Human Rights Ministry asked to take steps towards Christian girl’s release
By: WAQAR LILLAH
ISLAMABAD: National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights on Wednesday directed the Ministry of Human Rights to take every possible step for release of Rimsha Masih, a 14-year-old Christian girl, who was allegedly arrested from Islamabad for desecration of Holy Quran.
The committee condemned the arrest of minor Christian girl, who is reportedly suffering from Down syndrome. The committee said that Inspector General Police (IGP) Islamabad should provide security to Rimsha and her family along with all the minorities residing in Islamabad.
The committee further said that if the State failed to save the lives of people belonging to different section of minorities residing in federal capital then how it could save them in rest of the country. The committee asked the Ministry to provide complete legal support to the victim girl while pursuing the case.
The committee also directed the Ministry to set-up special cell for the monitoring of HR violations, particularly exploitation of minorities’ rights in Pakistan. However, the committee said that an emergency meeting of the committee should be summoned to review the motive behind the arrest of Rimsha Mashi.
Chairman Committee Riaz Fatyana presided over the meeting held in Parliament House and reviewed performance of the Ministry of HR and discussed rising incidents of HR violation throughout the country including sectarian violence, target killing and kidnapping of Hindus in Sindh. Expressing serious concerns over rising sectarian violence, Riaz Fatyana condeomned target killing of 20 Shia Muslims, who were gunned down by unknown persons when they were on board a bus travelling from Rawalpindi to Gilgit.
He said that law enforcement agencies failed in saving the lives of Shias in the area, adding that it was yet not ascertained that whether the killing was due to sectarian violence or terrorist act. “Rising incidents of HR violations in Pakistan depict the failure of the State, as the security of live and property is the prime responsibility of the government.
How can we make any effort to stop violence against Muslims in the world when we are not in a position to save their lives in our own country? Law enforcement agencies failed in finding out reasons of religious and ethnic rift in sensitive cities, like Karachi, Quetta and Gilgit-Baltistan,” Riaz Fatyana said.
Riaz said local administrations of the above-mentioned cities had assured full co-operation to the committee in finding out reasons behind religious and ethnic rift, adding that a sub-committee would be set-up soon for the purpose. Police and Judiciary are responsible for the rule of law in the country, but unfortunately both failed in delivering justice at gross roots level, however the apex court was working satisfactorily, he added.
Secretary Ministry of Human Rights, Shaighan Sharif Malik informed the committee that due to limited role, the Ministry only informed the concerning law enforcement agency about the HR violation, however the Ministry did not interfere in the matter directly, and said the Ministry monitored HR violation through television, newspaper and complaints, which it received from the public, as it did not have any direct source of reporting.
Committee Member, Dr Araish Kumar, while raising the issue of violence against Hindu community in Sindh, said Hindu community residing in Sindh was forced to change their religion, particularly Hindu women were forced to convert to Islam and married with Muslims without their consent.
He said Hindu community was migrating to India as the government had yet to take concrete measures against religious fanatics involved in forced conversion of Hindu girls and children to Muslims. However, Hindu Business community was also facing threats, their children were being kidnapped for ransom and were released after the payment, he added.
He said protection of honour, lives, property, faith and culture of all citizens was government’s responsibility under the constitution and international law. Meanwhile, Committee Member, Fauzia Habib informed the committee about the finding of a sub-committee that was set up to probe the killing of seven people in Abottabad when protesters demonstrating against renaming the NWFP, as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa clashed with police.
She said that according to the findings of the committee all the victims did not have any political association and they belonged to poor families. Among seven dead two were Afghan national, she added. The committee recommends that compensations which would be given to the victim families must be increased up to one million.
Appreciating the act of Government of Punjab and Chief Justice Lahore High Court, pertaining to the constitution of an inquiry tribunal to ascertain the facts, causes of incident about loadshedding protest at Kamalia, District Toba Tek Singh, the committee appealed the Punjab government that the mandate of the inquiry tribunal might be extended to whole Punjab province as precautionary measure to avert such incidents in future.
The committee members included MNA Fauzia Habib, MNA Dr Araish Kumar, MNA Jamila Gillani, MNA Raheela Baloch, MNA Sumaira Yasir Rasheed and MNA Sabeen Rizvi. Secretary Human Rights and other government officials were also present in the meeting.