Fighting For Justice

“On the next date of hearing, the procedure of challan and prosecution will start against the brigadier who was involved in the disappearance of Masood Janjua”.

Thus spake Justice Khawaja on July 9, 2013 while hearing the case about my husband’s disappearance. It was indeed a breakthrough that the witness statement was eventually honoured; the case has been going on since 2005.

Through all the political upheavals of Pakistan, Masood’s case has remained in the limelight, since it was the starting point of a great judicial revolution which brought about historical changes. It is at the top of the list of thousands of cases of those who were ‘disappeared’ in the wake of 9/11. It is also one of the greatest love stories of a Pakistan struck by the ‘war-on-terror’ – a tale of how the happy life of the Janjuas was abducted.

Taking it upon myself to get my husband back home, I started spearheading countless demonstrations in front of the parliament house in September 2006, shaking the foundations of the Musharraf regime. After that, there unfolds an unending story of street protests, rallies, day/night sit-ins and months’ long protest camps across the country, along with seminars and awareness campaigns.

The continuing saga spans over eight cruel years of dealing with this grief and living through the tragedy of a loved one who has been snatched away. The sacrifices were huge and the setbacks unforgettable. Unconsciously I made my way to the point where today – in July 2013 –my assistance in the hundreds of the cases of the ‘disappeared’ is appreciated.

A complete book can be written on the pain and the courage it took to reach here. I am proud and honoured to share that at the moment I am fighting 749 cases of the ‘disappeared’ by the special permission of the Supreme Court as a lawyer – although I am not a qualified lawyer.

As the number of the disappeared grows, so does my passion and determination to put an end to this torture of making innocent citizens go ‘missing’ and keeping them in secret detentions. This issue has gone a long way in scarring our land and its people. It is a needless compromise of our national honour and integrity and a bloody sacrifice given in the name of the so-called war on terror.

And what can one say about the political will and the missing conscience of our leaders – armed and political? It seems their interests are much more important than the fundamental rights of the citizens. They have not learnt anything from the fate of their predecessors – once powerful, imprisoned in a sub-jail. Like me, they too have witnessed governments change, parliaments come and go and so many top politicians leave the power corridors in the last eight years.

These people, though, never understood that this woman was trying to give the message that no matter how much time went by, no matter how painful the wait was, she would pursue her battle for justice.

I don’t know what lies in the way of the release of my husband, but I do know that insisting on brutality will not lead anyone anywhere. Rather, they should respect a heroic struggle and take up the responsibility to find, no matter how impossible it may seem, a way to unite us and seek forgiveness in this holy month of Ramazan.

I am a firm believer and my faith has been my strength all the way. I believe in one thing for sure: that Masood is going to come back to me.

The upcoming Supreme Court hearing is only a few days away from today – July 30, 2013 – the eight anniversary of Masood’s illegal abduction. I am confident that if they feel even a twinge of guilt, they will hand him over to me, pulling him out from a secret detention centre.

By: Amina Masood Janjua, Chairperson of the Organisation “Defence of Human Rights”.

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A reminder to Busy Parents

A man came home from work late, tired and irritated, to find his 5-year old son waiting for him at the door.

SON: “Daddy, may I ask you a question?”

“Yeah sure, what is it?” replied the man.

SON: “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?”

“That’s none of your business. Why do you ask such a thing?” the man said angrily.”

SON: “I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?”

DAD: “If you must know, I make £100 an hour.”

“Oh,” the little boy exclaimed with his head down.

SON: “Daddy, may I please borrow £50?”

The father was furious, “If the only reason you asked that is so you can borrow some money to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room. The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door.

The man had calmed down, and started to think: May be there was something he really needed to buy with that £50 and he really didn’t ask for money very often. The man went to the door of the little boy’s room and opened the door.” Are you asleep, son?” He asked.

“No daddy, I’m awake,” replied the boy.

“I’ve been thinking, may be I was too hard on you earlier” said the man. “Here’s the £50 you asked for.”

The little boy sat straight up, smiling.
“Oh, thank you daddy!” He yelled. Then, reaching under his pillow he pulled out some crumpled up bills.

The man saw that the boy already had money, started to get angry again.

The little boy slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his father.
“Why do you want more money if you already have some?” the father grumbled.

“Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do,” the little boy replied.
“Daddy, I have £100 now. Can I buy an hour of your time?

Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you.”

The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little son, and he begged for his forgiveness.

A reminder to all of us working so hard in life. We should not let time slip through our fingers without having spent some time with those who really matter to us, those close to our hearts…….

Musharraf Behind Spread of CIA Network in Pakistan

Though the Abbottabad Commission has subtly held President Asif Ali Zardari responsible for the creation of the CIA network in Pakistan, in actual fact it was the former dictator General Musharraf who in the post-9/11 situation had permitted the American intelligence agencies to recruit their agents in the tribal belt of Pakistan.

Former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani and his “principals”, as termed by the Abbottabad Commission, have been held responsible for the CIA network in Pakistan but it was General Musharraf’s own Chief of General Staff (CGS) Lieutenant General (retd) Shahid Aziz who had told The News in 2009 that Musharraf, during his rule, had also not only allowed US drones to use Pakistani airspace for intelligence sharing but had permitted the American intelligence agencies, the CIA and the FBI, to recruit their agents in the tribal belt of Pakistan.

The commission found “Haqqani’s Principals” responsible for aiding and abetting the establishment of a nationwide CIA network in Pakistan. The report unambiguously declares that Haqqani’s “principals” were working for the interests of the American CIA in Pakistan and not for Pakistan’s national interests. In a clear hint about what the commission meant by Husain Haqqani’s “principals”, the report said Haqqani was directly reporting and was relying on the direct instructions of these “principals” working for the CIA interests in Pakistan and mostly by-passed the proper reporting channel of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A member of the commission confided to The News that the term of Husain Haqqani’s “principals” in the report was mainly hinted towards President Asif Ali Zardari.

Almost three months before the May 2, 2011 shame, The News had published a detailed report of how Pakistan had become home to one of the biggest networks of CIA and FBI outside the US following some unbelievable concessions offered to the Americans by General Musharraf after 9/11.

Not only General Musharraf had allowed the CIA and FBI to hire local agents in Pakistan in the garb of so-called war on terror but the Americans were also free to move in and move out without any check. “At times we did not know who is coming and who is going, and what is brought in and what it taken out,” a source was quoted to have said in the Feb 2011 report of The News.

One unbelievable concession that the American “officials” and “diplomats” have been enjoying after 9/11 but withdrawn only in October 2009 on the direct intervention of the then DG ISI Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, was the facility of unchecked arrivals and departures with no scrutiny of their luggage at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) in Islamabad.

Gammon Gate of the BBIA, which was basically meant for food catering services and had a direct outside airport link without passing through immigration and customs checks, was specified for the US officials and for the UN officials too. This special facility allowed the Americans to have unchecked arrivals and departures to and from the Islamabad Airport.

The facility was massively misused and there were reports of even unauthorised and undeclared import of sensitive material and equipment, including weapons. This fact had raised serious alarm bells ringing among the Pakistani authorities and forced them to withdraw the facility but after a lot of damage was already done.

A CAA order, issued on the subject in 2009, did concede that the customs and immigration authorities had no arrangements/staff to check the movement and crew and other foreigners, etc. “The equipment related to aeroplane, the crew and their personal luggage also passes through this gate. During checking, US vehicles and the luggage they carry to and from apron area are not properly searched\checked by the ASF staff deputed to control the entry\exit at the Gammon Gate,” a document said, adding that in view of this, use of the Gammon Gate by foreigners should be stopped forthwith as it was a serious security hazard.

The objectionable visas issued by Husain Haqqani are though focused by the commission but the defence authorities in Pakistan were also in the knowledge of this phenomenal spread in the American spy agencies’ network after 9/11.

Even an American newspaper, The Washington Times, had reported a few years back that the FBI had organised some former Pakistani army officers and others into a band known as the “Spider Group” to local Taliban and al-Qaeda fugitives hiding in tribal areas along the Afghanistan border.

Quoting a federal law-enforcement official in Washington, the report had said the move marked an attempt by the FBI to develop a “free flow of information” to US agents who previously had worked under some restriction with the ISI.

The Spider Group, the report said, was also asked to recruit locals in Pakistan’s tribal areas, where hundreds of wanted “terrorists” are allegedly holed up under the patronage of tribal chiefs. Members of the Spider Group include a mix of Muslim and Christian retired army and intelligence officers and have been trained and equipped by the FBI.

It has also been reported in the media that a spymaster of one of the country’s intelligence agency had informed the Interior Ministry that a provincial head of a private security agency besides others were spying for the CIA. The security agency was contacted and the said official was removed. It was also reported that a large number of private security agencies personnel are doing espionage for the American intelligence agencies.

BY: Ansar Abbasi