By Tahir Nasser
Before leaving office, U.S. President Barack Obama commuted the jail sentence of Chelsea Manning, the American soldier convicted and imprisoned in 2013 for leaking sensitive documents to Wikileaks.
While Manning’s imprisonment and release have rightly received worldwide coverage, the eight-year imprisonment of an 80-year old Pakistani man in January 2016 for selling books, has largely gone unnoticed.
On the 2 December 2015, the Punjab’s Counter-Terrorism department accompanied by Pakistan’s Elite Force raided a simple bookstore owned by one elderly man: Abdul Shakoor. They seized magazines, books, leaflets and newspapers.
The arrested 80-year-old and his shop assistant were then held in unknown locations and denied the right to contact their families. Their case was rushed through the courts so that no defence could be prepared; only witnesses for the prosecution, consisting armed officers who raided the bookstore, gave their testimony.