Terror and turmoil: whats going to happen in Pakistan?

This morning's news that there’s been a bomb attack on a hospital in Pakistan is chilling.

Coming so soon after Pervez Musharraf’s resignation yesterday, you really get a feeling of a country “in turmoil” (to use the pundit-friendly jargon). What’s going to happen next in this country is probably anyone’s guess, but the reporters and commentators are spilling virtual ink all over the place to make sense of it.

The always-readable Andy Buncombe in the Independent (under the inevitable “turmoil” heading) runs us through the reaction in Pakistan and, like the Telegraph’s Pakistan correspondent, looks at speculation that Musharraf may be forced into exile - possibly to London. Meanwhile, the Guardian’s gone big on it as well, and aside from Kamila Samsie’s nicely written piece (including how she texted a friend half way through Musharraf’s hour-long resignation speech unsure whether it WAS a resignation speech!), there are oodles of other comments on their Comment Is Free site.

What most of the journos are touching on - but not exploring - is Pakistan’s human rights record under Musharraf. No-one in their right mind would pretend that this was exactly blemish-free before Musharraf seized power, but the big concern that Amnesty has had pretty much throughout his nine years has been the behaviour of the security forces in pursuing the ”war on terror”.

A few years ago a study showed that exactly two-thirds (66%) of Guantanamo prisoners (about whom origins were known) had been apprehended in Pakistan. This was all part of the post-2001 US dragnet operation. Offering $5,000 “inducements” to village leaders in Pakistan (and Afghanistan), the US - working in concert with the Pakistani security forces - swept up hundreds of people. Years later, they’re still there - uncharged and untried - in GITMO.

Meanwhile, and here things get very close to home for Mr Musharraf, many “missing” people in Pakistan are also being held in secret detention throughout the country. Amnesty put out a 50-page report on this last month. See my blog on that and - when you have! - suffice it to say that Amina Janjua, founder of a Pakistani group pressing for news on the country’s phantom prisoners, will be joining Amnesty and numerous others outside the Pakistan High Commission in London (12-1.30pm) to call for the release or fair trial of Pakistan’s “disappeared”.

It’s hard to say what’s going to happen next in Pakistan later today, never mind the end of next week - but, nevertheless, join us on Saturday week if you want to push for justice for Amina’s husband Masood and the hundreds of others.

Former President Musharraf might have swatted this issue away as “nonsense”. We don’t.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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