The most tragic part of Saud Memon’s story is the fact that he never told it. He never could. Not because of any curtailment of the freedom of speech, not because of political pressure, not because he didn’t want to. He could not tell the world about what goes on in Guantanamo Bay or in ISI’s cells in Pakistan. He died before that.
In its 60-year history, the Supreme Court of Pakistan could not have witnessed a more tragic scene than what it saw on May 4th, 2007: A 44-years-old emaciated man, reduced to 80 pounds, was produced before the Court, lying on a stretcher. Abducted by the security agencies in 2003, he had been kept in detention in Guantanamo Bay, then in Afghanistan and finally in ISI’s torture cells in Pakistan. He had survived Guantanamo. He survived Afghanistan. But ISI took him. Finally, as a result of a nationwide campaign by families of the missing people, and the Supreme Court’s suo moto intervention, the government was forced to release him. They dumped him in a garbage heap near his house, after beating him to a pulp. Some neighbors recognized him and brought him home. He could neither walk nor hold his head. A week later he was presented before the country’s Supreme Court which had managed to make the ISI capitulate
As many in his audience were brought to tears, advocate Shaukat Akhtar Siddiqui proclaimed, “This skeleton of a man has a reward of Rs3 million on his head in the Red Book of our Interior Ministry,” pointing to the emaciated body of Saud Memon.
The FBI had arrested Mr Memon, 44, on March 7, 2003, because Daniel Pearl’s body had been found on a plot of land allegedly owned by him. He was never given a chance to defend, because a case was never filed against him. He was not even arrested because then he'd have to be presented before a court. There was so little evidence to link him with that crime that he could not even have been indicted before any court, in Pakistan or the US. The governments in Pakistan and the United States, though, couldn’t care less. Daniel Pearl was dead and someone or another had to be framed. Saud Memon was unlucky enough.
On Saturday, May 18, 2007 only 20 days after his was finally released from illegal detention, he died of meningitis and brain TB - all that he had gone through in the US’s and Pakistan’s torture cells simply killed him.
As Muharram wanes, the victims of Karbala must not wither from our memories. Here in the our midst, quite bemoaned remains a son of the nation, Saud Memon – on of the most tragic victims in Pakistan’s history - and hundreds of other missing people still languish in torture cells. If the text-books that we teach our kids are to bear the names of martyrs and victims, then shoulder to shoulder with all those soldiers should be standing (or lying down) this victim of the government’s brutality, and, perhaps, our own insensitivity. Indeed, the true marsia of our times is the story of Pakistan’s missing – a story that we must sit in a majalis to weep over, in the hope that by this public admission of guilt and expression of remorse, a nation that has so brutally wronged so many of its sons and daughter may be forgiven. May it be that in this weeping, we find atonement for our sins.
This was essentially the message of an event arranged today by the Rule of Law Project and LUMS Law & Politics Society.