Using torture during an investigation has become a common practice in Pakistan – it no longer prompts one to ask questions. The most recent case of an MQM worker Aftab Ahmed Hussain, who died in the custody of the paramilitary Rangers on Tuesday, has reopened the discussion over the custodial torture. Yet, the outcry is muted, and understandably so. Our political leadership is often complicit and our society too used to such brutality.

As their first response, the Pakistan Rangers denied Aftab was tortured and claimed he suffered a heart attack but, later on, when media confirmed severe torture marks on Aftab’s body, the Director General of Rangers in Sindh, Major General Bilal Akber, confessed that Aftab was tortured but that was not the cause of his death. Moreover, he highlighted that standard operating procedures were not followed by some Rangers personnel in the case, and vowed to take strict action against those responsible for misconduct.

There has to be a middle ground when dealing with suspects. Regardless of the violent history of the MQM, the death was unfortunate. It means that the law is different for different people, and justice and humane treatment is inaccessible. All other political parties are silent over this matter, where one can also wonder if there is pressure on them to stay quiet. International bodies seem to be the only ones speaking up as well as the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). Almost five years after the ratification of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, Pakistan has failed to enact a law recognising torture as a criminal offence and providing victims with recourse to an impartial and independent investigation for torture complaints.

While many applaud the efforts of the paramilitary forces, it is time we start asking questions about whose lives and what rights are being sacrificed in order to provide us with security? If we are to become a safe country, the rule of law must be followed on all accounts, and even our protectors have to be accountable.