According to a news item published in the Express Tribune, Interior Minister Rehman Malik has “revealed” that families of several militants were “hiding” in Karachi and that “the government will take strict action against them.”
I have learnt to ignore most of what Mr. Malik says. Yet this statement made me stop in my tracks and wonder whether he had actually said this? If so, what did he really mean? And if it means what it seems to mean, could even he mean what this means?
I wonder about this partly because I have not yet the same news being carried by other mainstream newspapers. Maybe, they too have come to ignore Mr. Malik’s theatrics. Or, maybe, the intensity of other news is keeping this little item out. I hope it is not the later; because if it is so then something really important is being ignored. In fact, I hope it is because he did not say this; because if he did then one should worry about the state of law and justice in the country even more than we already do.
I assume that everyone will immediately understand why I am so incensed by this statement. But for those who do not, let me spell it out: the statement above suggests that it is a crime to be related to a militant, that those who are related to militants are (and should be) in hiding, and that it is our state’s policy to “take strict action” against anyone who is related to a militant!
Since when is it a crime to be ‘related’ to a militant?
What is indefensible is the idea that it is OK to punish – nay, “take strict action against” – the family of militants just because they are related to someone who turned out bad. This notion of guilt by association is not just disturbing, it is a travesty of the basic principles of justice.