OPINION

Questioning human rights appeals against the extradition of Pakistani Javed Aslam

I am writing with reference to a news item in Kathimerini English Edition on December 12 concerning an appeal by the Greek arm of Amnesty International concerning the extradition of Javed Aslam to Pakistan. Since its inception, Amnesty International has done highly commendable work to promote and protect human rights all over the world. But the appeal made by the group’s Greek arm to the Ministry of Public Order is a travesty of facts. It disregards the fact that thousands of victims of Aslam’s human-smuggling racket had rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other instruments which Amnesty has been trying to uphold. It is a well-known fact that thousands of Pakistani illegal immigrants smuggled by Javed Aslam are suffering all kinds of indignities because of their illegal status… The appeal by Amnesty Greece in favor of Aslam amounts to a disregard of the principles which the group has been trying to uphold. It is inaccurate to suggest that the extradition of Javed Aslam would be illegal. The legality or merit of the case will be decided by the relevant Court of Appeals in Athens and Amnesty should have refrained from sitting in judgment on the legality of the case. The allegations regarding the abduction of some Pakistanis was against the Greek government and not against the government of Pakistan. It is absurd to claim that the case against Aslam was registered in Pakistan to punish him for espousing the cause of abducted Pakistanis. It is also a gross exaggeration that Rizwan Aslam, brother of Javed Aslam, was the victim of a false case and subsequently released. Rizwan is out of prison on bail granted by a court of law. It is noteworthy that Rizwan had implicated Javed in the case. It is equally ludicrous to claim that Javed’s life will be in danger if he is repatriated to Pakistan. Like any other Pakistani citizen, he is entitled to a free trial. If Aslam feels that he is innocent, he should submit himself to the relevant court of law in Pakistan and prove his innocence. Unfortunately, he is trying to politicize a criminal case to prevent his extradition to Pakistan. Aslam has been traveling regularly to Pakistan to meet his parents, wife and daughter. He last visited Pakistan in February 2006 and had meetings with several high-ranking government functionaries. If the government of Pakistan had any problem with him regarding his allegations of Pakistani abductions, they would have nabbed him then and there. It is not possible to maintain a case against Aslam in a court of law in Greece for human smuggling because the crime has originated in Pakistan. The victims, because of their ignorance of local rules and regulations as well as fear of reprisals against them and their family members in Pakistan, are unable to approach the relevant authorities for justice. It is a matter of grave concern for all law-abiding citizens and those who strive for the protection of human rights all over the world that a prestigious organization like Amnesty International has chosen to espouse the cause of a criminal who during his human-smuggling operations has committed the worst human rights abuses. If not extradited to Pakistan, he will continue to perpetrate these abuses with impunity. Amnesty International should look at the entire case in an objective manner and stand up for the human rights of Javed Aslam’s victims. MUDASSAR IQBAL, President, Pakistani Community, Athens.