived at the scene and put out the flames. Rescue 1122 later shifted the victims to the Holy Family Hospital (HFH). The elderly man had suffered 65 per cent and his wife 85pc burns.

He said his elder brother had a quarrel with his parents on Wednesday morning after which his wife went to her parents` house.

The complainant told Dawn that Wasim, who is an electrician, was later arrested from his in-laws` house. A police spokesman said City Police Officer Syed Shehzad Nadeem Bukhari took notice of the incident and directed SP Saddar Division Ahmed Zanir Cheema to initiate legal action against the suspect. The spokesman also said the suspect had been arrested.

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Slain female constable`s father accuses police of tampering with evidence – 10 Jun 2022

ISLAMABAD:Thefatherof afemale police constable, who died in the capital a few months ago, lodged a complaint in the court of a judicial magistrate alleging that police officers including two superintendents of police (SPs) poisoned her and tampered with the evidence, haslearnt.

The complaint was lodged by Nazir Ahmed, a retired Navy officer through his counsel Advocates Mohammad Zaf ar Kokhar and Fahim Akhter Gul against nine police of ficers, including former SP (city) and former SP (headquarters) under sections 302, 211, 212, 109 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

On March 18, 2022, an SP called the victim`s sister and informed herthat her sister had visited his house to meet him but her condition began to deteriorate shortly after. As a result, the SP took her to Poly Clinic.

During treatment, her family remained in contact with the SP, the complainant said, adding that at about 1:45pm the SP informed the family about her death and on their request made arrangements to transport the body to Karachi for burial in a flight scheduledtotake off at6:30pm.

However, this never happened and instead, Mr Ahmed received a called from ASI Riaz Noon, who asked him to reach Islamabad as this was ordered by senior police of ficers.

Several officers interrogated him separately after he arrived in the cap-ital, including then deputy inspector general of police (DIG Operations) Malik Ovais, then SP (City) Kamran Amir and DSP Iqbal Hussain.

Later, according to the complaint, the autopsy and PFSA (Punjab Forensic Science Agency) report revealed that the victim had been poisoned.

It also alleges that several police officials were involved in hiding evidence to protect the person who poisoned the victim and hurdles were created deliberately so that the inquiry would not proceed further.

Keeping in view, circumstances and f acts, the complainant believes that his daughter was murdered and has urged authorities concerned to take action as per law. Munawer Azeem

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Maid, minor girl raped – 10 Jun 2022

LAHORE: A 20-year-old maid and 10-year-old girl were raped in two different incidents in the provincial capital on Thursday.

The victim ‘S’ has been employed as a domestic worker at the house of one Hasham in Phase-III, Defence-B police limits for last three months. Afsar Shah, a driver employed at the house of Hasham’s neighbour, finding an opportunity to rape the victim. Police have arrested the suspect and also registered a case against him. The medico-legal examination of the victim was also being conducted, police said.

In the other incident, a neighbour raped a 10-year-old girl in Batapur. Reportedly, the suspect Raheel was a neighbour of the victim and it was a routine of the victim and the suspect’s family to visit each other’s house.

On the day of the incident when the victim went to his house, he after finding an opportunity raped her. When the victim family approached police, the suspect went into hiding after locking his house along with his family members. SP Cantonment Essa Sukhera said police after conducting a couple of raids arrested the suspects within six hours. A case was registered and police were investigating the matter further.

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Two women, three minors sexually abused – 10 Jun 2022

Assailant offered her a job, lured her to an office-like house on his motorcycle and allegedly raped her

Two women and three minors were allegedly raped and abused. Police registered cases and started searching for the accused.

According to the police report, in the case registered by a resident of Murad Colony, it was stated that she was on her way home after work when she met with Sajid Hussain in D-Type Colony. Sajid offered her a job and lured her to an office-like house on his motorcycle and allegedly raped her.

Meanwhile, the accused Kamran Aslam, a resident of K block and his accomplice Murtaza alias Maulvi, took a resident of 202 Bhaiwala to a house on near Madina Town under the pretext of getting married. The suspects then allegedly raped her at gunpoint, filmed the assault and made death threats.

Separately, the 11-year-old son of Zahid Javed, a resident of Samanabad, was allegedly lured by the accused Arif while he was going to buy groceries. Arif allegedly took the boy to his camp and molested him.

Irfan allegedly molested the 12-year-old son of Ghulam Rasool, who was playing outside his house in 231 GB, while on Samandari road, Fayyaz Ahmed’s 8-year-old son was taken by the accused Abdullah near the grid station and molested.

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Security guard who raped foreign official on the run – 10 Jun 2022

Police say victim approached them to lodge complaint against security guard

A security guard who allegedly raped an official of an international organisation in Islamabad is still on the run.

The Swedish official is working in Pakistan since January 7 this year. She approached the police to register a complaint against a security guard deployed at her house.

A case has been registered against him by the Aabpara police. However, no progress has been made in the investigation.

The official said that she was provided the security guard named Muhammad Safir by a private security company. “I was trying to sleep in my bedroom when suddenly I felt someone’s presence. I turned around but there was nothing. Just as I tried to sleep a man fell over me and raped me,” she told the police.

Read Woman ‘gang-raped’ on Bahauddin Zakariya Express by railway staff

She added that the guard told her that he wanted to marry her but didn’t want to lose his job and requested her not to inform the police. “His voice seemed familiar and when I told him I want to go to the bathroom. I turned on the light and saw his face. He was my security guard.”

Aabpara police station SHO Asim Zaidi told The Express Tribune that he would update about the arrest soon. However, he could not be reached despite several attempts to contact him.

Teenage girl raped

Police arrested a man for his alleged involvement in a rape of a 16-year-old girl in Kahuta.

The girl’s father informed the police that his daughter went missing from her house on Tuesday night. He started searching for her but couldn’t find her. The girl returned home at 5am and informed his father about the suspect who took him to an under-construction house where he raped her. She told her father that she managed to escape.

According to the police, CPO Syed Shehzad Nadeem Bukhari took notice of the case and directed SP Saddar police station to arrest the accused. Kahuta police arrested the accused, identified as Mughis, within the next few hours.

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