Sit-ins and extremism diverting attention from rights concerns: HRCP | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Sit-ins and extremism diverting attention from rights concerns: HRCP

Pakistan Press Foundation

QUETTA: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has expressed concern at the emergence and deterioration in a litany of grave human rights concerns across the country and stated that the prevailing political situation and rise in religious extremism were proving significant hurdles in mounting any serious efforts to deal with these concerns.

In a statement issued at the conclusion of a recent meeting of its Executive Council here, the HRCP said dharnas (sit-ins) had taken attention away from other more important issues. “One of the outcomes has been strengthening of sectarian forces. The people hope and expect that the government would remain mindful of its obligation to address the pressing concerns of the people, especially the human rights concerns, even as it tries to find a way to reach out to the parties engaged in dharnas.”

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The council noted with dismay the addition of several alarming dimensions to the many human rights challenges in the country since it last met in April.

It said there had been an unchecked rise in religious extremism and the situation had worsened for religious and sectarian minority communities.

“A sequence of attacks on Sikhs in Peshawar, assaults on Hindus in Umerkot and on temples elsewhere in Sindh, target killing of an Ahmadi doctor in Mirpurkhas, killing of Ahmadis in Gujranwala, of Zikris in Awaran and attack on a blasphemy convict in Adiala prison are just some of the manifestations of increase in fanaticism and intolerance.”

The HRCP expressed concern that the lot of those charged under the blasphemy law had become all the more precarious as it had become almost impossible for them to defend themselves at their trial. “The murder of Rashid Rehman for daring to defend a blasphemy accused whose case no one else was willing to take and the complete lack of interest of the authorities to go after his killers has further encouraged impunity.”

It said the ongoing Karachi operation led by Rangers had not proven effective. Complaints of people being picked up regularly surface and are not adequately addressed. The judicial process in this respect is very slow. Sectarian and targeted killings continue and statistics including killings suggest that the operation has failed to achieve success. Poor governance has aggravated the challenge. Kidnapping for ransom has become an industry and failure to nab the criminals has created an environment of fear.

There seemed little commitment in any part of the country to improve the law and order situation, the HRCP said.

It said targeted killings were also regularly being reported from Balochistan, where incidents of enforced disappearance and dumping of mutilated bodies also continued, though the number of incidents appeared to be on the decline.

The HRCP expressed concern at the rising incidents of violence against women and minor girls all over the country, despite the enactment of seven laws over the past decade.

It called upon all the provincial governments to enact strong laws, as well as taking effective measures for their implementation; and urged the public and private media to adhere to its Voluntary Code of Gender-Sensitive Ethics, adopted over a decade ago.

It said WHO had imposed strict measures on Pakistan for external travel, with further potential sanctions. The HRCP expressed concern that the measures would have a huge negative impact on the country’s economy and its international standing.

POLIO VACCINATORS: The commission condemned the continued target killings of polio vaccinators, especially those struggling to immunise the most vulnerable children in far-flung and conservative rural areas.

It asked the federal and provincial governments to urgently provide greatly increased and more effective security cover to polio vaccinators, particularly in Fata, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Karachi, and other focus areas.

The HRCP said the killings of journalists and little attention media persons’’ plight in Balochistan were getting nationwide was exceedingly disturbing. The attacks must be investigated and the killers brought to justice.

It said the situation of people affected by floods and conflict-induced IDPs and the utter neglect of the needs was extremely distressing.

The HRCP called upon the government to deploy Nadra’s mobile service units to provide CNICs to women IDPs from North Waziristan, giving priority to the duly identified women-headed households to enable them to register with the FDMA/PDMA/NDMA, thereby becoming eligible for assistance in the form of cash, shelter, food, health care and education facilities.

It said the displacement on account of rise in cross-border tensions with India also deserved immediate attention.

The HRCP denounced once again the law on Action in Aid of Civil Power enforced in Fata and Pata. “The law violates basic human rights principles and provides cover to illegal acts of security forces in matters of arbitrary detention, torture and enfor­ced disappearance. Most sufferers under this law are the inhabitants of Malakand division.”

It said the undoing of several positive changes in the curriculum in Khyber Pakh­tunkhwa and slogans such as ‘Hum sab Musalmaan’ in Sindh would fuel more intolerance and extremism in Pakistan.

The HRCP urged the provincial governments to ensure that the curriculum promoted humanity and positive values rather than discrimination and exclusion.

The council welcomed the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Malala Yousafzai as a source of pride for the nation and an inspiration for peace and education, especially for girls.”