Pakistan Families Affected by May 9 Violence Endure Long Wait for Two Mango Seasons

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It is mango season in Pakistan, but for 25-year-old Amber*, the sight of mangoes brings back painful memories of her jailed husband, Mohammad Zameer*. Zameer had been arrested in the aftermath of protests that erupted on the streets of Pakistan following the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan. Despite expecting his release, Zameer remains behind bars a year later, leaving Amber to care for their three children on her own.

The protests on May 9, 2023, led to a crackdown by the military on thousands of people across the country, with many being arrested and charged under the Official Secrets Act. Zameer was among those arrested in Faisalabad, where his family resides. Despite the initial hope for his release, Zameer’s case remains on hold as the Supreme Court deliberates on the constitutionality of military courts.

Meanwhile, in Lahore, 26-year-old Asif Ali* recalls the night his younger brother Faran* was arrested during the protests. Faran had defied Ali’s warnings and joined the protesters, only to be taken into military custody. Now, Ali watches helplessly as his brother remains in custody, unable to appear for his college exams or communicate with his family.

Lawyer Khadija Siddiqui, who represented some of those on trial, raises concerns about the lack of transparency and due process in the military court hearings. Despite the convictions, lawyers like Siddiqui are not provided with copies of the final judgment, leaving them with more questions than answers about the fate of their clients.

The families of those behind bars endure their own struggles, as Ali’s mother battles mental health issues due to Faran’s imprisonment, and Amber’s children long for their father’s return. As the legal battles continue in Pakistan, these families are left with little to do but wait and hope for justice to prevail.

*Some names have been changed to protect the identity of individuals.

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