Monday, 25 July 2016

Dimensions of poverty in Pakistan, by Naseer Memon

Dimensions of poverty in Pakistan, by Naseer Memon
(The News, 24thJuly 2016)

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) have released a report “Multidimensional Poverty in Pakistan” which depicts a grim picture of social well-being in the country.

The concept of poverty has evolved over time. As knowledge about the complexity of human societies is growing, poverty has found new meanings and coping strategies. Starting from the more banal concepts of nature’s curse, inadequate calorie intake and lack of income, the concept has evolved to a lack of choices in various spheres of life. Since poverty has been recognised as a societal and political issue, it has found a central place in the public policy discourse.

Chronic resource exploitation, discriminatory political treatment, failure of governance, skewed development priorities, inequalities, unrelenting conflicts, frequent natural and human-induced disasters, protracted denial and violation of human rights and elite-controlled public policy have been recognised as more complex causative factors behind the existence of poverty.

The first Human Development Report (HDR) released in 1990 introduced the Human Development Index (HDI). Hence, human poverty was analysed through a more comprehensive framework of human development which is not confined to income and calories intake only.

Research has proven that an uptick in the average per capita income does not reflect the true picture of the state of human development in a society. Average income is rather a devious interpretation of social well-being which masquerades pockets of human poverty. Pakistan itself is a case study in this regard. Introductory chapter of the report provides an insight by juxtaposing performance on some of the vital indicators of human development with increase in the income levels.

“Between 1990 and 2013, Pakistan’s GDP per capita (in constant 2005 US Dollars) increased from USD 542 to 793, with growth rates averaging around 4 per cent per year. Until 2003, Pakistan was ahead of both India and Bangladesh in terms of its GDP per capita. Moreover, income-based poverty fell sharply in the country, with the percentage of the population living below the national poverty line decreasing from 64.3 per cent in 2001/2002 to 29.5 per cent in 2013/2014. However, all these financial gains could not improve vital social indicators.

According to World Bank’s World Development Indicators, despite rapid improvements in immunisation, Pakistan still lags behind coverage rates in South Asia. Compared to Bangladesh, Pakistan started out much better in terms of life expectancy (60 years in 1990) and was second only to Sri Lanka in this respect. Yet, by 2014 life expectancy in Pakistan had merely increased by 2 years. By contrast, life expectancy in Bangladesh rose from 58 to 72 years in the same period.

Similarly, Pakistan’s infant mortality rate (IMR) was slightly above that of Bangladesh in 1990, at 106 deaths per 1,000 (as opposed to 100 in Bangladesh). Unfortunately, by 2015 Pakistan was still registering the deaths of 66 infants in their first year, as opposed to 31 in Bangladesh. In fact, Pakistan along with Afghanistan currently has the highest IMR rates of any country in South Asia, all of which register fewer than 50 infant deaths per 1,000. Comparable patterns hold true for maternal mortality, as Pakistan began ahead of all other South Asian nations — with the exception of Sri Lanka — but now it has higher rates than most of the other countries in the region.”

Discrepancy between the economic growth and improvement in human development indicators is also corroborated by other similar reports. Human Development Report 2015 revealed the ignominious state of human development in the country. Pakistan stands second lowest on the life expectancy index with 66.2 years compared to 71.6 years in Bangladesh and 69.6 years in Nepal. Pakistan’s infant mortality rate of 69 per 1000 live births is more than twice higher compared to 32.2 in Nepal, 29.7 in Bhutan and 33.2 in Bangladesh. African countries Congo and Cameroon have lower infant mortality rate of 35.6 and 60.8 respectively.

Forty five per cent of Pakistan’s children under five years of age are afflicted by malnutrition. The proportion is higher than Bangladesh (41.1 per cent), Nepal (40.5 per cent), Congo (25 per cent) and Nigeria (36.4 per cent). This coincides with higher child mortality rates in the same age group. Pakistan’s child mortality rate of 85.5 per cent is more than twice than that of Nepal (39.7 per cent), Bangladesh (41.1 per cent) and Bhutan (32.6 per cent).

The situation in education sector is equally deplorable. Pakistan’s literacy rate 54.7 per cent is lower than that of Bangladesh (58.8 per cent), India (62.8 per cent) and Nepal (57.4 per cent). Similarly, gross enrolment ratio of Pakistan is only 92 per cent, which is the lowest in the region compared to 113 per cent in India, 114 per cent in Bangladesh, 133 per cent in Nepal and 106 per cent in Afghanistan. Primary school dropout ratio of Pakistan is 37.8 per cent which is higher than 33.8 per cent in Bangladesh and 20.7 per cent in Nigeria.

The multidimensional poverty report of UNDP has also exposed that rural areas are enduring higher levels of poverty compared to urban areas. The fact is glaringly evident in all provinces. The table explains the incidence of rural and urban multidimensional poverty in every province/region.

This disproportionately higher prevalence of poverty in rural areas is a consequence of decades-long misdirected development priorities. Human settlements do not have impervious borders. Urban areas cannot remain insulated of cascading effect of rural poverty. Privation of this staggering proportion in rural areas entails serious socio-political ramifications for urban areas.

The prevalent malaise in urban areas is a repercussion of rural exodus. Toxic effects of socio-economic inequalities have already plagued urban centres. A small number of relatively developed cities are exposed to an unsustainable influx of rural communities. Deficit of civic amenities such as education, health and jobs have propelled the exodus of rural population to urban areas in droves. Karachi is a perfect example of this dilemma.

In 1941, the total population of Karachi was 0.7 million which swelled to 9.8 million in 1998. A quarter of this population migrated to the city from other areas. Almost two decades on, no census has been conducted yet a conservative estimate suggests that Karachi’s population has dwarfed the 16 million mark. The city is bursting at the seams. Civic services structure has nearly collapsed. From water supply to garbage removal, nearly all services are managed by informal entities. Crime, lawlessness and mafias characterise the commercial spinal cord of the country. Hyderabad, Sukkur and Larkana are some other examples in Sindh.

With rural poverty astoundingly surpassing 75 per cent households, a large rural population has moved to these urban and semi-urban centres. Once known for their neat and inhabitable neighbourhoods, these towns have turned into squalid areas. Haphazard population growth, bad governance, inefficiency and corruption have trounced the system of basic services and rendered these towns insalubrious.

Since the government does not improve rural infrastructure and basic services, people tend to migrate to the nearest urban settlement. Health, education and employment are the key drivers of this outflow of population from rural areas. Protracted absence of local government system has further exacerbated the situation.

While urban areas depict a relatively rosy picture, urban inequalities are often obscured by the averages of income. An urban society is far more stratified with heavily skewed control of assets and wealth by a few. After migration, rural middle class is gradually mutated into urban poor. An illusive land of opportunities soon turns out to be a quagmire as most of the immigrants who contrive to find a toehold in cities experience social and economic trauma within a short span of time. As a corollary, today a large proportion of urban population comprises daily wage earners. The next larger segment is the salaried class that keeps jostling for scarce opportunities and faces frequent haemorrhage of their meagre savings due to unanticipated shocks such as morbidity, robberies and extortion.

Multidimensional poverty needs an entirely different political approach. It cannot be addressed through frivolous handouts and charity packages branded as social security and poverty alleviation. Unless governments adopt robust strategies and make sustained investments to improve basic service delivery especially in rural areas through an empowered local government system, bruises inflicted by multidimensional poverty cannot be erased.

Earmarking whopping sums for charity programmes ought to be veered towards economic activity to generate more jobs and livelihood opportunities for impoverished people. Exploitative and unbridled informal and private sectors are thriving on a spiralling poverty stoked by a chronic governance failure.


Afghan President slams Pakistan for harbouring Terrorists, praises India 25 July 2016

Afghan President slams Pakistan for harbouring Terrorists, praises India 25 July 2016

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has hit out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to terrorists and said having state-to-state ties with the neighbouring country a "bigger challenge" for his government than combating terror groups such as al-Qaeda and Taliban.

The Afghan President also said that Kabul was proud of its friendship with India as New Delhi shares Afghanistan's democratic aspirations.
In contrast, Ghani said that Pakistan provides sanctuaries to terrorists and trains them, making relations with Pakistan, the bigger challenge for his country.

"We cannot understand when Pakistan says it will not allow a group of terrorists to amend its constitution, army act and prepares a National Action Plan against them.

"Simultaneously, Pakistan tolerates another group which attempts to undermine the government and bring horror, death and destruction to Afghanistan," Ghani told Geo News.

The 64-year-old Afghan president said he can provide addresses of Taliban leaders in the Pakistani city of Quetta, Dawn quoted the Afghan president as saying Saturday, a day Kabul witnessed the deadliest terror attack in 15 years which killed 80 people and left hundreds injured.
Ghani claimed that Afghan forces have bombed the chief of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Mullah Fazlullah, 11 times along with attacks on his close aides.

"Can you show me a single operation against the Haqqani network, against Mullah Omar, against Mullah Mansoor, Mansoor traveled on a Pakistani passport out of Karachi, does Fazlullah travel on an Afghan passport out of Kabul," asked Ghani.

The Afghan President also alleged terrorists wounded in Afghanistan are openly treated in Pakistani hospitals. "Afghan designated terrorists also hold open meetings in Islamabad," he said.
Ghani rejected allegations that Afghan government had leaked the news of former Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar's death, which resulted in suspension of Pakistan-facilitated dialogue between the Taliban and government in the Pakistani resort city of Murree.
"The news of Mullah Omar's death came from the Taliban. We did not leak it, we just gave an official statement. After the news was leaked, we confirmed it from 19 sources, all within Taliban network," said the Afghan president.

Responding to a question, Ghani said Afghanistan was proud of its friendship with India, as India shares Afghanistan's democratic aspirations.

"India is a historical friend of Afghanistan, India is building dams in Afghanistan, it is a democratic country and shares our democratic aspirations," said Ghani, adding that his country's foreign policy is no other country's business.

Ghani presented a three point agenda in order to build trust measure with Pakistan.

He asked Pakistan to go after declared terrorist groups, saying "if you don't take action against them, we won't trust you."
Ghani said all countries should act on the quadrilateral process, regarding reconcilable and irreconcilable (groups).
Thirdly, he said those who reject peace talks should be evacuated from Pakistan.


Saturday, 9 July 2016

Showkat Islam Sahib and death of Kashmiri youths, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Showkat Islam Sahib and death of Kashmiri youths
Dr Shabir Choudhry   9 July 2016  

Salam brother, like you, I am also saddened on killing of some more young Kashmiri people who have lost their lives over a ‘struggle’ which was never ours. You were brave enough to ask some questions; however, I did not know how to react and express my sentiments. 

I know what I am going to write will annoy many people. They will criticise me. They will level more allegations against me. Despite that I feel I have to write, and ask some questions from you and others who cry over plight of the Kashmiri people; and sadly want to continue with the same policy that has hurt us so much over the past decades. 

1. Did you really think the world and the neighbouring country will shed blood tears over killing of Kashmiri young men in a struggle to make Kashmir part of Pakistan? 

2. Is it not the case that blood in Kashmir and dead bodies suits their policy? 

• Did you read Pakistani Lt General Shahid Aziz’s book: Ye Khamoshi Kab Tak, page 177, where he asks his seniors:  
What policy is this that just to keep enemy engaged in Kashmir we will continue to shed Kashmiri blood? Is there an end to this Jihad? Do we have an end in mind or are we going to keep it at a certain level which keeps India engaged there?   

3. They had an agenda and a plan in mind - how to use name of Kashmir to advance their interests; we on the other hand, had no plan or a strategy and result is before us. It is sad that many people of Jammu and Kashmir are still promoting that agenda for various reasons.  

4. Sadly to many it is a business - a blood business - more dead bodies and destruction better it is for their business. These merchants of blood want to ensure that the Kashmir pot continue boiling at a certain level. 

5. Let us acknowledge and analyse, even after 28 years of the militancy, that we were fooled in name of 'azadi.  

• Ask yourself what preparation did we make before borrowing some guns from the neighbouring country; which, sadly also occupies our land? 

• What strategy was in place to care for the families of the dead, injured and orphans? 

• Was there any organisation to care for the widows and their children? 

• Even in militancy there are many sections and a complete system which needs to be established before you embark on this bloody path. Was there anything established? There are so many other questions related to this. 6. Were the political leaders taken in to confidence? Did anyone in Kashmir know what some young men were going to do with the borrowed gun?  

7. Did they not think of consequences of using a borrowed gun? Did they not think that Indian army also has guns and they will kill and commit human rights abuses in which their brothers and sisters will suffer? 

8. Were leadership of minorities taken in to confidence? 

9. Or they were perceived as non Kashmiris and not trustworthy? How do we blame them for not joining the ‘struggle’? Question arises which struggle? Whose struggle? 

10. Were our preparations sufficient to care for the ‘struggle’ and defeat a country like India? Or we were happy that a neighbouring country which has a deep rooted agenda and obsession to get Kashmir has given some guns, bullets, money and few days training.  

11. Did pioneers of the militancy and their leadership thought once they killed few Indian soldiers or local policemen with the borrowed guns in Kashmir, India will pack their bags and leave Kashmir? 

12. Was there any plan to liberate areas under Pakistan? Or the ‘struggle’ wanted only to liberate the Valley? 

13. Death of young people is sad, but was that death for independence or to make Kashmir a ‘slave’; or put it mildly, make Kashmir a part of a neighbouring country? 

14. When our ideological lines are not clear, our strategy is not clear, our vision is not clear; and we continue to wave flags of Pakistan, India and ISIS the world will continue to view this in the context of India and Pakistan conflict to get Kashmir. 

15. Or they may think that some Kashmiri youths have also chosen the path of extremism – following path of Daaesh. 

16. Ask yourself which country wants to be engaged in India Pakistan competition to get maximum area of JK? 

17. We asked similar questions in mid 1990s. We said estimate is that around 30 thousand people have perished in the ‘struggle’, and there is no end in sight. All disputes are resolved on the negotiating table. It is up to us to start talks now or get 50 thousand people killed and then talk. 

 18. We were branded as anti Pakistan, anti Movement, anti Jihad and Indian agents. These allegations are still levelled against us, and now we hear that more than 80- 90 people have lost their lives. 

19. Is it not time to show rationality and think why we are in a cul de sac? Why we are so helpless, bleeding and suffering with no light at the end of tunnel? There is no one to even wipe our tears. There is no shoulder to cry on.  

20. If we are sincere with the people of Jammu and Kashmir State and want independence of the State, then we have to acknowledge our mistakes, formulate a new strategy for the liberation of the entire State. If we want to please everyone, and do politics in name of struggle then continue with the old policy of accusing each other, waving different flags to give confusing messages to the world community. 


Writer is a political analyst, TV anchor and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:drshabirchoudhry@gmail.com

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

What its scuttling of India’s NSG bid reveals about Pakistan

 What its scuttling of India’s NSG bid reveals about Pakistan
At least three strands are apparent in Pakistan's reaction to the developments leading up to, and following, the Seoul meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
One, there is a lot of jubilation and chest-thumping that India has been denied entry into the NSG despite its aggressive diplomacy and once again "parity" between the two neighbours has been retained. There is glee that Pakistan applied for membership at the eleventh hour on 18 May, the deadline for applying. This effectively scuttled India's entry into the NSG because had Pakistan not applied, India could have had an easier time at the plenary meeting.
 Pakistan's "principled" position (tailored to mirror China's) is that it is opposed to "country-specific exemptions"; it wants a level-playing field and a "criteria-based" approach for NSG membership. Islamabad wanted its application for NSG membership considered alongside India's to ensure strategic stability in South Asia.
Pakistan's attitude was possibly best summed up in an article in The Express Tribuneclaiming that the non-proliferation regime had become stricter due to India's peaceful nuclear test in 1974, but in a twist of fate "it now wants to rehabilitate the thief and make it a sheriff without the latter changing its habits".

However, realists in the Pakistani establishment have cautioned that they should not get carried away by its "success" in foiling India's bid at Seoul. They have pointed out that India enjoys much greater support in the NSG as compared to Pakistan. They have also noted that the NSG waiver that India got with the US support in 2008 provides it most of the benefits that an NSG membership would. Finally, they also realise that the US is likely to continue to press for Indian exceptionalism in nuclear energy development.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Two, Pakistan's "all-weather" friendship with China has been reinforced. Pakistan has noted with great satisfaction China's assurance that it would stress that in case the NSG members made an exception for India, they should do the same for Pakistan. In other words, if India became an NSG member, so would Pakistan. China's insistence on Pakistan's inclusion was justified as being essential to putting in place a non-discriminatory criterion for offering NSG membership: all interested states should be asked to sign the NPT first because exempting any nation from this would weaken the entire non-proliferation regime.
If exemptions are to be made, then the group must agree on a criteria for admission of non-NPT states with no arbitrary "selectivity or exclusion". In this manner, China has signaled that Pakistan could piggyback on the Indian application to become a member of the NSG.

JILTED FRIEND

Three, and most significant, is the feeling of hurt over the manner in which the US, and especially President Barack Obama, invested a lot of time and political capital in pushing for India's membership. Pakistan has noted with some alarm the US statement that it strongly supported India's role in global institutions like the NSG and the UN Security Council, and that Washington desired to "continue to work constructively" with NSG members to admit India into the organisation.




Tuesday, 5 July 2016

PAKISTAN- The international Community must take notice of disappearances and extra judicial killing—side event at UN demands

PAKISTAN- The international Community must take notice of disappearances and extra judicial killing—side event at UN demands 5 July, 2016
A Statement by the Asian Legal Resource Centre
The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) held a side event on enforced disappearances and extra judicial killing in Pakistan and also had long discussion with the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID).

On June 20, the delegation of ALRC submitted a 160-page report on enforced disappearances and extra judicial killings in Pakistan, citing the cases and also the updated list of disappeared persons. The delegation of WGEID, led by Ms. Gabriela Guzman, secretary of WGEID and Human Rights Officer, Protection, Religion, Accountability & Human Security Session, expressed its concern regarding the continuous phenomenon of enforced disappearances by the law enforcement agencies particularly in Balochistan and Sindh provinces and unbridled powers to law enforcement agencies including military.
This comprehensive report contains data and cases of torture, extra judicial killing and of missing persons.

Ms. Gabriela Guzman said that the points discussed during the meeting, along with the joint report submitted by the different organizations under the banner of Asian Legal Resource Center, will be shared with WGEID Members.

Recognizing the alarming human rights situation in Balochistan and Sindh including Karachi, she told the meeting that the WGEID fact finding report based on the country visit during the period of 2012-2016 will be published this year. This report has already been sent to the Government of Pakistan but there is no response and follow up on that, she added. She assured that the WGEID is extensively engaged for making follow up on the individual cases of the enforced disappearances and other human rights violations.

Ms. Gebreila said that the team of WGEID visited Pakistan in 2012 and made a report on its visit and discussions with various stake holders including victim families but still did not find follow-up on the recommendations of WGEID. She pointed out that in September session of UN Human Rights Council report on disappearances will be submitted which will cover the situation in different countries.

The delegation of ALRC shared the situation of the rule of law in Pakistan and raised serious concerns on the gross human rights violations in Pakistan. Delegation particularly pointed out the recent cases of disappearances, killings and torture in custody of the political workers and activists of movements in Sindh including Karachi and other different parts of Balochistan. It also highlighted the genuine concerns of the Pakistani civil society on the chronic absence of the rule of law, rampant extra judicial killings and the culture of impunity, enjoyed by the law enforcing officials in Pakistan.

The delegation, urged response from the Working Group on individual cases of extra judicial killings and missing persons in all the provinces. In response to the concerns raised by the delegates, Ms. Gebreila Guzman said that the points discussed during the meeting, along with the joint report submitted by the different organizations under the banner of Asian Legal Resource Center, will be shared with WGEID Members.

The delegation of ALRC was consisted of Mr. Baseer Naweed, ALRC, Ms. Bushra Khaliq, Executive Director, Women in Struggle for Empowerment (WISE), Mr. Hammal Haidar Baloch, Balochistan Nationalist Movement Mr. Sardar Shoukat Kashmiri, UKPNP, Mr. Nasir Aziz, UKPNP, Mr. Dilip Kumar, Chairperson of Sindh Human Rights Watch, Mr. Hasan Mujtaba, writer and columnist, Mr. Sufi Laghari, Sindhi Foundation, and Hatim Baloch of Baloch Human Rights Council.
On June 21, the ALRC held a side event at UN Human Rights Council building on the enforced disappearances and extra judicial killings. The speakers at the side event were experts in their field and prominent activist working on the issue of enforced disappearances. The speakers agreed that enforced disappearances are the direct outcome of a degenerated and collapsing criminal justice system.
The speakers opined that as Enforced disappearances and extra judicial killings are espoused by nearly all law enforcers, it becomes an easy way to control crime and maintain public order. The promulgation of draconian laws such as Protection of Pakistan Act (PPA) which gives unbridled power to the law enforcement agencies (LEA) particularly to the military, is a dire measure by the state failing to ensure human rights of its citizens.

The speakers of the side event were; Mr. Baseer Naweed, ALRC, Mr. Sharan Srinavas of Right Livelihood Award, Mr. Fernando of UNPO, Mr. Mehran Baloch of Balochistan House, Ms. Bushra Khaliq, Executive Director, Women in Struggle for Empowerment (WISE), Mr. Hammal Haidar Baloch, Balochistan Nationalist Movement, Mr. Sardar Shoukat Kashmiri, UKPNP, Mr. Nasir Aziz, UKPNP, Mr. Lakho Lohano and Ms. Rubina of World Sindhi CongressMr. Dilip Kumar, Chairperson of Sindh Human Rights Watch, Mr. Hasan Mujtaba, writer and columnist, Mr. Sufi Laghari, Sindhi Foundation, Hatim Baloch of Baloch Human Rights Council, Mr. Arif from MQM and Mr. Munir Mengal of Voice of Balochistan. A report from Mr. Nasrullah of Voice of Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) was also presented in the side event.

The speakers pointed that the confirmed numbers of disappeared persons and extra judicial killings are not available because the government hides itself behind the terrorist activities. Those persons who were disappeared but may he reappeared they gave the names of security persons and even identified their names who tortured them in incommunicado but judiciary failed to take action against perpetrators. The cases of extra judicial killings are very much common and are reported from every province which remained high as compared to previous years. The military operation against terrorist, the Zarb-e-Azb, has proved to be worst kind of extra judicial killings. In Sindh province a new phenomenon of extra judicial killings were reported in the name of Full fry and Half fry, where police decide how to deal with the suspects, more than 100 persons were killed in the name of full fry.

Pakistan’s ambassador in China boasted earlier this week that they had killed 3,400 people in military operations in Balochistan to protect the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Killing thousands of people just to assure China to invest money? What sort of state is Pakistan? And what sort of humanitarian values the world is defending if it cannot speak a word against this genocide of the Baloch people on their own homeland. However, unfortunately, 3,400 is not the total number of the Baloch killed by Pakistan state.

The people of Pakistan are looking for justice but Pakistan is the other name of injustice. After Bosnia and Croatia, Pakistan has the highest numbers in disappearances and extra judicial killings. The mass graves of disappeared persons are found as the commissions formed to probe the mass graves but they conspicuously given impunity to the law enforcement agencies.

The Kashmiris and Gilgit-Baltistan have been forced to remain in Pakistan but they do not enjoy the constitutional rights and nor they have been treated as the citizens of Pakistan. The intelligence agencies use the citizens against India in proxy war and if persons refuse to become part of proxy wars they were disappeared and after some times their dead bodies are found abandoned.

The disappearances and extra judicial killings have become endemic and has been treated by the state as the best solution to deprive the people of their fundamental rights and right to life. This is the main cause of serious concerns in Pakistan where state nor government and even judiciary do not willing to eradicate the menace of disappearances and extra judicial killings. Enforced disappearances erode the structure of equity and human rights that form the basis of justice systems throughout the world. By providing impunity, the State has itself become a party in the murder of its citizens, denying them the right to fair trial and due process. The state inaction in the face of rising trend in extra judicial killings and enforced disappearance has further eroded the public confidence and shattered the hope for sustainable democratic society.

Because of the absence of rule of law and criminal justice system the security agencies enjoy the impunity and it is impossible for the victims and their family members to get justice. The judiciary has totally failed to recover the disappeared persons and bring the perpetrators of disappearances and extra judicial killings before the court of law.

Pakistan has been at the fore front in the war against terror thousands of innocent civilians have lost their lives and there is still no end in sight to the mindless blood and gore. Each day many nameless unfortunate souls are picked up by the agencies never to be seen or heard again. The effected families are left in a lurch to search for their loved ones. The police too don’t register an FIR the aggrieved family is even denied the right to know the whereabouts of their son, father, husband or brother the entire state machinery becomes operational to silence and threaten the suffering family.
In September 2015, the government of Pakistan has admitted to having arrested 9,000 people from Balochistan in 2015 under the National Action Plan. However, rights groups fear that the number of enforced disappeared persons in 2015 could be even higher. The speakers lamented the practise of holding the victims indefinitely and without charge.

The most difficult issue in addressing enforced disappearances is that the practice is largely un-documented. The “disappeared” individuals are not charged with any crime, and they never appear before any magistrate to challenge their detention or plead their innocence. They are not registered by State authorities, their whereabouts are kept unknown, each intelligence agency is unaware about the people disappeared by the other, and the victims are held indefinitely.

Extra judicial killing being another dangerous and unconstitutional state practice was also discussed at the side event. Extrajudicial killings by State agencies and their proxies remain rampant across Pakistan, more specifically in Balochistan. The speakers noted that Extra judicial Enforced disappearances undermine the deepest values of any society committed to respect the rule of law and human rights, and that the systematic practice of enforced disappearances is recognized as a crime against humanity under international law. Any act of enforced disappearance is an offence to human dignity and a grave and flagrant violation of multiple human rights guarantees, including the right to recognition as a person before the law, the right to liberty and security of the person and the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

The speakers said the international community was reluctant to recognize the humanitarian crisis in Balochistan, Sindh, Kashmir, KPK province and Gilgit and Baltistan and urged them particularly USA and European community to take notice of the increasing violations of human rights in Pakistan and raise the issues of enforced disappearances and extra judicial killings at the highest level. The speakers realized that this is not the only responsibility of UN but also the UAS and European Union including all those countries who are champions of human rights to review their economic and bilateral relationships with Pakistan until the state of Pakistan stop the menace of extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances.
###
The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) works towards the radical rethinking & fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in Asia, to ensure relief and redress for victims of human rights violations, as per Common Article 2 of the International Conventions. Sister organisation to the Asian Human Rights Commission, the ALRC is based in Hong Kong & holds general consultative status with the Economic & Social Council of the United Nations.
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Thursday, 30 June 2016

Pakistan's textbooks close door on peaceful future with India

June 28, 2016
A new study of Pakistani school textbooks backed by a US government commission has concluded their contents will make it virtually impossible for a new generation of Pakistanis to envision a peaceful future with Hindu-majority India.
The report “Teaching intolerance in Pakistan: Religious bias in public school textbooks”, released this week and sponsored by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), noted that the textbooks are riddled with errors about minority faiths and cultures.
The textbooks, which reach more than 41 million children, negatively portray religious minorities as “untrustworthy and inferior”, the USCIRF said. The study was conducted by Pakistan-based NGO Peace and Education Foundation (PEF).
According to the study, a tenth grade Urdu textbook states: “Because the Muslim religion, culture and social system are different from non-Muslims, it is impossible to cooperate with Hindus.”
The report said: “This kind of education closes all doors for a new generation of Pakistani Muslims to see a peaceful future with Hindus of India, and worse yet, it provides a rationale to treat Pakistani Hindus as outsiders.
“In contrast, it ignores how Hindus and Muslims have cooperated and coexisted peacefully for centuries in the subcontinent.”
USCIRF chairman Robert P George said: “Pakistan’s public school textbooks contain deeply troubling content that portrays non-Muslim citizens as outsiders, unpatriotic, and inferior; are filled with errors; and present widely-disputed historical ‘facts’ as settled history.
He added this reflects the “alarming state today of religious freedom in Pakistan”.
The report said the social studies, Pakistan studies, and history curriculums teach students “a version of history that promotes a national Islamic identity of Pakistan and often describes conflicts with India in religious terms”. It added, “The conflation of national and religious identities creates a narrative of conflict and historic grievance between Pakistani Muslims and Indian Hindus.”
The report cited a social studies textbook of Sindh province that states: “Even a half century after the creation of Pakistan, (Hindu racist) organisations are still working to eliminate Muslims. As a result, violence has occurred between Hindus and other groups living in Pakistan, which resulted in the destruction of Babri mosque and Hindu-Muslim riots in Gujarat…”
The report further said: “In post-independence history, wars with India are emphasised and examples of peace initiatives are largely ignored, resulting in an unbalanced historical discourse focused on intractable conflict.”
The new study found some intolerant passages identified in another study in 2011 were removed from textbooks, while many new examples of bias were added, including passages that portray Pakistani Hindus as Indians.
The study made several recommendations, including the acknowledgement of peaceful coexistence and religious diversity in Pakistan so that students learn to respect all faiths.
The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan US government panel that monitors the right to freedom of religion abroad and makes policy recommendations to the President, secretary of state and Congress.