Asma, Tahira want immediate operation but no human rights abuses
ISLAMABAD: As air strikes by the PAF against TTP continue in North Waziristan and fears of civilian deaths and abuses of human rights increase, a leading activist, Asma Jahangir says the operation should no longer be delayed but extreme caution must be taken to avoid human rights violations, as seen in the past.
Asma Jehangir told The News on Monday: “The military operations against the Taliban have already been delayed and the army should not delay it further and only strike back in retaliation as it is the only action against terrorists that will save Pakistan.”
But she reminded that civilians suffer as collateral damage and also face abuses by law enforcement authorities.“Remember we do not want a repeat of the human right abuses at the hands of our soldiers that we saw in the past. They have still not been accounted for. We will be monitoring the situation”.
Analysts say though these abuses take place all over Pakistan on a daily basis and are totally unjustified it is especially troubling when it comes from a well disciplined force.“I am entirely in favour of an immediate targeted military operation against the Taliban. At the same time , human rights defenders will be watching closely to ensure that there are no extra-judicial violations, as we are not like the Taliban who do not have any humanity,” Tahira Abdullah, another leading human rights activist told The News.
Both Jehangir and Abdullah recall the promises made by former COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to make public a high-level inquiry regarding video footage showing the cold-blooded execution of a group of bound and blindfolded detainees allegedly by Pakistani soldiers, were not kept.
Analysts say the ordinary civilians had to pay an unavoidable price even in the earlier army operations in Swat and South Waziristan. But what can be avoided are human rights abuses that generally take place in situations like this.
Former army chief General Kayani had promised that the findings of an inquiry into such violations would be made public and the soldiers found guilty would be punished, but that never happened.
The issue had been raised when video clips came out showing men as soldiers gunning down some bound and blindfolded detainees. The two clips were apparently shot using cell phones and were circulated on the Internet. The footage was grainy and showed no time stamps. The army inquiry had to determine whether those shown in uniform were actual soldiers.
General Kayani in a statement had said at the time, that it was not expected of a professional army to engage in excesses against the people whom it was trying to guard against the scourge of terrorism.
Many had lauded the decision of General Kayani to set up a board which was headed by a major general, a two star officer of Pakistan Army. He was assisted by two/three senior officers with the experience of investigating such incidents. Necessary technical expertise was made available to the board.
Even though the inquiry report was finalized, Kayani was reluctant to make it public thus making a mockery of his earlier promise. It is now up to the present COAS General Raheel Sharif how he handles that inquiry report but also important are assurances that human right abuses will not be repeated or tolerated.