Is Wasim Akhtar getting a fair trial?
First things first, as a member of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), someone who has seen Mr Wasim Akhtar’s work closely and is aware of his political inclinations, I would like to state clearly, boldly, and without a doubt that his arrest is unlawful. The arrest in question was made whilst he was at court, attending a hearing for his bail extension in relation to charges attributed to him in Dr Asim Hussain’s alleged confessional statement.
My reasons stem, first and foremost, from the fact that the so-called confessional statement made by Dr Asim was made before the infamous Joint Investigation Team (JIT) – a team that has no legal or constitutional bearing – and as such is not admissible in any court of law.
As soon as the Anti-terrorism Court (ATC)’s judge cancelled the bail, which was frankly quite shocking, Mr Akhtar and MQM’s MPA Rauf Siddiqui, were remanded into custody and taken to Karachi Central Jail. Suddenly, decade-old criminal charges propped up against Akhtar by the JIT and he was booked in a long list of cases.
Mr Akhtar, as you are aware, is the nominated mayor for the city of Karachi, the seventh largest city in the world, therefore making him a credible and high profile figure. He had travelled the night before his bail was cancelled from London and the authorities were aware of this, if he was a flight risk, he would not have returned to answer bail. On the morning of the bail hearing, the judge categorically stated in an open court that she is under serious influence to cancel bail, and she cannot explain by whom, hence due diligence was not even initiated.
The members of this investigation team also deputed notorious police officer, Rao Anwar, who has alleged that Mr Akhtar is responsible for various crimes. Rao Anwar, overtime, has acquired the infamous reputation of being an ‘encounter specialist’ and of torturing detainees. A United Nations report has also stated that Rao Anwar his extraction of confessions is based on torture.
As many of us were already expecting, a ‘confessional statement’ of Akhtar soon emerged on electronic media alleging that he has ‘admitted’ to have gotten orders from overseas for the May 12, 2007 incident in Karachi.
One does not have to be a rocket scientist to understand that this is totally fabricated and maliciously designed to malign the image of Akhtar, as well as of MQM’s founder and leader Altaf Hussain, nationally and internationally.
The real face of this one-sided Karachi Operation is being exposed day by day. It is evident that the establishment is not ready to accept Karachi’s mandate. It is not willing to allow Akhtar to become the mayor of Karachi for reasons best known to them. Akhtar hasn’t committed any wrongs except that he stood by MQM during its rainy days and during the previous, as well as the on-going operation.
Freedom of expression is a basic human right for any citizen around the world, but unfortunately we, the members of MQM, can’t exercise such an act in Pakistan. And if you dare to do so, you face the music – as was seen in the Akhtar case.
As a member of the party, I would like to say that we have genuine fears for the lives of Wasim Akhtar and Rauf Siddiqui. Even their family members and legal representatives have not been allowed to meet them. What sort of fair trial is this? If the trial is fair, we are willing to accept any charges attributed to him. We request that the Supreme Court take suo-moto notice of this.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.