HRCP alarmed over action targeting HEC chair’s family

Lahore, July 19: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed serious concern over the manner in which action has been taken against relations of Javed Leghari, chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), at a time when the HEC is seeking verification of academic certificates of parliamentarians, and asked the government to desist from strong-arm tactics.

In a statement issued on Monday, HRCP said: “The arrest of HEC Chairman Javed Leghari’s brother, grant of bail to him in one case and instant arrest in another, raid on the HEC chairman’s house and arrest of his servants reek of vengeful motives at a time when the HEC is part of a probe into authenticity of academic certificates of parliamentarians.

The corruption charges that are being cited as the ground for action against Leghari’s brother are more than two years old. The fact that little action had been taken with regard to those charges until the HEC moved to seek verification by universities of parliamentarians’ academic certificates leads one to the disturbing conclusion that these actions are a signal to the HEC to back off.

Though such strong-arm tactics have been the norm under military dictatorships, they cannot be tolerated in a democratic dispensation.

While actions in accordance with due process of law are to be welcomed, those aimed at persecution rather than prosecution also need to be condemned. HRCP strongly protests such strong-arm tactics and calls upon all democratic forces to unequivocally oppose them and act in a proactive manner not only to raise their voice for protection of people’s rights but also guard against people’s trust in democracy from being undermined.

Dr Mehdi Hasan

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