Syed Haider Shahbaz (UWCAC 2005-2007)
Acting in his capacity as army chief of staff, General Musharraf suspended the bulk of the Constitution, acquired powers to amend it without any parliamentary procedure and proclaimed a Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO). This order prohibits any court issuing an order against the President, Prime Minister or any person exercising powers under their authority.
Under the order, existing members of the superior judiciary are effectively suspended. Many Supreme Court and Provincial High Court Justices are now effectively under house arrest. These measures came on the eve of a Supreme Court hearing to rule on petitions contesting General Musharraf’s eligibility to contest presidential elections held on 6 October. By Monday, hundreds of lawyers, human rights activists and political workers have been arrested or arbitrarily detained across Pakistan. The Office of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan was raided by a large police contingent on Sunday and around 70 human rights activists were arrested. Mass arrests of opposition activists in Pakistan have increased in scale to such a degree that it’s reported that there are no places left in jails to hold them. Independent TV and Radio news channels have been prevented from broadcasting within the country since Saturday. New laws restricting freedom of print and electronic media were issued, breach of which attracts three to four years imprisonment and heavy fines. A few days ago, a mail was sent showing a UWC alumni being arrested while protesting in Pakistan.
Thankfully, the situation, unlike Burma, has not turned bloody as yet. There is a need to register our protestso that we can show our support to the cause of democracy and Human Rights. For this, it would be great if all the students can wear something black tomorrow (i.e. is Tuesday), which is seen as the colour of the opposition now. It would not take much effort and will mean a lot!
– United World College Student Magazine –