One woman who inspired Pakistanis to rise against intelligence agencies

November 23rd, 2007 - 4:46 pm ICT by admin  

Lahore, Nov 23 (ANI): Amina Masood Janjua was an ordinary housewife until July 30, 2005, when Pakistani intelligence agencies arrested her husband on charges that have yet to be made clear.
Janjuas husband was locked away in an undisclosed location without a trial and has not been heard since.
According to a report released on PBSs website on September 6, international human rights groups estimate that several hundred Pakistanis have disappeared under the government label of “terrorism suspects” since September 11.
For many, their crime was apparently being either an overly devout Muslim or an outspoken critic of President Pervez Musharraf.
The report by David Montero contends that most families of the detained have suffered silently or are too afraid to speak out. However, Janjua refused to submit and started a search for her husband.
“Theres not a single country in the world that is targeting its own people like Pakistan,” Janjua told Montero.
“Ive been telling people that this is like a flood. If you dont stand up today, youll be taken away tomorrow,” she said.
Montero said that no country has helped the US war on terrorism more than Pakistan. Nor, he adds, had any country been so handsomely rewarded, receiving one billion dollars annually from Washington for counter-terrorism operations since 9/11.
According to Montero, there are significant incentives for Pakistan to make arrests, but no one knows who exactly has been arrested and who determines whether the detained are terrorists or not.
The report questions whether those in custody are treated in accordance with human rights and due process standards, adding that asking such questions publicly is dangerous in Pakistan.
According to the report, this could all be changing thanks to Janjua, who has used the weapons of democracy street protests, the free press and the countrys courts to launch the first direct public campaign against the intelligence agencies.
What began, as Janjuas private quest for her husband has become a movement that has rocked Pakistans military regime.
Deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry took up a case she filed against the government in January 2007. He, for the first time in Pakistans 60-year history, forced the intelligence agencies and police branches to release prisoners they had long denied holding.
The case of the disappeared continued to gather momentum. Many of the missing have been quietly released, the Daily Times reported.
Montero states that Janjua helped pry back the lid on the most secretive organisation in Pakistan and its conduct since 9/11. Along the way, she inspired an unprecedented national discourse.
Today, Pakistani citizens who would never dare to publicly criticise the intelligence agencies are doing so freely throughout the country, the report concludes.
To date, the Supreme Court has compelled the government to release 60 missing persons. (ANI)

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