Stories about torture

Tough guy syndrome: Ragging is not ‘shugal’ or some rite of passage – it has consequences

Underneath Barry Block’s ominous tress, at the grand Aitchison College, the “premier school in Pakistan”, they stand in a row. Five of them, those unimportant, annoying juniors. “Murgha ban kar beth jao saare ab,” the seniors order. (All of you sit in the chicken position now)   “Yeh tumhara baap hai. Tameez se beth, aur Sir ya Daddy bol. Yaar nai hain hum teray,” another senior exclaims pointing towards one of his batch mates. (This is your father. Respect him. Call him Sir or Daddy. We’re not your friends.) Amongst the hundreds of crises that every teenager faces, there are many fuelled by ignorant, toxically ...

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Considering torture is illegal as per US law, how is a brutal torturer appointed as the new CIA chief?

The CIA occupies an almost mythic space in the minds of those of us who watch Hollywood movies. Time and again, we come across movies that show a direct link between the CIA and various atrocities around the globe. Movies such as the Bourne series and the Mission: Impossible series bubble up plenty of theories regarding how the CIA operates. Specifically for Pakistan and the Muslim world in general, such movies are proof for drawing room analysts that the CIA has a one-point agenda: defeat the Muslims. Movies like Zero Dark Thirty showed a heroic account of the CIA ...

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The eternal night in the valley of light

Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night and could feel someone standing in the corner of my room. I was afraid of opening my eyes to find a Djinn or Khokh standing right there, staring at me, blankly. Eyes closed, I would crawl my hands on the wall, looking for the switch and turn the light on. I would then carefully scan all the corners of the room to make sure no one was around, staring at me through the darkness. But now things have changed. Sometimes – and that is very frequent now – I wake ...

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Aashi: The struggle of a transgender in a man’s world

Honour is taken as the sole prerogative of men in Pakistan; but a transgender managed to set a higher example of self-respect and honour in our narrow minded society. Aashi, a 45-year-old transgender from Lahore is struggling against all odds in order to support her family by herself. Her family consists of an elderly mother and a bedridden brother. Aashi makes a living by working as a tailor but things were not always like this. Aashi, a 45-year-old transgender from Lahore is struggling against all odds in order to support his family by himself. When she was born, her family accepted her ...

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Pakistan’s grim tales of custodial torture and coerced confessions

Did Aftab Ahmed’s death bring custodial torture into the limelight or did a can of worms just open up in Pakistan? What puzzles me is the inquiry ordered by the Chief of Army Staff. What is there to inquire now; the fact that he was tortured? Yes, he was. Isn’t it too obvious from all the marks on his body and report of the medico-legal officer (MLO)? Will the inquiry probe into reasons why the Rangers deemed it necessary to torture him? Are there any reasons which necessitate torture in the first place? These are questions our government should have ...

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The filth of humanity unvieled: Raping and murdering a 5-year-old boy

The terrorists who attacked and massacred children in Peshawar, murderers who end lives all around the world, or States that wage wars on the innocent, are not the worst. For me, even the most vicious of murders is surpassed, in brutality and inhumanity, by rape. The act of sexually assaulting or abusing another human being is way worse than taking a life. Both acts – of rape and murder – coupled together give us a glimpse of humanity at its worst. And both acts coupled against a child, is rock bottom. A five-year-old boy was raped, murdered and hanged in my city. The awareness ...

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If you are the US, you can get away with anything. Even torture.

States exist for their own well-being. They have their self-interests. Domestic and foreign policies define and dictate state acts and omissions on the world stage. In the post 9/11 order, state-to-state interaction has undergone an incredible amount of change with the entire gamut of international relations now at the mercy of a few role players. The United States of America, of course, holds the centre stage, in a global effort against the spread of religious fanaticism and waging a war on terrorism. That being said, the recently released report detailing the US Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) tactics of interrogation after September 11, ...

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“I was raped hundreds of times, by the man I was married to”

That phase of her life ended three years ago with her divorce, but 35-year-old Naila* will never be healed of what she went through during the nine years of her marriage. This is a true story; the true story of a woman who suffered a plight faced by so many women. Sadly, the crime committed against them is not even considered a crime. “Every time my husband approached me, it was sheer torture. Sometimes physical, and forever mental and emotional torture. He was physically brutal and wanted me to indulge in behaviour I was not okay with. He never cared about ...

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Remembering those in Kashmir who exist but are missing

For hundreds of Kashmiri families whose relatives – mostly sons or husbands – have been subjected to custodial disappearances, the struggle for justice is, in many ways, a battle between memory and forgetfulness. They insist they won’t give up their fight; they won’t forget; and they won’t forgive. Among many other serious crimes committed against humanity in disputed Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian government forces are also accused of subjecting between 8,000 to 10,000 Kashmiris to enforced custodial disappearance since the eruption of popular armed uprising against Indian rule in restive Himalayan region in 1989. During a press conference in 2008, the state government led by ...

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Do you have a Sarah in your house?

Whenever I see her, her eyes haunt me. The sadness in them is unspeakable and the horrors of her life, incomprehensible. She is young and beautiful yet her heart yearns for a minute of peace and happiness. She is Sarah*, a married girl who lives with her in-laws. Sarah married into a family of four sisters where her husband was the only son. The torture began almost immediately. Her three unmarried sisters-in-law cannot stand the very sight of her. They never speak a kind word to her, and always address her with stern and blank expressions on their faces. The very faces that smile ...

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