PAKISTAN: An ISI torture victim may commit suicide if not rehabilitated and his family may join


Mr. Mohammad Iqbal Awan, who was kept in an army torture cell by Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) officials for five years, announced that he will commit suicide along with his wife and child on August 14, on Independence Day of Pakistan, if the government and Pakistan army do not rehabilitate him and his family. After the severe torture he suffered during detention, he is not able to walk or even feed himself.

Mr. Mohammad Iqbal Awan, 39, son of Mohammad Yaqoob Awan, a resident of Salakan village, Tehseel Athmuqam, Neelam district, (post office Baiyan, Azad Kashmir of Pakistan), was recruited in the army as a Naik, the lowest rank, in February 2, 1990, in the 650 Mujahadeen Battalion. His military serial number was 433683. He can be contacted at 92-5821459209 (inside Pakistan 05821459209).

On November 27, 2003 he was arrested by Major Shoukat of the ISI, stationed at Neelam district, and was accused of working for an Indian Intelligence agency, the RAW. He was released in December 2008 after being acquitted by the martial court of Kharain district, Punjab province.

After his arrest he was blindfolded and taken away by persons in uniform from sub district Leepa, Muzaffarabad district, the capital of Azad Kashmir (Pakistani held Kashmir).

His back bone was allegedly fractured during the torture and he is now unable to sit or walk. His condition is so demeaning that even using the toilet in the usual position is extremely painful for him. He now has a surgical steel rod of 18 inches attached to his spinal column which he had to pay for at his own expense. He lost his front teeth and four other teeth during the torture. His legs were burnt by boiling water and he has a deep scar on the head. During his incarceration he was usually held in a darkened cell and on several occasions he was locked in stinking toilets. Please see the statement of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) about his story of torture in army detention centres.

Mr. Iqbal Awan is totally dejected by his miseries and financial situation as he has already spent Rs. 3 million (USD35.300) for medical care after his release in December 2008. Ironically, he was dismissed from the army when he was 37 years old as he was no longer physically fit for his position due to the inhuman treatment he received while in army detention. He only received a pension and no benefits were paid for his long service. The army also refused to provide him with medical treatment at a military hospital. In total, Mr. Iqbal Awan was employed by the army for 18 years, if we count the five years he spent in army detention for no reason. But to avoid any legal responsibility for keeping him five years in a torture cell, the Pakistan army abandoned him and made him a burden for his family.

This is a very alarming situation as the perpetrators of torture are enjoying impunity because of their powerful position. Since the Court of Marshal of Pakistan army acquitted Mr. Iqbal Awan, it was the army and the ISI’s responsibility to provide all medical treatment and resettle him. After his innocence was proved, the ISI officials should have been prosecuted under armed forces laws, as well as civil laws.

As no law explicitly forbids torture in Pakistan, the armed forces and the police are able to run torture cells all over the country with full impunity. Even though the government of Pakistan has ratified the UN Convention against Torture (CAT), no law criminalizes torture in custody by state agents. Therefore the people have to suffer the criminalized mindset of law enforcement agencies.

The AHRC urges the government and the Pakistan army to pay compensation to Mohammad Iqbal for keeping him for five years in an army torture cell in Pakistani held Kashmir, under false charges of working for an enemy country and for disabling him for the rest of his life. He should be rehabilitated and should be treated according to the laws of the country. The ISI officials who were responsible for inflicting torture should be prosecuted.

Mohamad Iqbal says that if he does commit suicide along with his family members, the government and the army, including the ISI, will be responsible for his act.

Source: AHRC News