Pakistan women opponents threatened and intimated Asian Human Rights Commission ’Gravely Concerned’
15 May, 2007
By Farzana Raja
KARACHI, Pakistan: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has deplored the threat to opposition female members of Karachi’s City Council by members of General Musharaf’s regime.
PPP Parliamentarian Naheed Khan called upon the regime to take notice of the threats made by the Mutahida Qoumi Movement (MQM), part of President Pervez Musharraf’s ruling coalition in Pakistan.
The incident occurred on April 26, 2007. Four female opposition members were "severely beaten" and suffered injuries along with six male members who tried to defend them.
The Asian Human Rights Commission has also taken notice of the threats and said it is "gravely concerned" about physical attacks and threats against female opposition members of Karachi’s City Council by members of the MQM.
"We are concerned that the Sindh police refused to register cases against the ruling Party Council members," the Commission said, "and instead registered cases of hooliganism against the opposition Council members who were the victims of the attacks."
The attacks occurred after an oath ceremony for two newly-elected members of the City Council, which consists of 240 members including 75 from opposition Parties.
The new MQM member was sworn in, but witnesses said the presiding officer, Mrs. Nasreen Jalil, also Deputy Mayor of Karachi, refused to seat the Opposition member and then, in a planned action, signaled to 30 to 40 MQM members to start their attack.
Female opposition members were singled out in the attack, complainants said, and were struck with fists, belts, sticks and chairs as the presiding officer looked on and refused to interfere. The women were called prostitutes and threatened, witnesses said.
The opposition Party member who had been refused his oath, Mohammad Yaqoob, was severely beaten and received internal injuries and a broken hand. Photographs of the beatings were published in local newspapers and shown on television in Pakistan.
At Karachi’s City Court Police Station, MQM members filed complaints against the opposition for hooliganism. When opposition Party members arrived, the Station House Officer refused to accept their complaints. An appeal to the Deputy Superintendent of Police was also refused.
Earlier this year an assassination attempt took place against Opposition Parliamentarian Dr Azra Zardari, sister-in-law of the former Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. Police refused to file a criminal complaint against a Provincial Minister and his bodyguards who were accused of the assassination attempt.
The PPP said that the criminal system in the country was collapsing as a result of political oppression. The PPP accused the government of protecting political supporters who were breaking the law. It said that the regime was denying legal protection to the citizens of Pakistan who had political views different to it.
Following protests from the Opposition, the public and the media, the presiding officer Mrs. Nasreen Jalil refused to punish the attackers, but did order one member not to attend three sessions of the Council as a penalty.