Editorial: May 2014
The Freedom Conundrum
Dr.Rasheed Hasan Khan
The third day of May 2014 was celebrated in Pakistan with muted fervor and rhetoric as the World Press Freedom Day. This is not surprising because hardly a fortnight had passed since popular anchor and host of the Geo T.V.Talk Show “Capital Talk” Hamid Mir had received six bullet wounds in a failed assassination attempt in Karachi while he was on his way to the office of the Geo T.V. from Karachi airport. Call it providence or luck, but Hamid Mir’s robust constitution, the presence of mind shown by his driver and body guard and the skill of the medical professionals in attendance had a very big and laudable part in the outcome. One has to recall the outcome of all the past assassinations to imagine what the outcome would have been if the assassins had succeeded. Let us see — fulsome tribute in the electronic and print media, public rallies and protest meetings, even strikes and shutdowns, the usual statements of condemnation from the powers that be in the Government of Pakistan. In the meantime savants and philosophers would be spreading their version of the gory event along with a list their nominated criminals as well. This would very completely and successfully confuse the public, thus everyone under the sun,except the real culprits, would be put in the cross hair of public anger and revulsion. In the fog and confusion of disinformation Hamid Mir would be consigned to oblivion.This has been the lot of so many people in Pakistan’s recent history. However, events unfolded in a different way. Hamid Mir’s brother Amir Mir read out to the press what could at that time be considered to be his brother’s “dying declaration”. In this statement he was said to have held an intelligence agency and its head as being directly responsible for the dastardly attack. This was a statement that caused a cataclysm of cosmic proportions in Pakistan’s national life. Fact and fiction started to get mixed up in the propaganda backlash.But let us briefly enumerate the facts to get a true bearing on the case.
Fact—Hamid Mir was grievously wounded in the attempt on his life on 20th of April 2014 in Karachi, there is no direct or circumstantial evidence to show that he was involved in engineering the attempt on his own life.
Fact—It is true that the TTP had made previous unsuccessful attempts on his life but whether this particular attempt was their handiwork is for the three member judiciary commission to establish.
Fact—-It is also true that there are some quarters in Pakistan where he is not particularly liked but we cannot accept the criteria of political correctness or moral rectitude as a sine qua non for a citizen to be permitted to live. Life Liberty and pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights of every human being without exception.
Fact—- Hamid Mir has made certain very serious allegations, he should be asked to prove them before the three member judicial commission. He should be tried before a proper legal forum and not on T.V. talk shows or the streets.
It must be clearly understood that the criteria for Justice demand that under no pretext can a human being be deprived of his right to defend himself before a proper legal forum before his case is adjudicated and all accused are necessarily presumed to be innocent until proved guilty beyond a shadow of doubt.