Truth Speaker: An Interview with a torture victim

Jul 19


Aftab Hassan Khan

Aftab Hassan Khan

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Please tell the readers about you early lifeMy complete name is Aftab hassan Khan by ... I'm an ... and Computer system ... in district Umerkot Sindh,in 1979 . ... from T


Please tell the readers about you early life

My complete name is Aftab hassan Khan by Education I'm an Electronics and Computer system engineer.Born in district Umerkot Sindh,in 1979 . Graduated from The Karachi college of Computer Science,Truth Speaker: An Interview with a torture victim Articles Karachi and completed Diploma of Associate Engineer in Electronics Engineering from Sindh board of Technical education Karachi. I started writing for weekly magzine 'Workers Struggle' on regularly basis my friends and father has encouraged me to write for the paper.

During my studies in the Karachi from 1996 to 2003, I was introduced to the ideas of Marxism by Left student organizationsuch as National Student Federation.We were in the opposite camp of Islami Jamiat Tulba. We had several clashed physical and ideological with IJT and were neck to neck in our support for the Left wing ideas. I was elected Hall secretary of our student house.

After my studies I joined a NGO working for the democratic development of Pakistan, bringing peace in south Asia and Labour rights in in particular but was also working for women and Human rights in the country. I become the editor of the monthly magzine ' Democracy News' and started writting regulary for the magzine.During the course of fighting for a Democratic Pakistan, I have been arrested several times. All of my arrests were of political nature. It was some of my writings against the military dictatorship of General Musharraf that I had to leave the country in 2003. I opted to go to Sweden to seek asylum there.

Why did you start to work against the injustice in the country?

Leading an authentic life according to conscience, honesty and a commitment to truth can, at times, be very difficult. I was hardly of 18 years when, as a member of a supressed society , my concerns for the poor, needy and oppressed people were continually troubling me.

In the General Musharraf's so called democratic MILITARY GOVERNMENT. To speak of one's own rights, of lashes inflicted upon people, of independence, peace and democracy is deemed a great crime. Due to global interests, the United States maintaines close relations with Musharraf and supports both him and his Military Government In these days, the person who spoke of democracy is considered a member of Al-Qiada or an agent of RAW.

The Pakistani army, Police and the Rangers raided our home several times. They took away everything; they did not even leave a single one of our pet chickens. They stripped my father, mother and sisters naked and rained lashes on their bare backs. Mortal pen sometimes stops to mention such things or flowing tears from the poor eyes vanish away the written matters. At the top of these tortures, which is actually very difficult to describe or write down, is the arrest of my own blood, my father, my mother and my sister, being dragged to the police station and inhuman insult, and they have killed my father.

Now I am constrained to disclose that in order to avoid torture and inhuman insult for championing the freedom of women, child labor, reduction of school fees, improvement in the standards of teaching and schools and universities in general, fostering love among the student community, and speaking against the torture of my parents, it was necessary for me to go into exile. Life is preferred to death; even if the cost is greater in choosing it, it makes possible the saving of even more lives. This exile continued from september 2003 and I have not seen my sweet mother and sisters during all this time. Until now, I am not in the position to correspond with them because of the strict espionage of the cruel government.

Thirst for human blood, the claws of brutes and savage animals, espionage and torture by sophisticated weapons are still obstacles that obstruct the expression of human values and the innate love between mother and son.

Which difficulties and torture have you faced during all your activities in Pakistan?

Now, I briefly relate the hardships and sufferings that I have experienced during my all exile period. Once the Pakistani law inforcment agencies has captured me and inflicted great inhuman torture upon my person by making me naked and sprinkling very hot water on my body which caused blisters on my skin. The blisters and injuries took years together in their healing. They immersed chiles in my anus. My brown complexion had so much darkened that nobody could even recognize me. Anyway, after some time, I was able to escape the dark dungeons and remained fugitive to unknown places where God almighty kept me alive. Sometime afterwards, I was again captured by the brutes. But God is great who blinded their eyes and they released me saying that I was not the same Aftab. Thanks to God.

The personnel of the pakistani law enforcment agencies in plain clothes arbitrarily arrested .After my arbitrary arrest, I was taken to the unknown place where I was brutally tortured including hitting of continuous blows on my chest and knees by batons. My both legs have been broken and I was in a critical condition fighting for my life.
I was kept in incommunicado detention and denied meetings with his family members. My lawyers have also been denied access. I was inhumanly tortured to force me to sign a pre-written confessional statement prepared by the State accepting crimes that I have not committed. The Military Regime with the view to malign the image of the me.

Articles 9 and 7 of the Constitution of Pakistan prohibits arbitrary arrests and torture and prescribes that no one can be detained for more than twenty-four (24) hours without being charged and produced in a Court of Law. Plethora of international laws, U N Conventions and Treaties also contain these provisions, which are respected in many parts of the world while totally disregarded in Pakistan, particularly in case of those who speak agaisnt the injustice and undemocratic government in the country. Statements under duress are unlawful and taken purely for victimising political opponents in Pakistan.

Why is the state of human rights so bad in Pakistan?

For the development and protection of human rights, people's participation in decision-making is vital. Where people have no role in governance, the state of human rights will remain abominable. Also, 'human rights' is not one indicator. Human rights cover a broad range of concerns. Sometimes you may see improvement in one sector and deterioration in another. On the whole, the main issue in Pakistan is, unless the people get due say in running the affairs of the state, the condition of human rights cannot be improved.

How do you see the future of democracy in Pakistan?

Pakistan doesn't have democracy. We have only the facade of democracy. Prime Minister or Foreign Minister Kasuri have no say, nor can they exercise power.

Prior to taking over power Musharraf was calling Pakistani democracy a sham democracy. He claimed he wants to bring the real one. All Pakistani dictators said the same thing. They think Pakistan needs a democracy which they can guide. Our dictators wants to define democracy in their own way and then support that democracy, which suits them and serves their interests.

I believe that without a genuine workers' democracy, there is no future for the working class in Pakistan. The capitalist democracy has not delivered and it failed again and again in Pakistan. Capitalist politicians cannot conceive a democracy without the support of the military. We think military domination has to end if democracy has to survive in Pakistan.

Does Musharraf have an exit strategy?

No he does not. He thinks if he remains head of the army nobody will throw him out. He fails to remember that army chiefs in Pakistan have not had a very nice life. Yahya Khan went to Ayub and told him, 'Go home sir' and he had to.

General Gul Hasan went to Yahya and said, 'Go home sir,' and he had to. General Zia died and if he was killed it had to be by his own men.

General Asif Nawaz died and again if he was killed it is because his own men wanted a change. Gen Karamat resigned and Musharraf himself was about to be killed in a plane crash.

In Pakistan's history other dictators have used the referendum to remain in power. This is an old trick. General Zia-ul Haq did the same. General Ayub did the same. By a fraudulent referendum Musharraf declared himself elected. He claimed that on the basis of the Supreme Court's verdict he has got powers to amend the constitution. On the basis of that dubious law he passed a Legal Framework Order and amended the constitution in August 2002.

The effect of that order is that it virtually rewrites the constitution in major areas like parliamentary democracy, federalism in Pakistan, and judiciary and its powers. We are very disturbed. The whole purpose behind the exercise was to keep himself in power.

What do you think of the status of women and minorities in Pakistan?

Women in Pakistan are considered half of men legally and traditionally. I am for equal rights for women in all fields. I think that the state has to take dramatic measures to improve the conditions of women. I demand to repeal all discriminatory laws, which make women half and inferior to men. The religious minorities of Pakistan are subject to all sorts of discriminatory laws. In fact, they are considered second-class citizens. They are normally framed in different cases on religious grounds. They are given inferior jobs like cleaning and so on. They are treated like untouchables. I stand for an immediate repeal of all discriminatory laws, including the blasphemy laws. Religious minorities should be offered special quotas in all the jobs created nationally. They should be given special attention in the field of education, health and information technology.

What are your comments on the rise of fundamentalism, and the impact of Taliban's defeat on Pakistan?

The rise of fundamentalism in Pakistan is, in fact, a vote of no-confidence of the working people in capitalist and feudal parties. It is the failure of these parties in power, which has given rise to religious fanaticism. Religious fanaticism is an expression of total degeneration of the society into extreme conservative traditions. The rise can also be blamed on the narrow immediate interests of the ruling classes and of military regimes in Pakistan.

The defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan will affect the strategies of the military regime in Pakistan in immediate terms. But you cannot kill any ideas by force. I see that in future, the extreme fanatics might go underground, but the serious religious parties like Jamaate Islami and Jamiat Ulema Islam will grow in their influence and electoral basis. They might fetch an unprecedented vote in the next general elections if allowed to take part in the elections.

Do you Support a complete ban on religious organizations?

I am in in favor of state banning the Jihadies organizations that are advocating killings on the name of Islam. But I am totally opposed to ban the religious organizations by the state. I want all the religious trends to have a full freedom to advocate their ideas in a democratic and peaceful manner. But I oppose those religious fanatics who are in favor of killings the opposite religious sects and individuals.

Are you hopeful about the outcome of the Indo-Pak peace efforts?

No, I am not hopeful. I think both sides are not interested. I strongly feel so. All this is drama to show off to the international community. Both sides are trying to score points.

I believe if there is a liberal and open visa policy, things will change radically. In early September 2003, a high-powered Indian delegation was to come to Lahore consisting of judges and lawyers. They were denied visas by Pakistan. Similar things have happened in India. Both governments want to divert the attention of the people from the real issues. Let people know themselves the real differences between the two countries.