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Category — Human Rights

Policeman kills three for ‘honour’: Report in Dawn, Sept 24, 2017

TIMERGARA: A police official allegedly killed three people, including his sister-in-law, in the name of honour at Ado village in the jurisdiction of Khall police station here on Saturday.

Sources said that Hidayatullah, a police official, killed his sister-in-law along two men identified as Asghar Khan and his nephew Shah Zeb, residents of Shinkat, on suspicion of their having illicit relation with his sister-in-law. Hidayat later surrendered to the Khall police, saying he could not tolerate any scar on his family’s honour.

Meanwhile, Badshah Umar Khan, brother of Asghar Khan, told the police that Hidayat had called both Asghar Khan and Shah Zeb to his house where he killed them along with a woman and pretended they had illicit relations.

The Khall police registered the case and have started investigations.

In another such case, a youth identified as son of Gul Shah allegedly killed his sister at Banrgi village in the jurisdiction of Talash police station here the other day. The police have registered the case.https://www.dawn.com/news/1359689/policeman-kills-three-for-honour

September 24, 2017   No Comments

Indian High Commission seeks prisoner’s release by Pakistan

Report in Dawn, September 21st, 2017
ISLAMABAD: The Indian High Commission has sought release of an Indian convict who has served his five-year sentence.

A petition filed by the commission was taken up by Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Aamer Farooq on Wednesday. However, the IHC bench withdrew the petition after objections raised by the registrar office that the power of attorney was not properly signed and relevant parties were not nominated as respondents.

Advocate Malik Shahna­waz Noon, the petitioner’s counsel, said he would re-file the petition after making necessary changes.

The Indian national, Rafiq Jutt, was apprehended by Pakistan Army in 2008. He was sentenced to five-year imprisonment in 2012 after a trial.

Advocate Noon maintained that the convict was Muslim and belonged to the Indian state of Gujarat. He visited Pakistan on a valid visa in 2008 when Pakistan Army apprehended him. Mr Jutt was tried under section 59 of the Pakistan Army Act.

During his imprisonment, the Indian national has been kept in different jails. Presently, he is confined in Karachi’s central jail.

He was awarded sentence on March 8, 2012 which expired on March 7 this year.

Advocate Noon said that since Mr Jutt had completed his sentence and now the authorities had no concern with him, he might be released.

The advocate said that as Mr Jutt was an Indian citizen, the matter directly came under the interior ministry which had the authority to arrange his release by ordering the Sindh home secretary.

Among other grounds, Mr Jutt had an ailing mother back home and there was no person to look after her as his wife was compelled to work at a farm as a labourer due to his imprisonment, the advocate said, adding that Mr Jutt has a nine-year-old son.https://www.dawn.com/news/1359073/indian-high-commission-seeks-prisoners-release-by-pakistan

September 21, 2017   No Comments

ISI to have more civilians at the top: by Malik Asad in Dawn, September 17th, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Pakis­tan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government has increased the civilian share in the senior hierarchy of the country’s premier intelligence agency — Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Sep­t 15, 2017 approved a proposal to increase the number of directors general (DGs) — the highest civilian post in the agency — from one to four.

The post of civilian DG in the ISI is a grade 21 position, equivalent to a serving major general of the armed forces.

Previously, there was only one civilian DG post in the intelligence agency.

PM Abbasi approved the summary sent to the PM Office by the Defence Ministry, proposing four civilian DGs in the ISI.

In addition, the prime minister has also enhanced the number of deputy directors general (DDGs) from eight to 15. The same summary recommended the creation of seven additional DDG posts for civilian officers in grade 20.

According to the office order issued by the PM Office on Sept 15, “The prime minister has seen and is pleased to approve the proposal at para 5 read with the views of Establishment Division… and of Finance Division.”

The office order titled: “Revised establishment — Defence Intelligence Service (DIS) Cadre Of Directorate General ISI” was signed by the Prime Minister’s Secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad and was circulated to Establishment Division Secretary Mian Asad Hayauddin, the finance ministry and the defence secretary.

When contacted, Parliamentary Sec­retary for the Cabinet and Establi­sh­ment Division Raja Javed Ikhlas termed the order “a routine matter”.

An official of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) did not comment on the development, but said that since the prime minister was the competent authority, as the ISI worked under the PM Secretariat, it was his prerogative to increase the sanctioned posts in the agency.

Formed in 1948 as an independent unit to strengthen the country’s intelligence network, ISI was formerly part of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), which handled intelligence-sharing between different branches of the military, as well as external intelligence gathering.

Its headquarters was initially located in Rawalpindi, but was later moved to Islamabad.

In 1950, ISI was officially given the task of safeguarding Pakistani interests and national security, inside and outside the country.

During the Soviet-Afghan war, ISI was strengthened and re-organised, with a handful of posts being created for civilians from the Defence Intelligence Services (DIS) cadre.

According to a former ISI official, it was in 2005 when retired Gen Pervez Musharraf approved the posting of a civilian as DG ISI in grade 21 for the first time. The process for the promotion of civilian ISI officers was slow, since there was only one DG slot, he said.

However, with the addition of seven grade 20 and three grade 21 posts, the official hoped that promotion of civilians, especially young DIS officers working in “hard areas”, would be accelerated.

In June 2013, some ISI officials had petitioned the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against the slow pace of their promotions. The petition stated that there were over 300 officers in grade 17 to 21 in the five cadres of the ISI, including the Surveillance (field intelligence) cadre, Vetting cadre, Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous cadre, Ministerial cadre and DIS.

The petition was dismissed by IHC Chief Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi in September the same year, saying that the aggrieved officials should approach the Federal Services Tribunal, which was the relevant forum for such petitions. https://www.dawn.com/news/1358185/isi-to-have-more-civilians-at-the-top

September 18, 2017   No Comments

Safe return: Kidnapped Hindu businessman back home after 118 days

By Mohammad Zafar in the Express Tribune, Sept 17, 2017
QUETTA: A leading businessman kidnapped four months back in Balochistan returned home on Saturday.

Vikki Kumar, who is the son of former JUI-F senator Haiman Das, had been abducted by gunmen on May 20 from his rice mill located in Dera Murad Jamali area of Nasirabad district.

“My son has reached home safely after remaining 118 days in the captivity of kidnappers,” Kumar’s father confirmed to The Express Tribune.

According to sources, the gunmen had taken Kumar to Kalat from Dera Murad Jamali. The police and other law-enforcement agencies conducted several raids, but couldn’t find any clue to the kidnapped businessman.

When the police received information about the presence of Kumar in Kalat, they sought help from tribal elders of Nasirabad and Kalat to negotiate with the kidnappers. And as a result of successful negotiations, the police secured the release of Kumar.

The tribal elders who helped the police in negotiating with the kidnappers included Sardar Changez Khan Sasoli, Mir Abdul Ghafoor Lehri, Hafizullah Jattak, Mama Wahid Bakhsh Bangulzai, Shoakat Bangulzai and Haji Rahmatullah Bangulzai.

Initially, the kidnappers had demanded a huge amount of money in ransom. It was immediately not known if the ransom was paid for Kumar’s release.

The family denies any ransom was paid. “Vikki Kumar has been released purely with the efforts of tribal elders,” said Haiman Das, the father.
https://tribune.com.pk/story/1508610/safe-return-kidnapped-hindu-businessman-back-home-118-days/

September 18, 2017   No Comments

250 Hindus convert to Islam in Thatta: report in The Nation, Sept 16, 2017, 6:02 pm

As many as 250 people from Hindu families on Saturday converted to Islam in Chohar Jamali area in Thatta’s District Sajjawal.

As per details, around 250 people of Hindu Sami family converted to Islam during a ceremony held in Chohar Jamali area in Thatta’s District Sajjawal.

The ceremony was organised by renowned trader Abdul Aziz Memon, which was attended by large number of political, social and religious personalities.

Those who converted to Islam include males and females. Gifts including Ajrak, clothes, grocery and financial help were also distributed among those who converted to Islam.

Construction of mosque and madarassa in the area were also announced on the occasion. http://nation.com.pk/national/16-Sep-2017/250-hindus-convert-to-islam-in-thatta

September 18, 2017   No Comments

Strange signals: edit in The News, Sept 16, 2017

After 14 years of working in the war-torn Kurram district, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders, has been asked by the government to pack up and leave. The move is part of a larger clampdown on the operations of local and international NGOs across the country. The decision to refuse access to MSF is inexplicable – especially given the timing. Terrorism inside the Kurram district has been on the rise, the resettlement of IDPs is still ongoing while the government is also planning to repatriate Afghan refugees, which means that the need for medical assistance near the Afghan border is high. Local medical facilities have not recovered from almost a decade and a half of war and terrorism. The assistance of international health charities with experience of working in conflict zones is essential. We are no longer in the days when the US raid on Osama bin Laden’s lair in Abbottabad in 2011 was reported to have been assisted by an international NGO. That affair has continued to have an impact on health workers, especially on polio workers who remain targets of terrorist attacks.

The recent actions against INGOs have sent rather confusing signals about where the counterterrorism priorities are being placed. It is increasingly hard to decipher how the government and security apparatus are interpreting their interests. Basic requirements and demands that all INGOs register, declare their work and be monitored might be fine; but a number of NGOs have had to face orders to shut shop. Many have been restricted from working in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and – surprisingly – southern Punjab. Given that no staff belonging to an international NGO has been charged with anything related to terrorism, there are few clues available to explain why access is being restricted so tightly. These decisions also raise questions internationally about Pakistan’s priorities – especially at a time when it is facing greater scrutiny over its handling of terrorists such as the Haqqani Network. There needs to be a formal explanation for the pack up orders for MSF; and it is likely that the government will be asked to explain the decision by international powers. Forcing out NGOs with such credible reputations is a bad strategy; the government would do well to revisit it.https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/230310-Strange-signals

September 16, 2017   No Comments

Christian man sentenced to death over blasphemous text on WhatsApp

Report in the Nation, September 15, 2017, 3:47 pm
A Christian man in Lahore has been sentenced to death for blasphemy after he sent a Muslim friend a poem on WhatsApp that insulted Islam, a lawyer said Friday.

The accused was charged in July last year after his friend, Yasir Bashir, complained to police that he received a poem on the messaging app that was derogatory toward the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and other holy figures.

The accused “was handed a death sentence by the court on Thursday on blasphemy charges,” defence lawyer Anjum Wakeel told AFP, alleging that his client was been framed by Bashir.

“My client will appeal the sentence in the high court as he has been framed by his friend who was annoyed over his [the accused’s] affair with a Muslim girl,” Wakeel said.

He said the trial was held inside a prison due to security reasons after local clerics had threatened the accused and his family.

Court officials confirmed the sentence.

Blasphemy has been a contentious issue in the country where people have been murdered over allegations of sacrilege. Earlier this year, a mob in Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan beat up a student, Mashal Khan, to death after accusing him of blasphemy over social media.

The incident caused an outrage across the country, with calls for the blasphemy law to be amended. The investigation into Mashal’s murder was concluded after a joint investigation team probing the case cleared him of all blasphemy charges.

Pakistan is cracking down against blasphemy related crimes on social media with former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar threatening to block all social media websites with ‘blasphemous content’ earlier this year.http://nation.com.pk/national/15-Sep-2017/christian-man-sentence-to-death-over-blasphemous-text-on-whatsapp

September 16, 2017   No Comments

Pak Police brutality: edit in Dawn, September 14th, 2017

TO gauge which sector of society has any power, it can be instructive to witness the attitude of the police towards them. On Tuesday, law-enforcement personnel meted out brutal and humiliating treatment to a large number of teachers staging a demonstration outside the Karachi Press Club for non-payment of their salaries since 2012. According to the protesters, 7,500 teachers are affected but the government has persistently turned a deaf ear to their pleas. The participants, including some women, who belonged to Karachi and several other districts of Sindh, were not taking the law into their own hands and damaging property or posing a threat to people. In fact, they were doing nothing more menacing than holding placards demanding that the government release the teachers’ long-standing dues and salaries. The police, however, in a wholly disproportionate and ham-fisted response, resorted to baton charge and water cannons to disperse them. The images that emerged from that encounter are disgraceful, showing teachers manhandled, dragged by their legs, with their clothes ripped.

Police in this country at various times have unleashed brute force on different segments of the population seeking their rights, even when the people have done so through means compatible with democracy. Their reaction in this instance as well violates the inherent right of the public to agitate for their rights peacefully. Law-enforcement personnel, however, have not even spared Lady Health Workers demanding overdue salaries; nor even blind people pressing for employment rights under the disability quota. In the present instance, regardless of whether there were irregularities committed in the teachers’ recruitment — and certainly the education department has been no slouch in violating the rules — the Sindh government must find a way to address the genuine concerns of the protesting teachers. They should not have to pay the price for the dereliction of duty by the authorities concerned. Meanwhile, such reprehensible behaviour on the part of the police merely reinforces the image of them as an insensitive force without empathy for the public.
https://www.dawn.com/news/1357542/police-brutality

September 14, 2017   No Comments

Kurram Agency: Global medical charity MSF told to pack up

By Iftikhar Firdous in The Express Tribune, Sept 14, 2017
PESHAWAR: Authorities asked Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, a global medical charity, on Wednesday to wind up its operations in Kurram Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), officials confirmed.

Country Representative of MSF Catherine Moody told The Express Tribune that they had been asked by authorities concerned to shut their operations in Kurram Agency.

“There has been no explanation … why we have been told to close our operations?” she said. “Our NOC was not extended,” she explained, adding that because of the suddenness of the decision, the organisation had still not devised a strategy for coping with the consequence of this decision.

“We are still figuring out what to do with our staff and also how to leave patients in our care.”

 

An official of the political administration, who did not want to be named, said that the decision was taken during a meeting held on September 12. He, however, declined to share details.

MSF has been working in Pakistan since 1986, assisting local doctors during natural disasters and providing healthcare to conflict victims.

Currently, MSF operates a 60-bed paediatric hospital in Quetta, while running a mother and child health centre in Kuchlak and carrying out humanitarian work for both Afghan refugees and locals near the Afghan border in Chaman as well as Jaffarabad and Naseerabad.

In Fata, MSF operates in Bajaur Agency’s Nawagai and Khar civil hospitals. The international organisation had started working in Kurram Agency in 2001, running two hospitals, one each in Sadda and Alizai tehsil headquarters.

According to MSF’s website, it carried out 3,000 consultations a month and provided outpatient care for children up to five-year-old. It also provided patient care for children under 12, besides treating cutaneous leishmaniasis and providing ante-natal care.

Moreover it provided obstetrics facilities and emergency referrals. It also supported the ministry of health in emergencies.

At the smaller Alizai hospital, it conducted as many as 120 paediatric outpatient consultations each week with a temporary medical point set up at the New Durrani camp in May to assist displaced people.

The letter asking MSF to shut down its operations was issued by the additional agency surgeon of the Lower and Central Kurram just referring to authorities concerned in Peshawar.

It gave a week-long deadline for complying with the decision.

Official response: “MSF is saddened by the decision of the authorities responsible for NGOs working in Kurram Agency. The closure brings to an end 14 years of MSF working with FATA Health Services in Kurram Agency,” stated MSF’s Country Representative Catherine Moody.

“We will continue to provide obstetric and neo-natal services to women in Fata through the MSF Women’s Hospital located in Peshawar.’

MSF has informed its team in Kurram Agency, elders of Sadda and Alizai and members of the local community about this decision. Necessary measures to close health services provided by MSF in Kurram Agency would be completed within a week.

MSF has been working in Kurram Agency since 2004. Since 2008, they have been present in the Tehsil Headquarters Hospitals in Sadda and Alizai.

MSF relies solely on financial contributions from individuals around the world and does not accept funding from any government, donor agency or military or politically-affiliated group for its activities in Pakistan.https://tribune.com.pk/story/1505252/doctors-without-borders-asked-to-shut-down-operations-in-fata-within-one-week/

September 14, 2017   No Comments

Stop sanctioning murder: edit in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2017.

It is highly unusual for honour crime victims to be electrocuted but that is probably what caused the recent deaths of a 15-year-old bride and 17-year-old groom in a neighbourhood of Karachi. The teenage couple, according to police investigations, were tied separately to a charpoy and given electric shocks by members of their own families — all because they dared to elope and contract a free-will marriage. Confirmation will come only after their bodies are exhumed for a postmortem examination on September 13th (Wednesday) under the supervision of a magistrate and a medico-legal officer. The punishment is believed to have been sanctioned by a jirga or a council of elders who described the couple’s elopement as an act that brought dishonour upon their families. The bodies of the two victims were secretly buried in a graveyard in Sherpao Colony. Not even an attempt at pretense was made to show the two had an accidental death.

The role of the police is perhaps one of the bright spots in the case. For once law enforcers seemed to have acted swiftly and fearlessly guided by their professional instincts, rather than short-term pecuniary gains. The fathers of the two victims as well as some other family members were rounded up and they promptly confessed to their crime and the jirga’s ruling. Not surprisingly the members of the 30-man jirga have gone into hiding.

Honour crimes are virtually unstoppable in rural settlements of the city and despite last year’s legislation that recommended a 25-year jail term for those who commit such murders the number of female and male victims continues to swell. More than 500 people are killed in the country over mistaken notions of honour every year.https://tribune.com.pk/story/1504582/stop-sanctioning-murder/

September 13, 2017   No Comments