LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed grave concern over a report about deterioration of mental health of Dr Asim Hussain, a former federal minister, and his treatment in the custody of paramilitary forces in Karachi.

In a statement released to the media today, the Commission said: “HRCP is greatly alarmed by a recent report submitted in court about Dr Hussain's psychiatric condition. According to media coverage based on the report, he is reported to be under extreme mental stress and suffers panic attacks whenever he sees or recalls a person in Rangers uniform.

The panic attacks are reportedly accompanied by extreme anxiety and fear of death. According to a report of Dr Hussain’s psychiatric treatment at a hospital in Karachi, he tries to block the memory of stressful events and does not have any recollection of the days he had spent blindfolded and in isolation.

“The inescapable conclusion is that Dr Hussain’s mental state is the result of the manner he was treated in in custody. This is alarming at many levels, first and foremost because of Pakistan’s promise to abide by the provisions of the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT).

Furthermore, if a person of Dr Hussain’s standing, who is a doctor, owns a hospital, and can afford effective legal representation, can break down in this way in custody, there is cause for serious concern for those less strong in the Rangers' custody.

“HRCP believes that the circumstances warrant an immediate and transparent inquiry into how Dr Hussain reached his current deplorable mental state and to make sure that effective safeguards are introduced to ensure compliance with Pakistan’s obligations under the UNCAT.”