My father, Dr Hasan Zafar-Arif, has been detained in Karachi Central Jail since October 22, 2016. He was originally detained under the MPO ordinance. On December 21, 2016 he was released and subsequently re-arrested and charged with facilitating hate speech due to his presence in July 2016 at an event where a recorded speech by Altaf Hussain was played. This act of listening to a speech has been classified as ‘facilitating hate speech’ and appears on an FIR from July 2016 on which Dr Zafar-Arif’s name does not appear. Ironically, those whose names were on the FIR have since walked free. Since January this year, my father’s hearing has been delayed or interrupted on an almost weekly basis. At no point has he or my family been given an adequate explanation for these absences and delays.
This is undeniably and inarguably a gross injustice, and one we have so far been helpless to act against. Article 10A of the constitution ensures every citizen’s right to a fair trial and due process for the determination of his civil rights and in any criminal charge against him, and this is a right my father has been repeatedly denied. My father is seventy years old and a heart patient. Remaining in the poor conditions of the overcrowded jail without access to a proper doctor or to his prescribed medication poses a serious risk to his life. He continues to be incarcerated despite his poor health without even the opportunity to entertain bail. His next hearing is on April 1. We hope that the authorities will ensure due process and justice for my father.