My Response to Alia’s Open Letter regarding Zarina Marri
Thank you very much for your kind mail. I deeply admire your courage to raise the voice of Zarina Marri in the federal capital. What has stunned me the most is the double standards of the Pakistani media, civil society and the political parties demonstrated in the wake of the startling disclosure by the the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) about Ms. Zarina Marri being kept as a ‘sex-slave’ by the Pakistani army and subjected to rape repeatedly along with several other Baloch women in the torture cells administered by the Pakistan army.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the secretary general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) is the brother of the official spokesman of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). Therefore, one does not have to be a rocket scientist to understand the conspiracy being hatched by the big wigs of the Pakistani media and the army to give a cover-up to the whole matter. I tired my level best to speak to the DG ISPR and seek his version of the whole matter. He didn’t pick up the phone. But I am sure he received my SMS that informed him what “allegations” had been leveled by the AHRC and Munir Mengal.
Therefore, he should have confirmed or refuted the statements. The Army has not spoken up yet. The sheep inside Pakistani media are leaving no stone unturned to avoid causing embarrassment to the army by giving a cover-up to Zarina Marri story. I am sure keeping women as sex-slaves at the military detention centers is not the sanctioned policy of the Pakistani army. This disgraceful chapter, however, needs to be exposed and the responsible military officers must be brought to justice. I recommend the impartial international human rights organizations, such as the Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Asian Human Rights Watch and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan should be mandated to independently investigate the state of affairs inside the Pakistani military torture cells.
We the people of Balochistan feel extremely betrayed today. When a journalist living several hundred kilometers away from Balochistan ‘broke’ a story in the media that five women had been buried alive in Balohistan, an allegation which could never be proved due to the fact that the reporter had not spent a single day in Balochistan, the private news channels in Pakistan sent their DSNGs and media teams from Islamabad to Balochistan to cover the episode live. Why are we seeing a black-out of this disgraceful episode in the media today? Why is the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) no longer interested in constituting a fact-finding team in this regard. Why are the Bolatha Pakistans utterly muzzled today? Where are the editorial writers who keep claiming that they possess the ability to shake the foundations of Pakistani society with their thoughts?
When Dr. Shazia Khalid was raped by a military officer, Captain Hamad, in Sui in December 2005, the then chief of the army and the illegal president General Pervez Musharraf publicly blocked the way of an investigation and defended the rapists by saying that the army officer was completely innocent. Does it not indicate that all the Pakistani soldiers have been recently encouraged to learn is to rape the Baloch women?
I agree with you that the disclosures of Munir Mengal could not be immune to exaggerations or personal biases due to his painful experience of being tortured for more than one long year in the custody of the Pakistani intelligence agencies. Yet, all that needs to be done is to ensure an immediate inquiry into the matter. Why is the country not coming for the rescue of a Baloch school teacher with the same enthusiasm that was seen and widely reported in the media with regards to the gang rape of Mukhtarian Mai or the handover of Dr. Afia Siddiqui. Isn’t the State discriminating the Baloch?
If the Baloch do not have ample representation in the national media, human rights organizations and the top official circles, it does not mean that the right-minded people of Pakistan should also keep quite. Friends like you working in Islamabad are our hope. We need your support at this critical juncture to raise this issue until truth comes forward. Balochistan has already experienced the worst and the most unimaginable violation of human rights in the past few years. An army whose personnel shamelessly rape Baloch women in their cells can surely not be the army that you or me could be proud of.