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42pc Pakistanis without basic sanitation facilities: report

Report in The News, Nov 23, 2017
LAHORE :Pakistan is now the seventh worst country in the world in terms of access to basic sanitation facilities, a new report by an NGO has revealed.
Currently, 42 percent of the total population in the country remains without access to at least basic sanitation.
A staggering 79 million in Pakistan still lack a decent toilet, while 37 percent people have no system for wastewater disposal, which leads to spread of diseases due to contamination of water and contact with human waste.
Calling immediate attention to the situation, the Public Health Engineering Department, supported by Saaf Sehatmand Pakistan Campaign, marked the World Toilet Day here in Lahore. “Despite the severity of the issue, sanitation remains a low priority area in the country. There is an immediate need to shift focus.
The Sustainable Development Goals, launched in 2015, include a target to ensure that everyone has access to a safely-managed household toilet by 2030. This makes sanitation central to eradicating extreme poverty”, said Punjab Public Health Engineering Department Secretary Muhammed Khurram Agah.
The SDGs target 6.2 calls for, by 2030, achieving “access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.”
According to the NGO’s report, Pakistan is the fifth best country in the world for reducing open defecation. Though Pakistan has made some progress towards achieving this SDG, a lot more still needs to be done as 21.8 million people in Pakistan still defecate in the open. Special attention also needs to be paid to the treatment and disposal of wastewater, which undermines progress in child health and survival by spreading killer diseases.
“Diseases spread by wastewater and lack of sanitation increase the financial burden on families. This further disadvantages the poorest of the poor making extreme poverty hard to overcome.
There is already a vast disparity in the country in terms of rural-urban access to basic sanitation facilities. If not addressed urgently, this will continue to keep many below the poverty line.
The government takes ownership of the issue and will continue to work towards addressing this”, said P&D Member Health Dr Shabana Haider. “Improving funding and allocation of resources is at the heart of solving the sanitation and wastewater problems in Pakistan.
It is encouraging to see the government’s willingness and promise in this regard but more needs to be done to ensure we are able to achieve the SDGs for sanitation and wastewater management.
Unless appropriate funding is diverted to these areas, long term, sustainable gains cannot be made”, Siddiq Khan, country director of the NGO. Lack of access to toilet and sanitation and unavailability of systems for wastewater disposal also have direct implications on the future and education of children.
“One in three schools in Pakistan is missing a toilet which contributes to dropouts, especially that of girls.
Untreated human waste and lack of sanitation facilities also cause diseases, which keeps children from attending school and disrupts their education. Sanitation and wastewater management are essential to safeguard the future of our children”, said Kitka Goyol, UNICEF country representative.
“Pakistan’s efforts and commitment to improve sanitation need to be lauded. However, apart from sanitation, wastewater disposal and treatment are also key to making progress towards the SDGs. For that to be achieved, we need systems that ensure that human waste is contained, transported, treated and disposed of in a safe and sustainable way, said Dr Shabana Haider.https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/247888-42pc-pakistanis-without-basic-sanitation-facilities-report

November 23, 2017   No Comments

Hate speech at Islamabad sit-in: op-ed by Kaleem Dean in Daily Times, Nov 20th 2017.

The religious extremists of Tehreek-e-Labbaik emerged dramatically as a political party after getting 7000 votes in the Lahore by-election of NA 120. And now they have bought the capital on a stand still. Apparently, the embryo of hate was fertilised during Mumtaz Qadri’s trial but matured after his execution in February 2016. Thenceforth, unlike other religious political parties, Tehreek-e-Labbaik was the result of anger and hate against the civilian government as well as the minorities. Mumtaz Qadri murdered the governor of the Punjab, Salman Taseer in 2011 for his support to blasphemy convict Asia Bibi.

The assassinated governor took a strong stance against blasphemy legislation deeming them ‘black laws’. Mumtaz Qadri’s brutal act of murdering the governor was lauded widely, even a large number of lawyers and retired judges offered their services to fight the legal battle to justify his callous act. Throughout his trial, he was considered the ‘hero of Islam’ and obviously after his execution, he became a strong cohesive force to bring thousands of fanatic Muslims together which later, twisted to a so-called political party.

The cruel history of the Pakistani politics witnessed the creation of several political parties on the lap of the establishment. These fanatics have a long history of acquiring supremacy over country’s affairs which started with Russian’s invasion of Afghanistan. The Pakistani regime in the late 70s and afterward dreamed to convert the country to a conservative Islamic country. After General Zia air accident, General Hamid Gul continued his legacy to transform Pakistani flag into a ‘green Islamic flag’.

In quest of his dreams in 1988, he paved a path for Nawaz Sharif government forming IJI. Nawaz Sharif himself pledged an allegiance to the tomb of Zai-ul-Haq for continuing his vision and during his second tenure Sharif wanted to be, ‘Ameer-ul-Momineen’ while he said, “We must go down on our knees and bow before Allah.”In the National Assembly, he proposed the Sharia Bill and said, “The nuclear tests changed the colour of the Chagai Mountains and the Shariat Bill will change the colour of society.”

In the last three decades, the narrative of these fanatics has been supported and amplified by Pakistani institutions. Unfortunately, chauvinist agenda of certain groups hijacked the democratic ideology of equality and ended up putting the whole society in the mess of extremism where minorities remained the soft target. The rasping history says that in the past, the country’s institutions doctored the formation of Taliban government in Afghanistan. Those religious groups have been and are used within our own geographical boundaries too.

These fanatic groups were once patronised by the state and various political leaders backed several extremist outfits to use them for political motives. Once again a popular narrative of the religious supremacy in the country is sold to masses by the Labbaik Party and the group certainly enjoys some support.

Although these religious political pressure groups or parties do not earn a wide range of political support, they are often able to drive policymakers to their enterprising controllers. The charter of demands from Tehreek-e-Labbaik is not socially oriented rather limited scope of theocratic propaganda

has been included in their demands. These protesters are agitating against supposedly changing the wording ‘I believe’ to ‘I solemnly swear’ in the oath statement regarding Khatam-e-Nabuwat which has already been sorted out by the government.

Because of the internal chaos within the ruling party, the government has decided to deal with these protesters passively without using force. But as these protesters have no progressive agenda they are adding more fuel to their religious narrative against minorities. One of the leaders of the extremist group also insulted the legendary humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi while addressing the sit-in.

With each passing day, the aggression of the protesters is increasing which is causing problems for the commuters. More importantly, the fanatics protesting in Islamabad are sending the message of hate against minorities which as usual is not being taken seriously by the authorities. Pakistani courts are being pressurised to execute Asia Bibi who is in prison for the last eight years on charges of blasphemy.

It is time to decide whether the country has to go towards a progressive nation or a theocratic state of fanatics. The execution of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was the last nail in the coffin of those secular and progressive forces who wanted to make Pakistan, a country for all irrespective of their colour, caste, creed, gender and religion. Intentionally, enlightened moderate forces are kept away from the the process of policy-making and forcefully those allies are brought to the governments that serve the limited agenda of the few.

Time and again purposive and pre-conceived amendments have been brought to the constitution of Pakistan delimiting certain sections of the society to a specific boundary whereas fanatic organisations have been allocated an ample space to transpire their goals.

In the recent Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan held in Geneva, the United States recommended that, “Repeal blasphemy laws and restrictions and end their use against Ahmadi Muslims and others and grant the visit request of the UN Special Reporter on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression”.

The meeting was attended by the Pakistani delegation headed by the Foreign Minister who later stated that the country would consider viable options to address the issues raised in the committee. However, the solution is not difficult and it lies in going back to where the real mess started with the passage of discriminatory laws against the Ahmadi community, blasphemy legislation, constitutional demarcations to restrict the freedom of expression and religion. https://dailytimes.com.pk/143285/hate-speech-islamabad-sit/

November 20, 2017   No Comments

Integrity of FBR top brass questioned

By Shahbaz Rana in The Express Tribune, Nov 17, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has taken notice of rampant ‘corruption’ and appointment of officers with ‘embarrassingly compromised reputations’ at key positions in the Federal Board of Revenue, initiating a process that may eventually cleanse the tainted organisation.

In a strongly-worded letter, the Prime Minister’s Office also directed FBR Chairman Tariq Pasha to submit a detailed report about the ‘integrity’ of all FBR members, officers heading field formations and strategic units of the FBR.

The prime minister has given November 28 as the deadline to the FBR chairman to submit a report about his all top officers, including those who faced inquiries in the past but still serving on lucrative posts.
Former FBR Chairman Tariq Bajwa had initiated a cleansing exercise but after his transfer in November 2015 things became worse.

The chairman is the final authority in the appointment of members of the FBR and heads of all field formations. After assuming office in July this year, Pasha has brought his own team at the headquarters and in the field formations.

The decision to take notice of unethical practices in the tax machinery and official patronage available to corrupt officers suggests that PM Abbasi is in the mood of fulfilling his promise to broaden the tax base –and the first step towards that is to cleanse the organisation of corrupt people.

After becoming the country’s chief executive, Abbasi had announced broadening the tax base as his first priority. Since then, he has held numerous meetings of the FBR, including the one with the Tax Reforms Implementation Committee.

“It has been brought to the knowledge of the PM that no action is being taken against a number of officers in whose cases formal inquiries on equally serious charges have been completed since long,” according to a letter written by Fawad Hasan Fawad, secretary to the PM.

“Fawad has taken a strong position against growing malpractices in the FBR and during a November 2 meeting suggested to set up a board to decide the fate of tainted officers,” said the sources privy to the meeting.

In the same meeting, Special Assistant to PM Dr Miftah Ismail had claimed that 99% audit cases in the FBR are settled through questionable means, they added.

The PM’s letter has particularly sought details about three grade-20 officers — Basharat Ahmad Qureshi, Sharif Ahmad Awan and Mrs Shahar Bano Walajahi, according to the official letter.

“The PM has been further informed that certain officers of the FBR with embarrassingly compromised reputations and general conduct are leading some of the most important establishments of the FBR,” according to the letter.

Neither FBR’s spokesman Dr Mohammad Iqbal nor the FBR chairman responded to the request to give comments on the PM Office’s letter.

Qureshi’s case was of classical nature that highlights protection available to corrupt officers. An inquiry had established that the officer gave illegal tax benefit to the Pak-Arab Fertiliser Limited and the Fatima Fertiliser Limited, according to the FBR report.

But the matter remains pending. In January 2015, he was posted as Commissioner RTO-III Karachi.

The FBR had proven that Sharif Awan ‘held assets beyond means’ but in February he was posted as Commissioner Appeals in RTO Karachi. The FBR had also proven the charge that Shahar Bano Walajahi gave undue favour of Rs429.8 million to a taxpayer by deleting a demand that she herself generated after going through the record.

The premier has asked for the details of all cases of officials, officer of BPS-16 and above belonging to the Pakistan Customs Services, Inland Revenue Services and other cadres of the FBR against whom formal disciplinary proceedings were initiated by the FBR from June 2013 onwards on the charges of corruption, issuance of bogus refunds, criminal connivance with tax evaders, misuse of authority and negligence resulting loss of revenue.

The prime minister also directed to share the findings of the enquiry and the final outcome in each case and the current postings of those officers.

A recent report of the World Bank claimed that Pakistan suffers a loss of Rs3.2 trillion annually due to weak administration and non-compliant taxpayers.

However, the most worrying aspect for the FBR is that the prime minister has also sought report about past performance and general reputation for integrity of all functional members of the FBR, officers heading field formations and officers who are heading strategic units of the FBR.

He has particularly asked about directorate general of the Post Clearance Audit, Customs, directorate general of Transit Trade, Directorate General of both the Intelligence and Investigation of Inland Revenue and Customs wings.

The PM Office’s letter also highlighted that there were cases where charges of ‘corruption and misconduct’ were proven. But either those officers were reinstated after dismissal from service or given only minor penalties.

“To make it worse, these officers have been assigned lucrative posts,” according to the letter.

The PM’s Office has sought details about Abdul Hamid Anjum who is in grade-19. The details have also been sought about three grade-18 officers — Sajid Hussain Arain, Abdul Hamid Abro and Jawahar Ali Shah, and Anser Majeed who is an audit officer.

November 17, 2017   No Comments

film censorship : edits Nov 16, 2017

Freedoms constrained: edit in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2017.
Freedom in Pakistan, especially if considering the internet and its multiplying roles in daily life, is something of an illusion. Governments worldwide fear the ‘net’ and the anarchic freedoms it represents, freedoms of speech and expression that governments find inconvenient and seek to constrain, often with considerable success as the citizens of China would find were they to get the chance to use an internet free of government filters. Pakistan has a tendentious relationship at government level with the ‘net’ and has at various times over the years blocked access to all or part or it for varying lengths of time.

For the sixth year in succession, Pakistan has been found to be ‘not free’ by Freedom House in its report for 2017 that was researched by the Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), an NGO that is a thorn in the side of the administration and rightly lauded outside the country for its efforts. Several failures on the ‘freedom’ front were highlighted — the closedown of mobile internet services in Fata for more than a year, the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 which has widened the powers of censorship and surveillance at the same time as providing inadequate oversight, the detention of five bloggers that irritated the government and the pernicious growth of arrests connected to alleged blasphemies — all well documented and all reported in the public domain.

The status of internet freedom has declined over the last year according to the report, with minorities being targeted and extremist groups being allowed to proselytise despite being in many cases banned. There are instances where members of minority groups are sentenced to death online and they are not difficult to find for those of an inquiring mind. The technical capacity to take down hate speech exists but is not deployed as frequently as it should be and extreme religious views are tolerated. The overall ranking for Pakistan stands at 71 — with 100 being the worst by way of state interference or constraint in terms of the ‘net’. The DRF is to be commended for its tenacity and diligence, long may it be a thorn in the side of successive governments.https://tribune.com.pk/story/1559376/6-freedoms-constrained

Film censorship: edit in Dawn, November 16th, 2017

THERE is no shortage of text in Pakistan’s rulebooks that can arbitrarily be used to try and control information, even hijack narrative. From vague clauses about the ‘national interest’ to directives about how ‘institutions’ can be discussed, these are often brought into play to mask what are attempts at outright censorship.It is especially cultural narrative that finds itself in the cross hairs of a myopic bureaucracy with an unnecessarily thin skin.The latest example of this is the Shoaib Mansoor film Verna, which on Tuesday was banned by the Central Board of Film Censors in Islamabad.

While such a decision is not considered binding on all the provinces, given that the subject has been devolved, and Punjab and Sindh have their own, independently functioning censor boards, the fact is that such pressure from the centre can — and does — have an effect.From various quarters, the vow came that the film would be allowed to play.While a full board meeting of the CBFC last night apparently decided to revoke the ban, the movie can only be screened with cuts, another name for censorship.In any movie, if certain scenes are not suitable for audiences of a given age, screening certificates carry an age-advisory clause.However, the greater question here is, what can there be in narrative fiction, created and produced for mass distribution in a country such as Pakistan (the cultural likes and dislikes of which are well known), that lead to efforts to censor and restrict; fiction by definition lies in the realm of the imagination.Those in positions of administrative power in Pakistan like to delude themselves that it is their responsibility to decide what citizens may or may not consider suitable, and take decisions accordingly.In truth, the people have the right to vote with their feet; it ought to be up to them to decide.https://www.dawn.com/news/1370788/film-censorship

Verna Ban: edit in The Nation, November 16, 2017
Mahira Khan starrer Verna by Shoaib Mansoor, after being approved by Sindh and Punjab censor boards has been banned by the Islamabad Censor Board. The film was due to be released on November 17 but is now pending a full body review to be able to be released in cinemas across Pakistan. Islamabad Censor Board has listed a couple of reasons why the body deems it inappropriate for audiences in Pakistan. The reasons for this ban are irrational to say the least and antithetic to the purpose of art at worst. The first is that it deals very boldly with the topic of rape in the country. The second reason is that the accused in the film, or rather the rapist, is the son of the Prime Minister.

The reason for both decisions by the filmmakers is intended to display the power dynamics at play as well, which make it difficult for victims of get justice.Both the reasons seem very petty considering that the issue of rape is very rampant in Pakistan. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), an incident of rape occurs every two hours and an innocent victim is gang-raped every four to eight days. It must be addressed along with the power dynamics which prevent justice.The drama Udaari, discussing child abuse, was also object to in the same manner. Same was the case with the documentary about Lal Masjid, called Among the Believers. We always tend to shy away from the camera portraying the evils in the society.

These social issues are certainly taboo and controversial, which is why discussion on these subjects is absent in the society. However, that does not mean that bold issues should not be dealt with because of lack of discourse. Art has always been the medium which helps stretch boundaries of individuals. If you look at Zia’s dictatorial regime, art was the medium used to convey sentiments of resistance – art cannot be snubbed because it adds to the progress of the society.http://nation.com.pk/16-Nov-2017/verna-ban

November 16, 2017   No Comments

Karachi police stations being run from pushcarts’ money, says SC

by Jamal Khurshid in the news, Nov 6, 2017
KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation to remove encroachments from public parks, observing that police stations were being run from collection money received from pushcarts and encroachments.

Hearing the petition of Shakardin against removal of his cabin in the Lea market area, the court observed that many areas of the city, including Saddar, were full of encroachments at roads and footpaths with active connivance of the KMC staff and police and no authority bothered to remove these encroachments.

The court observed that SHOs of police stations allow encroachments in their areas and received their share from such encroachments on footpaths and public parks.

The court observed that KMC had leased out footpaths for installation of generators and rented out public parks for private functions. The court inquired from the KMC law officer as whether rent received from cabins was deposited in national exchequer or pockets of KMC officers.

The KMC law officer said that KMC received rent from vendors for installation of cabins in respective areas. The SC’s two-member bench, headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed, directed the KMC to remove encroachments from public parks and dismissed the application of the applicant who sought alternative space for installing his cabin in the Lea market area.http://thenews.com.pk/print/244637-Karachi-police-stations-being-run-from-pushcarts-money-says-SC

November 16, 2017   No Comments

Retired SP held for ‘running gambling den’: Report

Report in Dawn, Nov 16th, 2017
LAHORE: The Gowalmandi police arrested a retired superintendent of police (SP) and his accomplice for allegedly running a gambling den in the area.

A police official claimed retired SP Mian Tahir was running a gambling den at his residence in Gowalmandi.

On the information of an informer, a police team was constituted which raided the house late on Tuesday and arrested Tahir and his accomplice Akbar, and sent them behind bars after lodging a case against them.

The police official said the retired SP had secured a post-arrest bail from a local court.https://www.dawn.com/news/1370868/retired-sp-held-for-running-gambling-den

November 16, 2017   No Comments

Ban on automatic weapons: edit in Daily Times, Nov 15, 2017

Gun markets in Pakistan’s tribal areas had been flooded with Kalashnikovs with the onset of the Afghan jihad in the 1980s. In a matter of a few years, other automatic military grade weapons like M-16s and MP5s also became easily available at these markets.

In the absence of effective gun control regulations, the following years saw rapid spread of these weapons across the country — from militant wings of political parties to criminal gangs, sectarian outfits and, more recently, Islamist militias have all benefited from his deregulated market of arms and ammunition.

It wasn’t until the 2014 terrorist attack at the Army Public School (APS) of Peshawar that the political leadership started noticing the need for stricter gun control measures.

When Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi took office earlier this year, he vowed to take action against ‘private militias’, stating that ‘there is not a single country in the world that allows the licensing of automatic rifles to citizens’.

Finally, a directive was issued by the Interior Ministry last week announcing a ban on possession of automatic firearms by individual citizens. The owners of automatic firearms have been asked to get their weapons exchanged for semi-automatic varieties or receive a compensation of Rs 50,000. Gun owners have been given two months to get their firearms exchanged. The ban will be enforced at the end of this two-month period and carrying an automatic weapon will become a crime.

Little information has yet been shared with the public on the mechanism through which the ban will be enforced. The ministry must make good use of the two-month period to prepare rules and regulations that can ensure effective implementation.

However, the authorities must also recognise that imposing a ban will not be sufficient to control the proliferation of automatic firearms. Since automatic weapons have found their way into the country through markets that are beyond the purview of law enforcers, it is likely that licenced weapons are only a fraction of the actually existing arms and ammunitions in the country. Thus, the interior ministry needs to also evolve a plan to crack down on those carrying unlicenced weapons. And this effort needs to be integrated into the ongoing efforts against militants and militias. https://dailytimes.com.pk/139881/ban-automatic-weapons/

November 15, 2017   No Comments

‘Pakistan to face major water shortage in next eight years’

report in The News, Nov 15, 2017
Karachi: Without devising a national water policy, it would be quite baseless to envision Pakistan among top 10 largest economies of the world by 2047, the chairperson of the Hisaar Foundation said on Tuesday.

Addressing a news conference regarding the third international water conference to be held next week, Zohair Ashir said the country would face a major water shortage in the next eight years.

Ashir pointed out that compared to India, which has a water carryover capacity of 200 days, Pakistan’s storage would last only 30 days. He said the imbalance found in water consumption, with 97 per cent used by the agricultural sector and only three per cent remaining for domestic use, was a big question mark over our farming practices.

“Not only this, it’s alarming that 16 million people don’t have access to safe water, and approximately 41,000 children lose their lives owing to similar reasons.” Ashir felt that the state needed to realise the gravity of the situation. He said it was saddening that the water crisis was not a priority.

“Countries like India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal have a national water policy, whereas Pakistan is still waiting to formulate one. However, we have come up with a policy of our own and launched it in Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with the hope that it would be taken up by the respective authorities.”

Answering a question regarding India’s position on the water dispute, he felt that Pakistan needed to address the problem from a human rights perspective instead of a security one. Turning to the issue of water management in Karachi, he said it was true that 33 per cent of the water was wasted in the city, adding that even if 20 per cent of it could be salvaged, many people would have access to the commodity.

He also stressed that the Karachi Water & Sewerage Board (KWSB) needed to be strengthened for better water management, saying that handing over those duties to the Rangers was not a viable solution.

“The budget allocated for the KWSB for water management needs to be revised so that the organisation may improve. The last treatment plant installed in the city is an old one, and now there is an urgent need to install newer ones.”

The two-day conference on November 21 and 22 would not only discuss these issues but the participating speakers who specialise in these matters would also provide solutions. The Hisaar Foundation aims to achieve solutions to water-based problems in the country and is a citizens’ movement.http://thenews.com.pk/print/244292-Pakistan-to-face-major-water-shortage-in-next-eight-years

November 15, 2017   No Comments

‘Water scarcity poses existential threat to Pakistan’: Report in Dawn, November 15th, 2017

KARACHI: Pakistan ne­e­ds a minimum storage capacity of 40 per cent of the estimated 115 million acre-feet of water available in the Indus River system throughout the year. But the country’s storage capacity is only seven per cent and is decreasing due to sediment build-up in reservoirs.

Today, Pakistan’s stored water supply is barely adequate to meet its needs; the country has only 30 days of reserves. By contrast, “carryover capacity” in other countries ranges from 200 days in India to 1,000 days in Egypt.

These facts were shared at a press conference held on Tuesday by Hisaar Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, at the press club. The briefing was organised in order to announce details of the upcoming two-day conference scheduled to be held in Karachi on 21st.

Eminent international and national experts are expected to attend the event titled ‘The Future of Water’, focusing on four major themes — rights and entitlements, science and technology, climate change and water economy.

“The growing water scarcity poses an existential threat to Pakistan. Without water we cannot grow crops, build our industry and most importantly look after the health and well being of our people,” Aman-ul-Ha­que, the head of Engro Foundation, said.

The private sector along with civil society needed to work together with the government on a workable framework and come up with solutions to ensure a sustainable future, he added.

Zohair Ashir, the chairman of Hisaar Foundation, explained why it was important to hold the dialogue with representation from all major stakeholders — government, academia, private and business sector, media, donors, NGOs and citizens of Pakistan. www.dawn.com/news/1370500/water-scarcity-poses-existential-threat-to-pakistan

November 15, 2017   No Comments

Girl Assault case- News/Views- Nov 14, 2017

Girl assault case: Main accused in DI Khan incident still at large
report in The News, Nov 14, 2017
DERA ISMAEL KHAN: The prime suspect in the case of parading a teenager girl naked through the streets of a village in the district, Sajawal, could not be arrested by the police even after passage of 16 days.

The 16-year-old victim once again recorded her statement before a judicial magistrate. She alleged that the investigation officer filed a wrong report earlier in which he did not intentionally mention that her clothes were tore off and she was forced to walk naked through the streets of her village.

The Station House Officer (SHO) was also summoned after public pressure started mounting. Section 354-A had and the accused could even get death penalty if proven guilty. The victim’s brother stated that his family was being pressurised not to pursue the case.

On the other hand, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Member National Assembly (MNA) Dawar Khan Kundi said: “I stand firm on my stance that Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Revenue Minister Ali Amin Gandapur is backing the culprits”.

Meanwhile, KP Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Ali Amin Gandapur visited the affected family on Monday and offered to become guardian of the victim girl. He met the assault survivor, her mother, and residents of the area.

He promised to arrange the marriage of the teenager, but firmly maintained his stance that he had not, in any way, supported the accused men.

Meanwhile, the case was handed over to a five-member investigation team. Eight of the nine suspects, against whom a case was registered, are in police custody. Four of the suspects have also confessed to the crime.

Speaking to Geo News over the matter, KP IG Salahuddin Mehsud said the investigation is in its final stages and will be completed soon. The IG said there was no external pressure on the police. “The police department is unbiased and conducting investigation with freedom.” The culprits will be taken to task soon. “I am personally overseeing the case.”

Ministry of Human Right Secretary Ghulam Abbas, who also hails from DI Khan, visited the survivor and her family in their house in Girah Mut locality. The incident occurred on October 27, when the girl was returning home after fetching water when men surrounded her, stripped her and made her to walk in the locality for an hour.

The girl’s screams for help fell on deaf ears as no one came to her rescue. The witnesses’ claimed that nobody came to help her because they were scared. The incident’s survivor was ‘punished’ for her brother’s behaviour. Around three-years-ago, her brother, identified as Sajjad, got involved in a relationship with a girl from the village. A panchayat (village council) gathered and had fined Sajjad’s family Rs0.25 million to resolve the matter. The tehsil nazim was also part of the decision-making process.

Plight of the powerless: edit in The News, Nov 14, 2017
The incident that took place in Dera Ismail Khan two weeks ago in which a young girl was paraded naked through the streets of the town on the orders of a local jirga reminds us that we continue to live in highly uncivilised times. The act is a crime specifically defined under the law as one that must be penalised in the strongest possible manner. At the time of the heinous incident, the police had claimed to have arrested eight of the nine men involved and had promised that they would be punished in accordance with the law. There was reason to doubt this would happen even back then. According to reports, the girl’s ‘crime’ was that her brother was romantically involved with a woman from the perpetrator’s family and a panchayat had even ruled against him earlier.

We all know that such crimes of sexual humiliation against women – often legal minors – are often carried out brazenly by the powerful: those who have political connections or are among the most influential in their area. The police are always reluctant to act against them and even media pressure is not sufficient to whip them into action. In a rather serious development, a PTI MNA, Dawar Khan Kundi, wrote a letter to party chief Imran Khan last week accusing Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Revenue Minister Ali Amin Gandapur of facilitating and now protecting the men. Unfortunately, the party leadership – which has always talked a good game about bringing a new, better form of governance – is yet to respond to the letter.

The girl’s plight doesn’t end there. When she recorded her statement in front of a judicial magistrate last Saturday, she revealed that the police had threatened her when she tried to register a case. This too is sadly routine in cases such as this. From those who carried out the sexual assault to those who are alleged to have abetted it to the law enforcement who should be investigating it, everyone is either upholding deformed notions of ‘honour’ or is too scared of taking on entrenched power to do anything about it. Sexual humiliation is routinely used to assert power over the most vulnerable among us and is then justified by asserting tradition. In this particular case, there have also been allegations by Kundi that Gandapur has links with members of banned outfits. Kundi has also said that this is why – apparently – Imran is scared to take Gandapur on. Of course, it goes without saying that these charges need to be investigated and no conclusions drawn before that is done; Gandapur at his end has strongly denied them. As always, those suffering the brunt of all this are those who do not have the power to fight back. http://thenews.com.pk/print/244196-Plight-of-the-powerless

November 14, 2017   No Comments