Returning inadvertent border-crossers and more: Glimpses of humanity

fauzia-ansari-and-nehal-ansari-parents-of-hamidLast week I wrote this short piece below for Aman ki Asha (hope for peace) after the Indian border security forces returned a young, inadvertent border-crosser to Pakistan. Today, there’s news that the Pakistan government will allow the wife of the Indian national and alleged spy Kulbushan Yadav to meet him “on humanitarian grounds”.

This raises hopes that the parents of another Indian prisoner Hamid Ansari will finally also be allowed to meet him. In fact, as the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy has said, the families of all cross-border prisoners should be given access to their loved ones in prison across the border.  Continue reading

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Hope for young Ateeq, a real life ‘Ramchand Pakistani’

Below, a report I wrote on Feb 23, published in The News aman ki asha page of Feb 24 (see accompanying report ‘Prisoners of archaic laws‘ by Rabia Ali), shortly before 12-year old Ateeq’s hearing in Amritsar on Feb 26 – which Asma Jahangir and I.A. Rehman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan managed to attend.

12-year old Ateeq from Lahore, currently in the Juvenile Jail in Hoshiarpur, India

Here is an update from Asad Jamal in Lahore on Feb 26:
Release orders were passed for the 12 years old Pakistani boy in Indian Juvenile (Hoshiarpur) Prison after Asma Jahangir appeared in the Juvenile Court in Amritsar today. Now the Pakistan authorities have to complete procedural matters and bring the boy back home. Asma Jahangir met the boy in Amritsar and found him traumatised. She had taken video film of the boy’s father as well some clothes for him. Local lawyers/activists arranged and distributed sweets after the court order. Continue reading

Prisoners’ anguish

A lifetime lost...Left with no speech, no memory, no family (photo courtesy The News)

A lifetime lost...Left with no speech, no memory, no family (photo courtesy The News)

An 85-year old man acquitted after 38 years in prison has little to live for – he has lost his speech and memory, and is now being cared for by Christian missionaries at a shelter in Malir, Karachi.

See ‘The News‘ editorial 38 years .

The same day as news of Saeed-ul-Haq’s acquittal was published, newspapers reported that a Pakistani had been ‘tortured to death’ in an Indian prison. M. Nawaz Jamil had been a student of class 9 in 1991 when Indian troops arrested him along the Line of Control. He ended up serving far more than the six years he was sentenced for. This is what Indians regularly do to Pakistani prisoners and vice versa.

As I wrote in an article last December, ‘Media falls into old trap’):
Prison conditions and how the police treat prisoners in both countries are no secret. It is not that we treat Indian prisoners well, while they viciously torture Pakistanis. Sometimes a prisoner’s death results not from outright torture but illness arising from neglect — poor living conditions in a hostile environment, extreme temperatures, lack of medical attention, all compounded by lack of contact with loved ones back home.

There have been many instances of Pakistani prisoners dying in Indian prisons and vice versa. But what strikes me is the cruelty with which we treat our own prisoners, as the case of Saeed ul Haq shows. Not to mention all those other deaths in custody that periodically surface.

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