ISSUES: Human Rights Defender, extra judicial killings, impunity, rule of law
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is repelled that the Sindh government has kept on hold the investigation into the wounding of political activists and the assassination of a physician during local body elections. Nationalist forces of Sindh province accuse agents of “invisible forces” for the doctor’s murder. They are responsible for the abductions, disappearances and extra judicial killings in the province. According to media reports this is the reason that the government is not holding an independent enquiry in this high profile murder.
Two of the slain leader’s colleagues, including his party candidate, were injured during the attack. One of them is in critical condition. To date, no arrests have been made, with the murderers still at large because of their links with the establishment and influential political figures.
United States congressmen have also insisted on an independent investigation into the murder of the Sindhi nationalist leader. They declared that his murder was an attempt to discourage nationalist politicians from playing their role in Sindh politics.
Anwar Laghari , a prominent Sindhi nationalist activist, physician, humanitarian worker, and office bearer of the Sindh United Party (SUP) was attacked by two gunmen on a motor bike on November 18. This occurred one day before local elections on November 19, 2015 at Qasimabad Hyderabad, Sindh province. Doctor died on the spot while two of his party colleagues, including his party’s candidate Abdul Sami Chandio, were injured during the attack. One of them is still in critical condition.
The people of Sindh and media circles suggest that the murder of Dr. Laghari was an extra judicial killing of a nationalist leader and a human rights defender.
After a delay of six days and protest by the party workers, Bhitai Nagar police on 24 November registered the FIR under sections 302, 324, 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and sections 6/7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act against two unknown assailants on the complaint of Kareem Laghari, a relative of Dr Laghari.
There is a prominent view, mainly held by Sindhi nationalists, political circles and media analysts about Dr. Anwar Laghari, as a popular and non controversial figure was killed at the behest of Pakistan\’s powerful military establishment and their agencies. They wanted to \’teach a lesson\’ to Sufi Munawar Laghari, his brother, for raising and defending human rights issues of the Sindh people at international forums including at the UN and the USA. His brother’s last activity was a memorandum to President Barack Obama about the human rights violations of Pakistan\’s military. He suggested to the President that US authorities give a cold reception to Pakistan’s chief of army staff (COAS), General Raheel Sharif’s during his visit. The reason being the continuous incidents of disappearances, extra judicial killings and wide spread torture of the Sindhi people. He cited, too, many cases of disappearances by the intelligence agencies.
His brother, Mr. Munawar Laghari, lives in Washington, working there for twenty years for the rights of Sindhi people, who according to him, are colonized by the Punjab’s elite class and military. The murder of his brother Dr. Laghari, was widely mourned by members of the Sindhi and Pakistani Diaspora in Sindh and abroad including the United States, Europe and South Asia.
At a condolence meeting, organized by Dr. Anwar Laghari’s brother in Washington, congressmen Brad Sherman and Adam Schiff said that Dr. Laghari’s murder, during local elections in Hyderabad, was aimed at discouraging nationalist politicians from playing their role in Sindh politics. The law makers observed that in the US a political hopeful loses an election, however, in Pakistan the candidate loses his life. They also insisted upon an independent investigation into the murder of the slain Dr Anwar Laghari.
Mr. Jalal Shah, the party’s president, in an interview with a Sindhi newspaper has stated that the establishment has been involved in the murder of Dr. Anwar. He claimed that due to the involvement of the establishment, the police are reluctant to investigate or apprehend the perpetrators.
The attackers remain at large and police and other law enforcement agencies have so far consciously avoided investigating the case. The government of Sindh province has also still not initiated investigating the murder of Dr. Anwar Laghari, because of alleged involvement of “agents of invisible forces”.
Sindhi Nationalists are often targeted by the military establishment to muzzle the call for Sindh rights. Sindhi nationalists have been kidnapped, tortured and extra judicially killed, by the officials of law enforcement agencies. In Sindh Province more than 100 nationalists have been abducted and disappeared since 2001. On June 4, the joint secretary of a nationalist organization, Jeay Sindh Mutehda Mahaz (JSMM) Raja Dahir was abducted by the agencies and 20 days later his mutilated body was found dumped at a deserted location. Mr. Raja Dahir Bhambro were blindfolded before being taken away by an entourage of 400 officials in more than 50-armed vehicles
Law enforcement agencies try to suppress all movements where demands for rights are made. Since 2013, the military, under the guise of national interest, has cracked down on all nationalist and separatist movement particularly in Sindh and Baluchistan provinces. The two provinces have suffered the utmost neglect at the hands of the state. Despite being rich in natural resources, the indigenous people are living below the poverty line. Any uprising against this tyranny is put down with force. The international community has frequently urged the Pakistani government to take proactive action against the law enforcement agencies. Sadly, no action has ever been taken.
Please write letters to the following authorities calling them to conduct an independent investigation into the murder of Dr. Anwar Laghari and the attack on his two colleagues during local government elections. Please urge them to provide protection for the family members of the deceased and injured people. They are reluctant to comment on the murderous attack ostensibly because of alleged involvement of state spy agencies. The government must implement a mechanism for the safety and security of human rights defenders. They must put a stop to the extra judicial killings of nationalist and political workers in the province. These tactics have become a common process of the law enforcement agencies in the name of counter terrorism.
The AHRC wrote a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of Human Rights Defenders calling for his intervention in this matter.