Monday, August 3, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: Pakistan's Prisons

See: Pakistani SWAT Team 

They put you in one.

"In Pakistan, detainees are vanishing in covert jails" by Taha Siddiqui and Declan Walsh New York Times  July 26, 2015

Gee, it sounds so familiar.

KOHAT, Pakistan — Niaz Bibi’s son disappeared into the night, whisked away by Pakistani soldiers who accused him of being a Taliban fighter. For 18 anguishing months, she could find no word of his fate. Then she got a phone call.

Not U.S. Special Forces?

“Come to Kohat prison,” said the man on the other end. “Tell nobody.”

At the prison, in northwestern Pakistan, she was directed to a separate, military-run internment center where her son, Asghar Muhammad, was brought to her. They touched hands through a metal grill, and she wept as he reassured her that he would be home soon.

But when the phone rang again, one month later, an official delivered crushing news. “Your son is dead,” he said. “Come collect his body.”

Muhammad was one of dozens of detainees who have died in military detention in Pakistan in the past year and a half, amid accounts from former detainees, relatives, and human rights monitors of torture, starvation, and extrajudicial executions.

I wonder who taught 'em, or at least worked alongside.

The accusations come at a time when the country’s generals, armed with extensive new legal and judicial powers, have escalated their war against the Pakistani Taliban by sweeping into their strongholds and detaining hundreds of people.

I was told the war was pretty much over.

Critics warn that those gains may be coming at the cost of human rights, potentially weakening Pakistan’s fragile democracy, and, ultimately, undermining its counterterrorism effort.

“People live in abject fear of speaking out about what the military is doing,” said Mustafa Qadri of Amnesty International, which received reports of more than 100 deaths in military custody in 2014.

I suppose I'm not. I'm here everyday until they take me away or I die.

At issue is a network of 43 secretive internment centers dotting Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and the tribal belt. Little is known about the centers, formally established in 2011 and given greater powers by a tough antiterrorism law passed last year. Most are based in existing jails and military bases and operate far from public view. The total number of detainees has not been made public.

Sort of like the.... gulp.... concentration camps of yore.

Relatives of missing people have filed 2,100 cases with the Peshawar High Court, seeking news of their fates.

In many instances, the first news comes when a body is sent home.

What a way to find out.

Last year, for instance, a man from the Kurram tribal district told the court that three of his six sons who were detained in Kohat had died in custody. The man’s lawyer said he had not brought a criminal complaint against the military out of fear that his remaining sons would meet a similar fate.

The chief military spokesman, Major General Asim Bajwa, did not respond to questions about conditions at the internment centers.

Classified documents leaked last year by former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden made clear that US officials were aware of widespread human rights violations by the Pakistani military, even as billions of dollars in US military aid flowed to Pakistan.

Because the U.S. government doesn't really give a damn, as we are also seeing in Egypt. It's about power, and the human rights hypocrisy is only useful insofar as it alerts one to who are the "enemies."

Pakistani military officials tortured and killed people suspected of being militants “with the knowledge, if not consent, of senior officers,” said one US assessment in 2011.

They did it at "our" behest -- and I qualify that because I had nothing to do with authorizing or condoning such a thing.


And if you try to escape:

"Pakistani militant leader killed in escape try" Associated Press  July 30, 2015

MUZAFFARGARH, Pakistan — One of Pakistan’s most-feared Islamic militant leaders was shot to death along with 13 other militants Wednesday during an ambush of a police convoy.

Malik Ishaq, who directed the operations of the Taliban- and Al Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group, was so feared that judges hid their faces from him and even offered him tea and cookies in court. Ishaq, believed to be in his mid-50s, operated freely for years in Pakistan as its intelligence services helped nurture Islamic militant groups in the 1980s and 1990s to maintain influence in Afghanistan and counter archrival India.

Meaning he was likely an Al-CIA-Duh asset.

Also see10 killed in India as militants attack police station, bus

See who was behind it?

Authorities say Ishaq was behind the killing of scores of Shi’ites. He was detained by police Monday on suspicion of involvement in the slaying of two Shi’ites, police officer Bakhtiar Ahmed said.

Early Wednesday, as officers tried to transfer Ishaq from a prison in the eastern city of Multan, gunmen ambushed the convoy in an attempt to free him, Ahmed said. In a later statement, police said ‘‘14 or 15 unidentified armed terrorists’’ attacked police vehicles in an attempt to free Ishaq and his associates.

It said Ishaq and five other detained militants, including two of his sons, were killed in the shootout, while eight of the attackers were killed.

Shuja Khanzada, the provincial home minister in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province, where the fighting took place, said the shooting wounded six police officers who ‘‘demonstrated extreme bravery.’’

‘‘Malik Ishaq was behind many acts of terrorism and he was freed by courts in the past due to lack of evidence,’’ Khanzada said, calling him a ‘‘symbol of terror.’’

But he said that Ishaq and other terrorists went unpunished because prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence against them.

Or what they did have they couldn't, you know.


RelatedEx-prison worker admits role in plotting inmates’ escape

Also see: Sweating Out the End of Jade Helm 

It passed with the Pakistani heat wave, but gave rise to floods.