June 2, 2023
After an interval of over 12 hours a First Information Report (FIR) was finally lodged at Karachi’s Clifton police station regarding the abduction of human rights activist and lawyer Jibran Nasir.
Mansha Pasha – wife of Nasir – took to Twitter on Thursday night, and released a video describing the abduction. She said that they had been returning home at night after dinner, when a large white Vigo vehicle hit their car from the front-left side and forced them to stop. ‘Another vehicle, a silver Corolla blocked our vehicle from behind,’ she said in a written statement to the police.
“There must have been around 15 men – armed with pistols – who forcibly took my husband away with them,” she said. Based on the registration number of the Vigo (BF4356) details showed that the owner was one Roshan.
Following the news of the abduction, Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah took notice of the incident and asked the IG Sindh for a report, while Murtaza Wahab, advisor to CM posted a copy of the FIR on Twitter.
FIR has been registered in the case of Jibran Nasir & efforts are being made to trace his whereabouts & ensure his safe return. Will keep everyone posted pic.twitter.com/Kq5YRpPLrv
— Murtaza Wahab Siddiqui (@murtazawahab1) June 2, 2023
Delay in FIR
According to a close associate of Jibran Nasir the police was hesitant in filing the FIR when they approached them at first.
A member of the legal team who will be taking on the case and who has also worked closely with Nasir since 2018 spoke to Voicepk.net and said that when they abducted Nasir, his wife placed a call on 15 at once. However no help came from them.
“They did not return the call, nor did the send any mobile,” he said. “Afterwards a personal call to the area SHO prompted a police mobile to arrive. When we went to the police station to file an FIR, the cops who were there told us blatantly that they could not lodge the report as they had ‘orders from the high command’. They would not specify what that meant.”
However by Friday afternoon, the FIR was finally lodged under Section 365 PPC (Kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine a person).
SSP South Asad Raza spoke to Voicepk.net and said that the police were ‘working on the investigation’ and that they were going through geo-fencing and the CCTV footage to determine who might be behind this act.
“We need some time for clarity regarding the investigation,” said Raza. “As for ‘high command’, it was just one of the junior officers referring to the senior officers, nothing more. Things like these should not be blown out of proportion.”
Meanwhile, the Sindh Human Rights Commission has taken suo moto notice of the incident and has asked the SSP South for a detailed enquiry report to be submitted within three days by June 6 with high priority given to the matter.
“There is a due process of law that should be followed,” said Iqbal Detho, chairperson of the Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC), while speaking to Voicepk. “Whether that person is an activist or any other citizen, it is his or her right that they be brought to a court of law – not abducted like this.”
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Spokesperson to GOS <a href=”https://twitter.com/murtazawahab1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@murtazawahab1</a> responding to reporters Q, <br><br>“FIR has been registered in Jibran’s case as per the family’s request. I am in touch with his brother-in-law since yesterday. The legal procedure has started, and geo-fencing is being done to trace the vehicle”<br><br>1/2 <a href=”https://t.co/pyFFkiMdzt”>pic.twitter.com/pyFFkiMdzt</a></p>— Bhevish Kumar Maheshwari (@iambhevishk) <a href=”https://twitter.com/iambhevishk/status/1664594238351241216?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>June 2, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
WHY JIBRAN NASIR?
Since the May 9 violence, only those with party affiliations with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf were being picked up and arrested. But Nasir has been the first human rights activist to have been picked up. For the civil society at large it is a worrisome turn of events.
”Honestly speaking I am shocked,” says journalist and author Nadeem Farooq Paracha. “One cannot connect anything with what is happening to Jibran Nasir – he was not instigating anything and he was not defending the violence. Yes, he spoke against the crackdown, but is that reason enough to pick him like this, in such a violent manner?”
Paracha says that this could be an intimidation tactic, to show that no one’s outspoken opinion would be tolerated. “We are living in extraordinary times. No dissent is being tolerated and this is the clear message being sent through Jibran Nasir’s abduction. That no matter who you are and where you live, you will not get away with your opinion since May 9 especially if in any way it is critical of the state.”
The May 9 violence was a kind of invitation for a crackdown. “Being critical of the state will always elicit some kind of response, and the May 9 incident is obviously not being taken well.”
Asad Butt of the HRCP Karachi echoes the same sentiment.
“In the last few days, Jibran had been saying that those who had been picked up and arrested should have proper trials according to the law of the land,” he said. “And yet we are all saying the same thing. This is a direct message for the rest of us human rights defenders that we all must maintain silence otherwise anyone can be picked up. It is state terrorism.”
Meanwhile one of Nasir’s legal counsels said that this new turn of events showed that the act of silencing dissent was now going to be extended to just anyone who spoke up.
“There is really no benchmark anymore,” he said. “Anyone who speaks out can be silenced in whatever way ‘they’ think is appropriate. You say anything that they do not like, and you can be picked up. We cannot even give our opinions anymore.”
However, he specified that in the case of Jibran Nasir, he was amicus curie of the Sindh High Court for missing persons’ cases. “He has been fighting sensitive missing persons cases in court,” said L.V*. “Today he himself has gone missing.”
Uproar Among Civil Society
As news of the abduction spread on Friday morning, the Sindh High Court Bar Association, the Karachi Bar Association, and the Lahore High Court Bar Association issued press releases that condemned the incident.
‘The said act is calculated to undermine the independence of rule of law and to intimidate the legal fraternity,’ read the SHCBA statement.
“The environment in Pakistan at present is becoming more and more suffocating and claustrophobic,” said the LHCBA official statement. “Citizens, especially women, civil society activists and those political workers who raise their voices against human rights violations, are feeling threatened and intimidated. This is pointing towards the failure of the government.” KBA also strongly condemned the act.
Meanwhile, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) in Karachi organized a protest outside the Karachi Press Club on Friday evening to demand the return of the rights activist. An online petition has also been circulating to demand his immediate and safe release.
Senior member of Women Action Forum (WAF) Karachi, Anis Haroon said that this was a blatant attempt to scare people.
“Jibran has worked on several high-profile cases including the Dua Zehra and the Nazim Jokhio cases. He has always been a very active human rights defender and quite vocal, so I don’t understand as to why he would suddenly be picked up like this. I do know he was being critical of the way the issue of civilians being tried in military courts and that he wanted to organize some kind of petition related to the May 9 incident. But nothing was confirmed yet.”
Meanwhile, Awami Workers’ Party (Karachi chapter) has released a statement demanding Jibran Nasir’s immediate release.
‘We express our deep concern & outrage over this blatant violation of human rights,’ said the statement. ‘Repeated brutal attempts by the Pakistani state to silence dissent and criticism in the country are appalling and must be brought to an end. Such actions aren’t only a direct attack on the fundamental rights of individuals but also a grave assault on democracy. Every individual has the right to express their political views freely, without fear of persecution or reprisal.’
Laila Raza from AWP said that in any democratic society, enforced disappearances like these should be condemned.
“First political workers from Sindh and Balochistan were picked up,” she said. “Now they have turned towards picking up human rights defenders who are not even politically affiliated. This is a blatant violation of the constitution, and it’s the law of the jungle as they say.”
Civil society, for whom Jibran Nasir has raised his voice often through petitions has raised their voice for him too.
Mansha Pasha urged the people to speak up for her husband.
— Mansha Pasha (@manshapasha) June 2, 2023
Journalist Bilal Farooqi who was once arrested on charges of sedition and was helped by Jibran Nasir also spoke up.
I remember @MJibranNasir was the first person to find me locked up at the Defence police station. It’s time I must do everything I can for his safe release#ReleaseJibranNasir pic.twitter.com/C1gxQdG4MJ
— Bilal Farooqi (@bilalfqi) June 1, 2023
Nasir was also fighting the case of Asad Baloch’s sister.
— Asad Baloch (@UmraniiAsad) June 2, 2023
Journalist Khurram Hussain aired his thoughts.
More than 12 hours since his abduction, there is still no word on #JibranNasir‘s whereabouts. Thousands have known him for well over a decade. He is not a terrorist. He is not a rioter. There is not even a hint of violence in any of his activism.#ReleaseJibranNasir, unharmed.
— Khurram Husain (@KhurramHusain) June 2, 2023
Meanwhile, AGHS reminded of the grief endured by so many families of missing persons from Balochistan and KP
The abduction of lawyer and activist @MJibranNasir is extremely worrying and is a gross violation of his fundamental right to liberty.
— AGHS Legal Aid Cell, Asma Jahangir’s Law Firm (@Asma_Jahangir) June 2, 2023