Civilians can express their sentiments through demonstrations protest congregations and press conferences. But being Armed Forces personnel even delay or relent in complying with an order is an offense. You have no choice; you have to do or die and are not supposed to ask “why”?
The controversial war on terror which was joined by one of history’s most notorious despot and venal General without consensus of the nation spread anger and resentment in armed forces as well as across the nation.
The ironic curtain of Armed Forces never leak any news of its defamation. There were some of the patriots in PAF who never welcomed the NATO and US forces at the PAF Air Bases. Who could not help expressing their sentiments? They denied guarding alien aircraft. They become the forthright critics of Parvaiz Musharraf’s anti-Islamic and anti-Pakistan policies. They voted “No” in a referendum of 2002 considering it a way to save Pakistan’s ideology.
Such types of their actions infuriated the loyals of despots in Secret Services, and then what happened?
They were subjected to disappearances from their duty places by Special Investigation Branch (SIB). In habeas corpus, they faced humiliation brutal and barbaric torture and coercive interrogation tactics such as forced nudity, beating, flogging, sleep deprivation etc. by perverted torturers. One corporal Hashmat Kohat of Risalpur Airbase lost his life while suffering torture in PAF custody at AHQ Islamabad.
For obtaining confessional statements of uncommitted crimes they were brutally beaten into submission. They were told that their families were in custody of the Secret Agencies. They were threatened to cooperate and make a confessional statement as per direction, otherwise their wives would be raped. Finally after 130 days, driven by torture and pressure, they made confessional statements of the heinous crimes they never committed.
They were court-martialed by the biased prejudiced and military chauvinist PAF Officer’s Tribunal after 21 months of their disappearance. The trial was declared secret and proceedings were tampered in the name of confidentiality. No incriminating evidence or pertaining to the case was brought against them. All witnesses were “primed” as to who the detained and disappeared Airmen were, and their reinstatement to the duties were linked to the prosecution’s desired evidence. Some of them turned “hostile.” In reprisal of turning hostile, they were also court-martialed and sentenced.
Six airmen were framed-up with fake charges of the Jhanda Chichi bridge bomb blast of 14 Dec 2004. Their plaintiff was the then president and Army Chief. So these all described elements that resulted in a terrible miscarriage of justice, and they were finally awarded death punishment because “law goes as king pleases.”
From the whole procedure of court-martial in 2005 until now they have been manacled in shackles and bar-fetters. No one can imagine the tribulation of a condemned prisoner because what the eye does not see the heart does not grieve over.
Since their disappearance in 2004, they have been facing perpetual apprehensions, persecutions, torture and human rights abuses. They are deprived even from their basic and inalienable constitutional rights, in the name of security.
The doors of higher civil courts are closed for them because the Supreme Court, who rejected their appeal in a ruling in September 2006, said that the higher civil courts did not have the authority to hear appeals against the Court Martial’s verdicts. But, this ill treatment exists only for them on the behest of hidden elements. Captain Usman Ameer’s death sentence was revoked by Apex Court on the 22nd of May in 2008, which was awarded by FGCM earlier. Lt. Colonel Munir Ahmed Gul was acquitted and restored to duty by LHC on the 12th of January in 2009, who had been sentenced to two years RI by FGCM. Civilian Imran Munir was released by the Supreme Court in July of 2007, who had been sentenced to 8 years RI by FGCM. Civilian contractor Ghulam Abbas’s sentence was quashed by SC on the 8th of May in 2009. He was given twenty three years RI by PAF FGCM in the jet fuel corruption case. Is it not the paradox of judiciary?
Still, they are deprived of the copies of their trial proceedings. Is it not ironic, that some airmen, to be hanged, cannot even see their conviction proceedings?
Verdicts of civil courts including apex court, can be challenged, criticized, and blamed with biasing and prejudice. Their punishments can be termed as harsh, cruel, political and sometime called “judicial killing” such as in Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s case. But armed forces and their courts are “sacred cows.”
Unaware of Criminal Law, careless of the Constitution, Armed Forces Officers’ verdicts cannot be challenged. One should recall Army roll in Pakistan history. It means that wisdom of an Armed Forces Officer is more worthy than a full bench of Supreme Court Justices in criminal cases.
Was ZAB’s (Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto) crucifixion a “judicial killing?” A matter is going to be settled. ZAB’s trial was less prejudiced by military regime of General Zia-ul-Haq than the Airmen’s trial because courts and judges were civilians at least, and that was an open trial. But in the Airmen’s case the tribunal consisted of PAF Musharraf’s loyal Officers, the trial was “top secret” and the plaintiff was the then head of the state and military chief. ZAB cannot come back by the re-opening of his case, but twelve innocent lives can be saved by the re-opening of their case.
More than 200 PAF and Army personnel were subjected to disappearances in 2004. All were detained for more than 18 months without charges. They were all declared to be “high profile terrorists” and sent to civil high security jails designed and funded by the CIA, similar to Guantanamo Bay’s Camp X-Ray.
How ridiculous! These Airmen joined the Air Force in their teens, long before the “War on Terror.” Assuming the fact that they are “high profile terrorists” means that the Armed Forces are the massive producer of terrorists.
What do these oppressed, ill-fated and unlucky Airmen actually want? They want their case to be remitted for rehearing, in open court, before an impartial Tribunal of Supreme Court Justices. They seek legal redress for maltreatment, unjust and unfair conviction.
ZAB’s hanging case is going to be re-opened. For what? To prove his innocence. Will somebody dare to claim the hanging of Sepoy Islam Siddiqui, who was hanged in Multan Jail on the 20th of August 2005, without giving him right of any appeal a “military’s judicial killing?” (For details http://archives.dawn.com/archives/44282) and will someone raise the question why a Corporal Technician Hashmat was tortured to death?
By: Adnan Rashid
Ex Junior Technician of PAF
Pak No. 862476
A Court Martialed convict of
the first attempt on Musharraf’s life case.
And other convicts are:
Ex-Chief Technician Khalid Mehmood Pak/851866 Condemned Prisoner.
Ex-Senior Technician Karam Din Pak/ 854096 Lifer.
Ex-Corporal Tech Nawazish Pak/489906 Condemned prisoner.
Ex-Junior Tech Niaz Muhammad Pak/860186 Condemned prisoner
Ex-junior Tech Nasrullah Pak/865001 Lifer