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Event Title: Functional Committee on Human Rights

Event Date: 2019-06-27

Regarding surveillance and scrutiny of Rawalpindi based Quetta hotels and cafes Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights was told that that inspection was conducted by Special Branch on the directions of a meeting of District Intelligence Committee and was a part of the implementation of National Action Plan whereby it is required to get all rented buildings and their employees registered and was not specific to any ethnicity. Muhammad Faisal Rana CPO Rawalpindi and Muhammad Ihsan Tufail RPO Rawalpindi told the committee that restaurants and cafes from Balochistan have overtime become popular and have experienced mushroom growth due to their low costs and better taste. He told that the drive was done in 25 hotels with 407 employees due to some information regarding child employment and lack of registration but no report of criminal activity was found. The Committee members agreed that citizens of any area should be allowed to work anywhere but the requirement of registration and identification are also right but also stressed upon maintaining impartiality in such drives and ensuring that no specific ethnicity is targeted. The Committee decided to write to IGPs of all provinces to sensitize the police department to avoid any action that can harm sentiments of any ethnicity in the country.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar here at the Parliament House on Thursday and was attended among others by Senators Muhammad Tahir Bizenjo, Dr. Jehanzeb Jamaldini, Kamran Micheal, Muhammad Usman Kakar, Hidayatullah, Quarratul ain Marri and officials from the ministry and police.

Regarding quota of admission of students from Balochistan in Punjab University, Dean of Engineering Faculty, Chairman Disciplinary Committee and Registrar from the Punjab University attended the meeting and told the committee that in 2012 the decision of quota observation was implemented on the basis of one seat one admission in each department of the university. Since January 2017 a number of fights were observed and in addition walk-in admissions started and people started getting admissions based on links instead of through a proper mechanism by the respective provincial government and higher education departments. They said that the university has not reduced the number of seats for Balochistan and 53 seats are still given to Balochistan every year. Senator Usman Khan Kakar said that no student from Balochistan has violated the discipline of the university but the problems emerged by quarrels by some unions. He said that the previous Vice Chancellor agreed to increasing the number to 106 and including MPhil and PhD as well. Representative from Higher Education Balochistan told the Committee that following the correct channel for admissions will bring the best students and proposed bringing the quota to 500 students which is still negligible in the total 45,000 students in the university. The Committee recommended increasing the number of students at least to 106 and more if possible and affording the students from Balochistan opportunity to study in other universities as well until more universities are established in the province. Punjab University representatives suggested that in order to increase the seats the Committee may invite Higher Education Commission and Punjab Government to the next meeting to see the possibility. The Committee was not satisfied with the responses by the Punjab University and decided to call the Vice Chancellor in the next meeting.

Zara Aslam, Secretary Labour and Manpower department Punjab briefed the Committee regarding the matter of alleged illegal removal of workers/union workers from service of Crescent Behuman Ltd, Pindi Bhattian, Hafizabad as well as registration of different cases against them. She told the committee that only 3 workers were terminated by the owners and their subsequent petitions in NIRC, LHC and SCP and review appeal were dismissed. The company has at present 8007 total employees, 937 women and 3 registered unions. She said such cases are between employer and employee and then are taken to labour courts and department has little to do with it. Representatives of the employees who were terminated opposed the view taken by the department while the representative of company said that 52 remaining employees who were not terminated have not contested their case at all after taking all their settlements. The Committee decided to take all the documents and study them in detail.

The Committee was also given a briefing on Declaration on 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights endorsed by the 139th IPU General Assembly at Geneva in October 2018 by Special Secretary Foreign Office. The Ministry of Human Rights suggested working on the 6th declaration in the UDHR and also proposed having a briefing and capacity building session on the core areas.

Regarding harassment of a senior Dawn correspondent in Islamabad the Committee was told by ICT police that the matter has only been reported in electronic and digital media and has not been reported in any police station of ICT but the matter is being probed. The Committee deferred the matter till next meeting so that the victim can attend and present his case.

Regarding extra-judicial arrest of Qamar Zaman Khan including workers at Sadiqabad, Superintendent Police Investigation Rahim Yar Khan Rana Ashraf told the Committee that the person is now on bail and the reasons for arrest were shared with the members of the Committee.