National Security

“The Hands of Partiality” & War on Terror


By Rana Athar Javed

The history of human rights reporting is often highly biased and selective, especially in the areas of counterterrorism and national security. Both the current method and operationalization of sources have become the key driver to orchestrate unforgiving analysis of stories, which in turn serves the cause of terrorists and militants – is an attempt to encourage terrorist propaganda techniques. The recent Amnesty International (AI) Report on the alleged human rights violations by Pak-military is the best example of such effort. The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) has vehemently rejected the report, and called the allegations a “pack of lies and part of a sinister propaganda campaign… [And termed it as] a biased report based on fabricated stories to serve an agenda… against the armed forces”.

The report formulates stormy and dramatic criticism of regular interrogation techniques, and prefers to frustrate achievements of international community in war on terror. The importance of the subject is highlighted in a dialogue form, in order to impose an impression of “hunkering down” the terrorists. No mention of the fact that these detainees must have had a role in aiding terrorist networks, and that’s why they are in such a situation. In one of the claims, for instance (cannot be independently verified), the report states that according to a detainee “there were always five soldiers at every interrogation session, all in Army uniform but usually only one of them…did the talking”. Well, the soldiers rather must be in army uniform and it is always better that only one is talking, otherwise it would be cumbersome to extract clear and appropriate information from the terrorist suspect. Building of critical analysis does not automatically warrants a logical and sophisticated method of articulation.

Therefore, it is important to prevent the contextual expression becoming smear campaign against Pak-military because such manipulation of the final assessment just leads to despair, anarchy and misrepresentation of facts, a thinking that might impact the peace process in the post-2014 Afghanistan. This is exactly appears to be the case in several instances of this report.

The size and scope of the textual references of so-called empirical evidence preempts the analysis with fear and presupposed brutality, and thereby misleads the readers and international lawmakers. This drawback of Amnesty report coldly calculates the sufferings of people, being identified as detainees. Risks to breaching international law are introduced in terms of methodological bias, and an attempt was thus made, to launch: “what will fly” against Pak-military and, this is considered as the minimum common denominator necessary to foreclosed Pakistan from the club of progressive and democratic nations. In analyzing the Amnesty report, the argument also concludes that primarily different levels of so-called evidence is interrelated to the losses of terrorists, rather than to the accomplishments of Pak-military in defeating the terrorist organizations. Hence, the report confronts with the credibility problem. It is important to note that the highly politicized report reflects growing discrepancy between the fair amount of attention given to problematic issue of war on terror and casual mentioning of otherwise most invaluable contributions and sacrifices made by Pak-military and ISI. This assessment stems from the mischaracterization of facts and by extension precluding any chance of impartiality and correct reporting on importance of truth.

Next, hardcore universal statements are placed against extraordinary circumstances (asymmetrical warfare), and using the Article 6(1) of the ICCPR26 to provide: “Every human being has the inherent right to life. Whereas, the face value of this statement is self-explanatory and crucial to comprehend the value of human life. This right shall be protected by law”, however describes as if the rights of Pakistani people are not covered by law. Of course, they do! But, the way powerful control of information is applied is critical and demonstrates application of systematic method of analysis to malign Pak-military and its security institutions. Thus, disregarding the sacrifices of more than 35000 people including 6000 soldiers and security personnel who unjustly died at the hands of terrorists operating with impunity from the US/NATO controlled Afghanistan.

Whereas, the report admits that people, especially of the northwest faced a “decade of violence, strife and conflict”, it profoundly fails to address the causes and processes which led to invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent impact on the lives of 180 million people of Pakistan. Most dangerously, this report is also an attempt to bracket law enforcement/military institutions, “State and non-state perpetrators of human rights violations (p.9).” Placing the State and TTP, the non-state actors together goes beyond a fair assessment of ground reality & operational field because oversimplifying the role of armed forces in asymmetrical warfare might then also barricade the operational duties of every US/NATO/ISAF and Afghan soldier.

The ensuing analysis of report gives the impression that producing security for the victims of international terrorism can be challenged just by limited and designed research activity, especially terminating substantial agreement between society and law enforcement agencies, as the primary purpose of which is to protect the human rights of their fellow citizens. This attempt of Amnesty International is reported in the shape of a statement that, “the state [of Pakistan] may have reasserted its ‘writ’ in areas previously controlled by the Taliban over the last three years, but this will have a limited impact on lawlessness in the Tribal Areas…” (p. 62).

Toward the end of this report, the authors largely remain insensitive to the importance of the “writ” of the government on the lawlessness areas in the Tribal Areas, especially when the terrorist organizations backed by their foreign “cruel hands” kill innocent women and children on daily basis. For the most part, this report is a typical and disconcerted effort to serve the cause of those who seek to generate further disharmony between Pakistan and the allied nations. This worst option by the “hands of partiality” should be rejected!