Mr. Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif
Prime Minister
Prime Minister House
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 922 1596
Tel: +92 51 920 6111,
E-mail: secretary@cabinet.gov.pk, pspm@pmsectt.gov.pk

 

Dear Prime Minister of Pakistan, 

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human rights defender and Freelance journalist.

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the arbitrary detentions of academics by the Pakistan Rangers in a bit to stop them for holding press conference on the long detention of a retired professor who was detained without any charges.

The officials of Pakistan Rangers from outside the press club arrested Dr. Riaz Ahmed of Applied Chemistry at Karachi University, Mrs. Mehar Afroz Murad, retired professor of Islamic History and a student, Naghmana Shaikh, while they were going to address press conference. Later on police handed over Dr. Riaz, to police and implicated him in a fake case of keeping ammunition.

I am appalled to know that Dr. Riaz was also charged for promoting the alleged blasphemous material of some bloggers. While 70 years professor Mehar Afroz and Ms. Naghmana were released with the warning from Rangers that they will not tell anyone that they were in custody of Pakistan Rangers, Sindh region.

He was produced before the court and was sent to prison on judicial custody for 15 days in C class whereas according to the law he was entitled for at least B class because of his education merit.

According to the information I have received the Pakistan Rangers of Sindh has assigned a special team outside the Karachi Press Club to monitor the activities of civil society activists and even not allowing the press conferences without their information. The Rangers have also arrested a 73 year old professor with his friends on October 22, 2016, for entering the press club when he wanted the address a press on illegal and arbitrary arrests of political workers of a MQM against the Rangers operation that has been ongoing for the past three years and yet has failed to yield any results.

According to the media reports two professors at Karachi University Dr Riaz Ahmed and Mehar Afroz Murad and a student Naghmana Shaikh were arrested by Rangers on 1st April 2017 for attempt to hold a press conference to demand the release of their colleague. Dr. Riaz was the former president of Karachi University Teacher’s Society (KUTS).

Professor Raiz Ahmed was supposed to hold a press conference on the illegal and arbitrary arrest of Dr. Hasan Zafar Arif on behalf of a joint action committee of civil society. He had permission from Karachi Press Club (KPC), however the special unit of Rangers stationed outside the KPC quickly arrested him and two other females as they were entering the gate of KPC. This time officials of Pakistan Rangers manhandled Riaz and other two female by pulling them by their hairs and clothes. Officials dragged them to the vehicle of Rangers and took them to an unknown place.

Dr. Riaz remain missing for 36 hours, he was produced on April 3rd before the judicial magistrate who sent him on judicial custody for 15 days. The Rangers interrogated Dr. Riaz during their custody and threatened with dire consequences if he raises the voice for the release of Dr. Arif.

The Pakistan Rangers claim that Dr. Hasan Zafar Arif is the man of MQM London, a banned group. MQM is a secular political party which is under the state threat. Wheras the MQM London has denied that Dr. Zafar Arif is affiliated with it.

The Pakistan Rangers claim that Dr. Hasan Zafar Arif is the man of MQM London, a banned group. MQM is a secular political party which is under the state threat. Wheras the MQM London has denied that Dr. Zafar Arif is affiliated with it.

Dr.Riaz teaches at the University of Karachi’s Applied Chemistry Department and is a Cambridge University PhD, His colleagues, Dr Mehar Afroz Murad, a retired professor and former head of the University of Karachi’s general history department, was also arrested along with him but later released.

Dr Riaz Ahmed has now being held in police custody and has been charged for possessing arms under section 23(i) A of the ARMS Act 2013. In the First Information Report (FIR), a Sub inspector, Shahd Pervaiz Khan of police station artillery Maidan, has stated that the professor has been actively supporting the bloggers who writes blasphemous material on their accounts.

In his statement Dr. Riaz has been referring to the famous bloggers like, Salman Haider, Waqas Goraya, Aasim Saeed, Ahmed Raza Naseer and Samar Abbas, who had been disappeared by the military and tortured to confess that they committed blasphemy. However with the protest throughout the country for safe recovery of bloggers the government of Pakistan was compelled to release them and sent them outside the country to appease the international opinion.
Interestingly, the Sub Inspector has stated that he knows the professors personally for openly coming out in support for the alleged blasphemer bloggers. The prejudice against the professor is apparent from a mere perusal of the FIR. A fair investigation can thus be ruled out given the bias and prejudice in the Pakistani criminal justice system.

I am shocked to know that Dr Riaz’s only crime is to come out in support of his colleague Dr. Zafar Arif, AHRC-UAC-126-2016 an octogenarian, and highly reputed academic. Dr. Arif, who has authored several books on philosophy and subscribes to leftist ideologies, was recently elected as leader of the newly-elected London Rabita Committee (a liaison committee). His arrest came a week after he addressed a press conference where he condemned government action against his party, terming it atrocious. Dr Zafar Arif was arrested by Rangers on October 22 last year when he entering was entering the Karachi Press Club. Dr Arif was charged under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance for inciting public disorder and detained at the Karachi Central Prison

The Amnesty International said throughout his detention, Dr Arif has been denied access to a lawyer and medical attention. Dr. Arif is a heart patient who has undergone two heart bypasses. His lawyer argued before a court that the veteran professor was aged and sick and needed proper medical care.

I therefore urge you to immediately release Dr. Riaz Ahmed, professor at Applied Chemistry, University of Karachi and with draw case against him. The responsible officials of Pakistan Rangers, deputed outside KPC, must be arrested for illegal and arbitrary arrests outside the KPC and prosecuted in the anti terrorist court. The Rangers must also apologies publically for arresting and harassing of female academics. The Government must also release unconditionally, Dr. Hasan Zafar Arif and Momin Khan Momin who were illegally arrested from outside the KPC.

 

Yours Sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes

Human Rights Defender &  Freelance Journalist

Twitter @wnicholasgomes

Email: william@williamnicholasgomes.com

www.facebook.com/williamnicholasgomes

 

Note: The letter has been modified but adopted from the drafted and published letter  by the Hong Kong Based Human Rights watchdog Asian Human Rights Comission (AHRC). It should be noted that although the letter has been modified for this purpose but the facts and figures remains unchanged. AHRC should be given credit for the information used on this letter . Please do  contact them for further updates.