Senate moved to discuss ‘reign of terror’ after lawyer’s murder

ISLAMABAD: An adjournment motion was submitted in the Senate Secretariat on Friday to discuss the reign of terror highlighted by the broad daylight assassination on Wednesday of human rights activist Advocate Rashid Rehman in Multan.
Signed by ANP’s Afrasiab Khattak and PPPP’s Senator Farhatullah Babar, the motion says that the gruesome assassination within a month of Rashid Rehman having alerted the authorities to the threats to his life at the hands of some fanatics, whose names he also identified, had raised issues of grave and urgent public concern.
It said that last month, Rashid Rehman complained to the judge of the court that he was being threatened by some people to dissuade him from professionally defending an accused. 
“It is most worrying that he was actually assassinated within a month of the threats hurled at him, while his pleas to seek protection were not heeded.”
The assassination highlights the denial of fair trial to persons accused of religious crimes, dramatised by threats and assassination of defence lawyers, the motion said.
In a statement, Senator Farhatullah Babar said that it was most disturbing that the defence of the legal rights of those accused of religious offences had become almost impossible.
“Not only is it difficult to find defence lawyers in such cases, the courts are often besieged by mobs demanding instant death, even without due process. The professional complainants, often with ulterior motives, are also readily supported by the police, the prosecution, the media and the clergy, as everyone bends over backwards to secure a conviction of those accused of offences relating to matters of belief,” he said.
He said that the mantra of talks appeasing the militants had strengthened the hardliners and eroded the right to fair trial and due process in belief-related cases.
“While the vulnerable citizens feel terrorised because of shrinking space for defence available to them, the not-so-vulnerable sections of the populace are terrorised by the draconian measures envisaged in the Pakistan Protection Bill,” he said.
“The adjournment motion is intended to highlight the pervasive reign of terror and fear gripping society, and to brainstorm how to banish it from our midst,” he said.

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