Islamabad May 9, 2016: Pakistan People’s Party today submitted an adjournment motion in the Senate to discuss “implications of the brute state force employed last month on the villagers in Okara Military Farms” with a view to forcing them give up their demand for ownership rights and which is bringing bad name to the country globally.
The adjournment moved by Senator Farhatullah Babar says that the peasants had planned to highlight their grievance by observing the International Peasants Day on April 17, 2016 in an orderly and peaceful manner under the law and the Constitution. However, the state fearing that it will expose its atrocities retaliated by using use brute force against the villagers.
The unarmed villagers were beaten and dozens arrested by state agencies by misusing the legal instruments meant exclusively to fighting terrorism including the anti terror laws and provisions of the National Action Plan (NAP), the motion says.
The motion has expressed apprehensions that the villagers may also be tried in military courts. “After all if the ATA and NAP as anti terror instruments can be employed against the villagers what is there to stop the use of the third instrument namely the military courts against them”.
An unprecedented situation is in the making with grave implications for the state and society, the motion says.
There are reports that the Anjuman Mazareen Punjab (AMP) General Secretary who has been arrested has now been shifted from Sahiwal jail to a military cantonment.
The incident has brought into focus larger issues such as land and the military and the frightening disability of the state to distinguish between protesting farmers and terrorist enemies thereby gravely undermining the fight against terror itself.
The deafening silence and failure of the relevant institutions to protect the rights of peasants against the mighty has lent great urgency for the House of Federation to take notice.
At the root lies the persistent refusal to give farmers their rights because of the state’s unquenchable thirst for land, more land and even more land, it says.
During Musharraf days the atrocities against the peasants attracted widespread criticism. The Human Rights Watch criticized the torture in words like “Pakistan’s military and paramilitary forces are brutalizing their own people in the Punjab instead of protecting them”. The HRW report at the time also said: “It’s a dangerous moment in Pakistan when the military turns on its own core constituency.”
The matter needs to be discussed and debated with a view to examining the possibility of a peaceful settlement so as to protect the state institutions from adverse international attention as well as protect the legitimate rights of the dispossessed and disempowered peasants, says the motion.