Sunday, 21 December 2014

POK to get 5 seats for the Indian Parliament

POK to get 5 seats for the Indian Parliament
BJP MP introduces bill for Lok Sabha seats in Pakistan occupied Kashmir
Rahul Tripathi  New Delhi, November 26, 2014 | UPDATED 21:38 IST
 After UPA failed to create Lok Sabha seats in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), a BJP MP has introduced a private member bill before the Parliament proposing insertion of additional clause in the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2014 that will enable India to have additional five seats in Lok Sabha in PoK.

The bill mooted by BJP MP from Godda in Jharkhand, Nishikant Dubey has  been admitted before the Lok Sabha and is likely to be introduced for discussion during the ongoing winter session of the Parliament.

Speaking to INDIA TODAY, Dubey said, " Jammu and Kashmir government has reserved 24 seats for PoK which goes vacant as per the constitution of the State. As J&K is an integral part of India, the constitution of India shall also have provision where the areas of PoK is represented by MPs. These seats can remain vacant like the state assembly seats.  The lacunae in both the constitution has been going on since 1948 and it is time to rectify the same."

In his bill, Dubey has proposed to introduce Article 370 A giving powers to the people residing in PoK to elect their representative. Dubey's bill says, (i) " Five seats in the House of People shall remain vacant but such seats shall not be taken into account for reckoning the total membership of the house and (ii) the said area shall be excluded in delimiting the territorial constituencies under article 82."

In October 2013, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) during the tenure of Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has moved a similar proposal but it was nixed. Now a year later, the bill introduced by Dubey may find takers in the NDA government as officials argued that the composition of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has 24 seats reserved for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir but are vacant as the territory is in Pakistan's control. However, these seats are not taken into account to consider the total membership of the Assembly.

Home Ministry officials said that If Dubey's proposal is taken seriously, the government will have to bring an amendment in Article 81 of the Indian constitution so as to include a provision similar to the provision in the Jammu and Kashmir constitution for keeping seats vacant for the Lok Sabha in respect of the territory illegally occupied by Pakistan. It is however not clear as to how a reference to this provision was not included in the Indian constitution and how this mismatch has occurred in the two constitutions.

It  may be recalled that Parliament has passed a resolution asserting that PoK is an integral part of India and will remain so.  Said a senior official, "It is important that we claim our right on the territory forcibly occupied by Pakistan, even if the Lok Sabha seats like Assembly remain vacant."


ISI’s Strategic Depth Has Failed The Nation of Pakistan, Heela Najibullah

Sunday, 21 December 2014 12:27Written by Heela Najibullah
As an Afghan, the barbaric slaughter of school children in Peshawar was a reminder of the every day carnage of innocent Afghans by the same extremist groups who have continued killing their own Muslim brothers and sisters for decades now. As I was reading the news and following the unfolding of the events on social media, I was confronted with many reports and opinions that inspired me to share my thoughts with my Afghan fellows and the youth in Pakistan.
I grew up in violence and conflict in the 1980s Afghanistan, although the world condemned the government in power because of the support it had from the Soviet Union, the news of innocent lives lost would hardly reach the countries on the other side of the Iron Curtain. The Mujahideen were the holy warriors and the West lauded their actions of terror as acts of freedom fighters. Hillary Clinton acknowledged the fact that groups such as the Haqqani were financed by the US during the Cold War in Pakistan. Despite claiming responsibility for killing innocent Afghans, the Haqqanis and their likes are walking freely on Pakistani territory.
What disturbs me about the coverage of media on Peshawar's attack is that the extremist groups responsible for terror attacks are labeled on the basis of nationality. The continued distinction of the terror groups by the Pakistani authorities is the indication that their fear towards India still dictates their policy of strategic depth in Afghanistan. If the Pakistan government and ISI want to end the menace of terrorism in the region, they have no choice but to change their mindsets as well as their current narrative on terror groups such as the Taliban. There is no such thing as a good or bad Taliban, Afghan or Pakistani or young and old Taliban and none of these groups have leverage over each other. We all have fallen prey to the violent acts of terror.
Ambassador Husain Haqqani very accurately points out in his article today, "The savage attack in Peshawar demonstrates the futility of attacking one group of jihadis while leaving others in place." Therefore, ISI's strategic depth has failed. My father, the former Afghan President Najibullah, twenty years ago, in one of his speeches had explicitly said that the fire Pakistan had ignited in Afghanistan would eventually engulf the region and the world. In the short term, with the five years of Taliban rule, perhaps ISI thought of itself as a winner but in the long run not only ISI but all of us have lost. We have lost because our future generations have to live in fear and become victims of hatred and violence in Afghanistan, Pakistan or India.
It is important that the Pakistani leadership, in this historical and delicate moment, take decisions not on the basis of fear but for the future of the region. They have to stop hosting and sponsoring the Taliban and other terror groups. A school going child in Kabul, Paktika, Helmand, Kunar is no different to the school children in Peshawar, Quetta or Karachi. They have one aspiration, i.e. to learn and they should be given an equal chance to do so.
To the citizens and Pakistani youth, I would like to say that you are not alone, there are many Afghans such as myself who share your pain, fears and sorrow. I lost my 1st grade teacher who was eight months pregnant and her 12 years old son in a market bombing in 1982 when I was five years old. I lost a dear classmate in a cluster bomb because he thought it was a toy, he was only 11 years old in 1988. I would have nightmares, as a child that what happened to Shah Rukh would happen to me. I have lost family members whose deaths remain a mystery like the ones of assassinated Pakistani leaders. Even today, three decades later, in 2014 the Taliban have killed many young innocent children and teenagers in Paktika, Istiqlal School, and Helmand. Therefore, I can say that Afghans such as myself can only understand the pain of the families and friends who have lost their loved ones in Peshawar. If there is any nation that understands your sorrow, pain, anger and fear that would be Afghanistan because decades since the start of strategic depth, Afghanistan's new generations are still killed in vain by acts of terror.
In this moment of trauma and pain, I just hope that you take a moment to also look deeper and understand why this is happening to you. I hope that you realise that the failed policies of ISI and the Pakistani authorities have equally wounded us. I dream of the day that your recognition of a desperate need for a shift in the regional policies of your country can eventually lead to a change of your policy makers mindset. In the hope that it may extinguish the fire my father had spoken about so our next generations can live in peace. From experience, I know that your hearts will carry this heavy weight of loss for years to come but I know with time you will heal. May their souls rest in peace along all those who have been the victims of terror around the world.
Heela Najibullah is a peace scholar and an aid worker.
The views expressed in this Op-Ed are those of its author and not representative of TOLOnews.



Saturday, 20 December 2014

It wasn't the final atrocity, Pervez Hoodbhoy

It wasn’t the final atrocity, Pervez Hoodbhoy

THE gut-wrenching massacre in Peshawar’s Army Public School has left Pakistan aghast and sickened. All political leaders have called for unity against terrorism. But this is no watershed event that can bridge the deep divides within. In another few days this episode of 134 dead children will become one like any other.

All tragedies provoke emotional exhortations. But nothing changed after Lakki Marwat when 105 spectators of a volleyball match were killed by a suicide bomber in a pickup truck. Or, when 96 Hazaras in a snooker club died in a double suicide attack. The 127 dead in the All Saints Church bombing in Peshawar, or the 90 Ahmadis killed while in prayer, are now dry statistics. In 2012, men in military uniforms stopped four buses bound from Rawalpindi to Gilgit, demanding that all 117 persons alight and show their national identification cards. Those with typical Shia names, like Abbas and Jafri, were separated. Minutes later corpses lay on the ground.
If Pakistan had a collective conscience, just one single fact could have woken it up: the murder of nearly 60 polio workers — women and men who work to save children from a crippling disease — at the hands of the fanatics.
Hence the horrible inevitability: from time to time, Pakistan shall continue to witness more such catastrophes. No security measures can ever prevent attacks on soft targets. The only possible solution is to change mindsets. For this we must grapple with three hard facts.
First, let’s openly admit that the killers are not outsiders or infidels. Instead, they are fighting a war for the reason Boko Haram fights in Nigeria, IS in Iraq and Syria, Al Shabab in Kenya, etc. The men who slaughtered our children are fighting for a dream — to destroy Pakistan as a Muslim state and recreate it as an Islamic state. This is why they also attack airports and shoot at PIA planes. They see these as necessary steps towards their utopia.

Let’s openly admit that the killers are not outsiders or infidels.

No one should speculate about the identity of the killers. Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani released pictures of the eight ‘martyrs’, justifying the killing of minors with reference to Hadith (a horrific perversion, of course). Dizzied by religious passions, the men roamed the school searching for children hiding under desks and shouted “Allah-o-Akbar” before opening fire. Shot in both legs, Shahrukh Khan, 16, says he survived by playing dead. Another surviving student, Aamir Ali, says that two clean-shaven gunmen told students to recite the kalima before shooting them multiple times.
Second, Pakistan must scorn and punish those who either support terrorism publicly or lie to us about the identity of terrorists. Television anchors and political personalities have made their fortunes and careers by fabricating wild theories. For example, retired Gen Hamid Gul and his son Abdullah Gul have adamantly insisted multiple times on TV that suicide attackers were not circumcised and hence not Muslim. Though body parts are plentifully available for inspection these days, they have not retracted earlier claims.
Those on the state’s payroll that encourage violence against the state must be dismissed. Maulana Abdul Aziz of Islamabad’s Lal Masjid — a government mosque — led an insurrection in 2007 against the Pakistani state. He flatly refuses to condemn the Peshawar massacre. Other state employees have called upon all to not pray for army soldiers killed in action. At another level is Jamaatud Dawa’s supremo, Hafiz Saeed. He blames India for the Peshawar massacre and, ignoring ironclad evidence, misguides Pakistanis about the identity of the enemy.
Among political leaders, none is more blameworthy than Imran Khan, the icon of millions of immature minds. He has never named the Taliban as terrorists even when they claimed responsibility for various atrocities. That the TTP may be involved in the Peshawar massacre is the first exception, but this is contained only in a tweet. For a man who uses the strongest language against political opponents and has hogged TV channels for months, he has yet to condemn TTP before a national audience. Why the reticence?
It was even worse earlier. In 2009, as the Taliban took over Swat, on Hamid Mir’s Capital Talk he claimed that the Swat Taliban were fighting a war of liberation against the Americans. When I asked why they were fighting in Pakistan and killing our policemen and soldiers, he accused me of being an American agent and then, later, attempted to physically attack me. Readers can google this video.
Third, if Pakistan is to be at peace with itself then it must seek peace with its neighbours and begin disassembling the apparatus of jihad. The bitter truth is that you reap what you sow. Today, massive militant establishments hold the Pakistani state hostage. They run their own training centres, hospitals, and disaster relief programmes. When Sartaj Aziz, adviser to the prime minister on foreign affairs, said that Pakistan was not going to target militant groups which “did not pose a threat to the state”, he accidentally spilled the beans. In fact he was merely restating Pakistan’s well-known zero-sum paradigm — we live to hurt others, not to better ourselves.
While bewailing the murder of our children, let us acknowledge that Pakistan’s soil has been used time and again for inflicting grief and sorrow across the world. Today it is not just India and Afghanistan who accuse us, but also China and Iran.
By launching Zarb-i-Azb, Gen Raheel Sharif has broken with his timid predecessor, Gen Kayani. North Waziristan should never have become the epicentre of terrorism. He has done well to meet President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul and demand the extradition of TTP’s Mullah Fazlullah, now ensconced on the Afghan side. But what of Mullah Omar? The Pakistani Taliban and the Afghan Taliban are two sides of the same coin. I wonder if President Ghani asked General Sharif to help extradite Mullah Omar for facing justice before the Afghan people.
The author teaches physics in Lahore and Islamabad.
Published in Dawn December 20th , 2014


Curing the terrorism, do five things for faster recovery, Imran Khushaal Raja

Curing the terrorism, do five things for faster recovery

You are infected with coccidioidomycosis and you don't know what is it? How will you get rid of it? Can you give yourself a treatment, without knowing what are you suffering from? I think no. The first step in curing any disease is knowing and accepting it. Then, diagnosing and verifying, through the symptoms and the knowledge, acquired at the first place, then applying proper treatment, with all precautions and preventive measures, to cure, and eliminate the risk of future attack or infection.  

Same is true when it comes about curing the terrorism, like any other disease it is one, and definitely the most dangerous. So dangerous that other day it killed 141 at Peshwar in just one incident, and hundreds and thousands before that in many others. I believe it can be cure if we know it, understand it, admit that we are sick of it, and present ourselves to proper treatment. Following measures can help us in a faster recovery.

Redefine and relate the concept

Go out and ask the folks, people from different walks of life; ask them who attacked at Peshawar School? Who they really were? And majority of them will answer your question. They'll tell you "those weren't Muslims... because no Muslim can do that." Really? Is this the case? Can we standardized this? If yes, then, I think, we can also say, "Muslims are not corrupt, because corruption is prohibited in Islam." So by this stranded, making any law and doing any effort against corruption would be an implicit negation of this notion. And if we accept it, there is no need of any, I mean absolutely any law against corruption as it is a Muslim majority country and they can't be corrupt so no need... am I right? No, I am not right and neither they are. So here is a need to rethink and redefine the concepts related to terrorism. Here is a need to related and accept this phenomena. Accept and to be clear and bold like; "Yes, whoever did that, they could be Muslims could be non-Muslims, but they did wrong, and should be punished."

Reprogram the programmer

I don't know, if you have heard the story of two fast friends, a politician and a Peer Sahib, but I did. Peer Sahib got a lot of disciples, purchased land and constructed Mosques. Then, he appointed his Qari and Hafiz in every mosque which was (and is) his property. They served well, very well, and Peer Sahib's friend never lost an election. This and similar kind of stories are true about every mosque, these are like someone's private property. One or another group has its control on them and they have their own interpretation of religion, which is obviously different from the other group's. So the point is, as long as state doesn't take the control of mosque; device and authorize a policy and a person, to run and regulate the matters, biased, violent and extremist interpretations are inevitable. You can't simply minus the role of Molvi in our society, these are people, society need at everything, from birth to adultery, and from marriage to funeral, they are interpreters of the religion, they are programmers of the society. So need is not to mess up with them but alter the role, because reprogrammed programmers can serve the purpose of making this society less biased, non-violent and non-extremist; a place to live in peace.

Launch effective media campaigns

Two things are really connected, military operations and media campaigns. Military operations without making the public consensus can be counterproductive. But if they move step by step, building public opinion and getting all of them, and without discrimination of good or bad, I think this can work. Media houses can broadcast and print, anything that makes masses understand the direction of authorities, by changing their perceptions, and they should. As they did in the past, while introducing these as true heroes of Islam at first place. Also, a strict media monitoring is required, to keep a check on those who are implicitly or explicitly promoting the agenda of terrorist’s organizations, and there are many. Exact number can be checked but a rough estimate is of hundreds, including the (print) newspapers like Ghazwa and Zarb-E-Momin, which are distributed free, and many (electronic) newspapers and blogs. There are others, who aren't publishing propaganda newspapers but they are writing for big houses, and contaminating the public opinion, need to check them too.

Bring syllabus modification

We all know, I assume, what our syllabus teaches us. Those who went school before seventies read a different syllabus but after Zia’s take over, the situation changed dramatically. Later, on one hand America was spending million dollars on Afghan Schoolchildren syllabus and on other hand syllabus was being changed in Pakistan. We printed and published, horrendous pictures and worse text, a weapon of self-destruction for our own children, which taught violence and extremism, and ultimately prepare them to join “Afghan Jihad”, better known dollar Jihad. Now it is time to accept our mistake (blunder) and go to fix it. Syllabus in our government schools still need a lot of modifications, to de-radicalize and   moderate the minds of our children to make them tolerant toward other religions and respect difference.

Go for Madrasa reforms
I know, many people don’t like talk about madrasa reforms but I am not going to ask for typical one. A friend of mine just talked to me and told me about someone, who was on TV, and has proposed a different solution for madrassa reforms. According to my friend, he was a foreign qualified religious scholar who said, students of these madrassa’s can be awarded scholarships not by the government but by different capable families instead of paying Zakat and Sadqa, and they can also go in a private school. Although it looks difficult but if government take an initiative with civil societies’ help it can be done.

Writer is an Mphil student at Iqra University Islamabad, blogs at Kashmirica.org and works with Institute for Social and Economic Justice (ISEJ). He tweets @imrankhushaal 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

The AHRC calls upon the Government and the United Nations to ensure impartial inquiry into the massacre of the children and the associated security failures

The AHRC calls upon the Government and the United Nations to ensure impartial inquiry into the massacre of the children and the associated security failures

The Pakistan Government must take the military establishment to task, for failing to protect the 141 innocent children and staff killed by the Taliban
 
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) unequivocally condemns the attack by the Taliban on 16th December in a school in Peshawar, killing 132 children and nine staff members.  
 
The world is still reeling from the chilling and horrifying suicide attack by the Taliban on 16th December, on a school in Peshawar, capital city of  Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province killing 141, including mostly  children, the principal, teachers and other staff of the Army administered School. Immediately following the attack a Taliban spokesperson claimed that they killed the children in revenge for military action, Zarb-e-Azb by the government security forces. Pakistan has continuously suffered from terrorism, by the Taliban and other terror groups since 1980s when Pakistan commenced hiring militants to operate against the Soviet aggression in Afghanistan.
 
The Government of Pakistan has failed to ensure the security of people including the children from attacks by terrorist organizations. It had particularly failed to take effective actions against the failures of the military to protect its citizens from such attacks. Despite the many continuous attacks on citizens by terrorist groups the government has failed to bring any of the senior members of the military to task, for the failures of the military to provide effective protection to the citizens. In this particular attack the school where the attack took place is situated within a military compound and where there is a heavy military presence. Many questions have already been raised by observers as to whether how such an attack could be carried out without the knowledge and even the connivance of the military. Therefore, in confronting the present situation the primary duty of the Government and the Parliament is to call the top ranking military officers to answer for the failure to prevent this horrible massacre on the innocent children. 
 
The AHRC expresses its sincere and deep condolences to the parents and families of all persons killed in the barbaric, inhumane, and brutal act by the Taliban. The AHRC is shocked at the senseless and merciless slaughter of innocent school children, who were in their classrooms, some taking their examinations at the time of the attack. 
 
The children, most of them between the ages of 12 to 16 years were killed after several gunmen wearing security uniforms of the Frontier Corps of the Pakistan army stormed the Army administered Public School, situated in the cantonment area, despite the school being fully guarded by army soldiers. The terrorists entered the classrooms at will, shooting children - many of them who were hiding under their desks. Most of the students and teachers died due to the delay in the rescue operation as army contingents reached the school too late following the attack.
 
However, such a heinous crime as this – which in fact amounts to a crime against humanity – attacking innocent children in broad daylight killing them by chasing them in and out of their classrooms at a school - has been unprecedented in the history of the country. According to the Taliban spokesperson the attackers were instructed to kill students of higher grades, however no child had been spared shooting and injuring whomsoever they saw at first sight.  Not a single student in grades’ 9 and 10 were spared, the terrorists killed all the students in the two grades spearing only one child who did not attend school on that fatal day. 
 
According to the latest reports, the Taliban death squads have posed for pictures before the cold blooded slaughter of the 132 innocent children and nine staff members displaying a Taliban banner declaring ‘There is no God but Allah’.  Despite the world’s outrage, the Taliban have also issued a threat to carry out similar attacks.  
 
This cold blooded killing of 132 children and nine other members of staff including the Principal of the school and teachers has finally shaken the consciousness of the rulers of the country including the security establishment. All of whom to this date have remained oblivious to the Muslim extremist terrorism existing in the country. They are now coming out of their appeasement policies towards the militancy’s perhaps as a part of future strategy against Afghanistan since Allied forces left the country in 2015.  Most of the strategic planners and trainers of the Taliban militia and other Islamic militant groups are  retired army officers who during their service have also siphoned massive amounts of  public funds in establishing undemocratic and religious biases in the country. This is the main reason that Islamic militants have never stopped their attacks on  military, naval, Air force and ISI installations after the 9/11 incident in 2001 when Pakistan proclaimed to be a partner  in the war against terror.  In this backdrop, terrorists over the years, without any hindrance at all, have conducted many such suicide attacks in public places, shopping malls, schools, and at public gatherings killing more than 50,000 innocent citizens during the past 12 years.  
 
The security establishment is directly responsible for its negligence for the cold blooded killings as they were not able to protect the children within their own secure areas which clearly show the callous attitude towards providing security to the civilians under their care and in this instance offering the children as fodder to the Taliban.  
 
The government of Pakistan must call the Chief of the Armed Forces and request the reasons for the lapse in the security to protect the children and should be made accountable for this failure. The army chief should be made accountable to the civilian government on this gross negligence to protect the innocent lives. Criminal charges must be brought against the responsible military officers for security failures relating this massacre. 
 
One cannot imagine the carelessness with which such a heinous crime was committed and was allowed to take place; the senseless and merciless slaughter of innocent children in the presence of the entire security apparatus. 
 
Time is ripe, for the government and the entire security establishment to come out of the so called “national security” paradigm – which has made Pakistan a paradise for terrorism which has completely halted Pakistan from becoming a ‘nation state’. Because of this paradigm all of the national resources is spent only on the promotion of the ‘threat of war’ and militancy at grass root level.
 
Given the magnitude of this massacre, the United Nations should call and immediate inquiry into all aspects relating to this massacre include the failures of the Government of Pakistan to provide security to the people. Without a show of strong action by the Government as well as the United Nations it is not possible to prevent recurrence of similar events. 
 
It is quite natural that many parents living in Pakistan would fear to send their children to schools when the possibility of such attacks continues. It is the duty of the government to reassure the parents that security for their children to attend schools will be assured by the government. However, if no forceful action is taken against this massacre and the associated security failures by the military it would be difficult to convince the parents that the State will carry out its duties to provide security to their children to attend school.
 
# # #
 
About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Joint effort is required to eradicate terrorism, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Joint effort is required to eradicate terrorism
Dr Shabir Choudhry       17 December 2014

Kashmir National Party leader Dr Shabir Choudhry very strongly condemned inhuman massacre of innocent school children in Peshawar. No religion and no civilised person can justify this gruesome attack which was designed to kill hundreds of school children.

Dr Shabir Choudhry said, KNP leaders and members share pain and suffering of the families and the Pakistani nation; and strongly urge the government and political parties to set aside their differences and eradicate extremism and terrorism. We pray Almighty to grant highest status to all those who lost their lives and give strength to the families to overcome this trauma.

KNP leader said contemporary history fails to provide any example where so many innocent school children were systematically slaughtered to satisfy their inhuman and evil designs.
However, it is encouraging to note that the Pakistani nation as a whole; and particularly political and military leadership is on one page; and they have expressed their determination to fight terrorism with intention of eradicating it.

It is also heartening to note that the Prime Minister of India Mr Narendra Modi also condemned this brutal act and offered condolences, he said, “My heart goes out to everyone who lost their loved ones today. We share their pain & offer our deepest condolences.” To pay respect to the victims and to share pain with the suffering families and the Pakistani nation, the Indian Parliament and schools in India observed two minutes silence.

Dr Shabir Choudhry said this goodwill gesture should be welcomed by the Pakistani government and the Pakistani government; and both countries should work out strategies to counter threat of extremism and terrorism. Whether we like it or not, fact is both countries are victims of extremism and terrorism, and this threat is becoming more dangerous and serious, therefore, it is imperative that both countries forget bitterness of the past and cooperate with each other to eradicate terrorism.

Dr Shabir Choudhry, who is Head of Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, said I hope the Pakistani establishment will abandon its past policy of good Taliban and bad Taliban; and pursue Nawaz Sharif’s policy in which he says: "We have resolved to continue the war against terrorism till the last terrorist is eliminated". END

Dr Shabir Choudhry, Head of Diplomatic Committee Kashmir National Party.
Drshabirchoudhry@gmail.com

 




Monday, 15 December 2014

A missing State, by Naseer Memon

A missing State, by Naseer Memon
The News, Political Economy section,
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has once again pleaded the government of Pakistan to ratify “international convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance”, and shun the barbaric practice of enforced disappearances and killings of compatriots.
Recent torrent of abduction and killing of political workers has once again brought Pakistan in the limelight.

HRCP and other civil society organisations have criticised the government and the law enforcement agencies for perpetrating these crimes against citizens.

The convention that was adopted by the on December 20, 2006 and entered into force on December 23, 2010, explicitly says no one shall be subjected to enforced disappearance. It also trashes stereotype excuses by succinctly saying “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance.”

The convention also demands the states shall guarantee the relatives or the victims’ counsel have access to the responsible authorities. It also seeks a commitment to disclose the whereabouts of persons deprived of liberty, including, in the event of a transfer to another place.

So far, 94 states have signed the convention and 43 have ratified it. Pitiably, the United States and United Kingdom refused to sign the convention on flimsy grounds. India is the only country in SAARC region that has signed the aforementioned convention but not yet ratified. Pakistan is also among the countries that have not yet signed the convention to eschew a cardinal international commitment. Before that, the General Assembly of the United Nations also adopted declaration on the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance in its resolution 47/133 of December 18, 1992.

South Asian countries have a gruesome track record of trampling movements for political rights, often dubbing them as insurgencies. While some of the movements pronounce armed struggle as a strategy to achieve their goals, the peaceful ones are not spared either.

At times, atrocious means adopted by law enforcement agencies compel peaceful political movements to violent recourse. It happens in countries with fragile democracies, where the state apparatus adopts repressive than saner political options.

Dismemberment of Pakistan in 1973, series of uprisings in Balochistan, unremitting conflict in Kashmir, suppressed Tamil insurgency in Sri Lanka are some of the regional examples to mention.
Pakistan is among the countries that have not yet signed the convention to protect its citizens from enforced disappearances. However, the country is signatory to some other instruments that forbid such crimes to be committed by a state against its citizens.

A delegation of the United Nations working group on enforced or involuntary disappearances visited Pakistan in September 2012. During the visit, the working group received information on cases of enforced disappearances and studied the measures adopted by the state to prevent enforced disappearances. The figures communicated to the group ranged from less than a hundred to thousands.Pakistan’s own constitution guarantees the right to fair trial.

Article 10-A says, “in any criminal charge against him a person shall be entitled to a fair trial and due process.” Law enforcement agencies, however, violate such clauses of constitution on the pretext of protecting an incognito national interest. During the past 10 years, parts of the country have witnessed incessant disappearances and killings at the hands of both state and non-state actors.

The report of the group highlighted the plight of tormented families who were threatened; that if they did file a case, their loved ones will be harmed, or another member of their family would be abducted. Similarly, witnesses and lawyers supporting the victims were threatened with dire consequences.

While enforced disappearances and custodial killings are rampant, the state response in Pakistan has been inadequate. Only cosmetic measures have been taken to mollify the enraged human rights bodies.

In April 2008, former law minister, Farooq Naik, stated that the government was collecting details of disappeared persons and promised that all would be released. In April 2010, the Interior Ministry set up a committee to investigate the fate of the disappeared persons. In March 2011, the Supreme Court decided to institute a specific body to deal with cases of enforced disappearances.

In May 2012, the statute of the National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) and a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) was also adopted by the Parliament. Notifications of these committees are gathering dust in official shelves and no findings have been made public.

Unabated abductions and killings of political workers spread to Sindh too. Courts were made repeated requests to produce the missing persons. They at times accused state actors to be involved in such incidents. But they were responded to with dumping of mutilated bodies.

The law enforcement agencies always denied these charges. The overall futility of the law and justice structure is evident from the fact that in spite of thousands of disappearances and genocidal killings on ethnic and sectarian grounds, hardly any felons has been convicted.

The UN working group reported with alarm that impunity is dangerously corrosive to the rule of law in Pakistan. The report quoting some officials mentioned that criminals, terrorists or militants from armed groups enjoyed a great impunity because, even when investigations were initiated against them, they managed to get out of them, by using threats against the police, the judges or witnesses. There were hints that this might explain why some law enforcement or intelligence agents might have resorted to illegal practices such as enforced disappearances.

Apathy and indifference of successive governments is starkly evident. Responding a question on recent incidents of extrajudicial killings in Sindh, a federal minister callously remarked that it is a provincial matter whereas the chief minister of Sindh stood aloof by saying that nationalists are politicising dead bodies. This cavalier attitude of the government would only rub salt on the wounds of victims.

Article 13(1) of the “UN declaration on the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance” provides that whenever there are reasonable grounds to believe that an enforced disappearance has been committed, the State shall promptly refer the matter to a competent and independent State authority for investigation, even if there has been no formal complaint. No measure shall be taken to curtail or impede the investigation. Hence the State cannot be absolved of its responsibility to protect lives of citizens even if its law enforcement arms pretend their innocence.

The country ranked fourth on the human rights risk index ought to adopt serious strategies to repair its image. Immune to all kinds of ignominies, the government rather embarked on a retrogressive “Protection of Pakistan Act” that actually extends a license for extrajudicial killings and illegal detentions. Such scruffy laws are likely to be used as brinkmanship tool against movements for political rights particularly in Sindh and Balochistan, where cold blooded murders are frequently committed. These laws are certainly not intended to curb terrorism in the country where banned faith-based elements with dubious trajectory freely operate, sometimes under official patronage.

At the moment when the anti-terrorism law was being promulgated, the government was imploring terrorist outfits for talks. It sufficiently unmasks the real design behind such legislative masterpieces.

An anemic image of the country on the human rights front merits drastic overhaul. A most pertinent step would be to ratify and implement international convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance. Missing persons signify nothing but a missing state.