Lahore, September 6: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has strongly condemned the abduction and torture of journalist Umar Cheema and lamented the lack of progress in apprehending the culprits despite the lapse of several days. A statement issued by the Commission on Monday read:
“The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan condemns in the strongest possible terms the abduction and torture of Umar Cheema, a well known reporter associated with one of the largest media groups in the country. The case is particularly disturbing since it reveals a pattern of torture and intimidation no society can condone. That the attackers have neither been fully identified nor apprehended despite the lapse of several days adds to public anxieties. It has become fashionable to put a price on information leading to the perpetrators, when it is one of the primary responsibilities of the administration to track down criminals.
The government must also honour its obligation to provide a safe environment for all citizens, for journalists in particular for no other reason than the fact that without their help the tribulations of ordinary citizens will not become known. If a well known journalist can be treated in this manner one can only imagine the plight of a common citizen, such as Veerji Kohli of Hyderabad, who was released a fortnight ago after being abducted for pursuing a rape case.
HRCP hopes that the alarm caused by the brutal torture of the newsperson will draw attention to the ordeal of the lesser mortals in the country, those not backed by a powerful lobby, and whose plight is not acknowledged by a suo motu notice, or a call from the prime minister, or announcement of millions of rupees in reward for an informant to come forward.”
Dr Mehdi Hasan