The Functional Committee on Human Rights in its meeting on Thursday took strong notice of lack of focus of the Foreign Office on the issue of Kashmir. Stringent measures to step up world power engagement; with a focus on humanitarian intervention were recommended.
The meeting was chaired by Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokar and was attended by Senator Kesho Bai, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq, Senator Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar, Senator Kamran Michael, Senator Shaheen Khalid Butt, Senator Prof. Mehr Taj Roghani, Senator Muhammad Ali Khan Saif, Senator Jehanzeb Jamaldini and senior officers of the Ministry of Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Punjab Police. Minister for Human Rights, Ms. Shireen Mazari was present in the meeting as well.
While briefing the Committee on the human rights violation in Indian Occupied Kahmir (IOK) Minister for Human Rights, Ms. Shireen Mazari asserted that according to two reports published in July 2019, by the Office of the Commissioner of Human Rights, there were concerns of excessive use of force by Indian Security Forces. The basic demand in both these reports was that the Human Rights Council must establish an independent investigation commission to probe the human rights violations in IOK. She said that Pakistan has stressed incessantly that recommendations of the report be implemented. However, India went a step further by revoking the special status of the valley on 5th August, 2019. She added as per policy, Pakistan had never accepted the special status of IOK. She said that most Pakistani governments have not pushed the point that India took the dispute to the UN Security Council under chapter 6; that states that this is a dispute between two member states and that it must be resolved peacefully. This she asserted makes null and void the claim of this being an internal matter of India. She said that it would help the cause if certain issues are highlighted. She said that it was imperative that Pakistan focus on R2P, the Responsibility to Protect introduced by the UNRIC in order to address its four key concerns to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. She added that an envoy of the Ministry of Human Rights had met with the Vatican Representative in Pakistan to highlight the issue and request the His Holiness the Pope to be taken on board and for him to issue a statement on the blatant abuse of human rights in the valley. This, she said would have a huge impact on Latin American states who are members of the United Nations. She said that gender based violence in the valley must be highlighted, along with violence on children and freedom of worship. She said that once the siege of IOK is lifted, it has the potential of an enormous bloodbath. This is of great concern to Pakistan, she added asserting that the war crimes in the 4th Geneva Conventions must be emphasized and that ICJ advisory must be consulted in this regard. The Committee lauded the efforts of the Ministry and recommended that in addition to the Vatican, the Arch Bishop of Canterbury must be taken on board. The need to set aside austerity measures for now and visit the capitals of major sates was stressed as well.
The Committee took stringent notice of the absence of the Foreign Secretary and as recommended decided to take up the issue in the next meeting scheduled to be held on the 18th September, 2019. Chairman Committee, Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokar said that if the Secretary Foreign Affairs fails to attend, a privilege motion would be moved against him.
While taking up the issue of death and torture of detainees in Punjab, the Committee took serious notice of the absence of IG Police Punjab. It, however, took briefings from DPO Rahim Yar Khan on the issue custodial torture and killing of Sallahuddin Ayubi, who broke into an ATM machine in Rahim Yar Khan. The Committee recommended that a JIT be formed to investigate the matter independently. The Committee was informed that various organs of the victim have been sent for testing to ascertain the reason for Sallahuddin’s death, results for which are awaited. Chairman Committee was of the view that there were various questions pertaining to this case that can only be answered by IG Police Punjab. He stressed the need for him to be present in the next meeting when this issue would be taken up once again in more detail as forensic reports of the victim would be available as well. Measures for police reform were stressed, to thrash a way out to curb custodial killings in Punjab. While taking up the case of Amir Masih, the Committee was of the view that this was a gross violation of human rights as he was taken to an unknown place for interrogation and in an attempt to flee the place he jumped down from the second floor where he was detained. The Committee was assured that strict action would be taken against the sub-Inspector involved. Amir Masih was detained without fulfilling legal formalities. The Committee was of the view that a strong recommendation must be sent from this forum, after detailed discussions with the Ministry of Human Rights and the Interior Ministry.
While enquiring of the anti-Torture Bill, the Committee was informed that it is currently with the Interior Ministry for review. The Committee decided that the Bill introduced by former Senator Farhatullah Babar on the same issue be revived and be tabled in the forthcoming session of the Senate. The Committee also resolved to carry out all necessary efforts for passing the said Bill from the Senate at the earliest.