Music icon and animal rights activist Cher was ecstatic earlier this year when a Pakistani court ruled that an Asian elephant named Kaavan, held in solitary confinement at the Islamabad Zoo, should be released to a sanctuary.
The animal was being mistreated at the zoo and missed his mate Saheli, who died in 2012.
“We were concerned about his mental health; he was in a very bad condition. We really wanted to help him,” said Mark Cowne, the head of Free The Wild, a foundation he runs with Cher. “He had been through a terrible time, locked up for 26 years, chained up for all that time.”
There was international jubilation over Kavaan’s release. “The neglect Kaavan experienced has triggered global outrage,” according to EuroNews. A petition demanding his release had over 400,000 signatures. “This is one of the greatest moments of my life,” Cher tweeted.
There are other rights issues in Pakistan, of course, but they are only human rights, and far less prominent in the Western media. Some of the stories make abuse of an elephant look very trivial indeed.
Earlier this year, MercatorNet interviewed the lawyer representing an illiterate Catholic couple, Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagfuta Kausar, who were charged with blasphemy in 2013 and sentenced to be hanged in 2014.
Ever since, they have been on death row in Pakistani jails in solitary confinement. Shafqat is paralysed and lives in a wheelchair. Allegations of blasphemy have been trumped up. The couple is illiterate in both Urdu, the local language, and English. Yet they were accused of sending a text message written in English. They have denied the charges.
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