ISLAMABAD, Nov 29: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights expressed dismay when it was informed during a meeting on Thursday that law-enforcement agencies had failed to arrest a single culprit involved in sectarian killings in Northern Areas.

The culprits are still at large whether it was the February massacre of 18 passengers belonging to the Shia community of Gilgit-Baltistan when they were travelling on a bus, of 25 people in Chilas in April despite extensive security or murder of 26 people in Lulusar Top area in August.

The pattern of killings in the three incidents was the same. Gunmen stopped the buses and killed the Shia passengers after ascertaining their identities with the help of their identity cards.

When asked about the Lulusar Top killings, Hazara Division Commissioner Khalid Khan and DIG Naeem Khan said that only their soil had been used and that it was the jurisdiction of the Gilgit-Baltistan government to conduct an investigation into the incident. They suggested a joint operation to arrest the killers.

The MNAs wondered how the killers, wearing army uniforms, were able to use military vehicles. “It’s the failure of the law-enforcement agencies which have not been able to solve the cases of sectarian killings,” said Riaz Fatyana, chairman of the committee. He ordered setting up of a joint investigation team comprising officials from the army, Inter-Services Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau and the concerned departments of Gilgit-Baltistan government and Hazara to solve the cases.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT: The meeting discussed the case of the alleged sexual harassment of a former woman employee of the Pakistan Engineering Council by senior manager administration.

The PEC’s anti-harassment inquiry committee had decided the case against the woman who had joined the council in December last year as a receptionist and her service was terminated in June this year.

“Having gone through the findings, the committee is of the opinion that the victim has levelled false allegations against the senior manager, which may be a reaction to her termination from the service and to gain sympathies for her reinstatement,” the committee said.

The woman had worked in Serena Hotel as a guest relations officer for seven years before joining the PEC where she was on probation. The standing committee heard both sides separately.

The woman objected to the composition of the PEC’s inquiry panel and said it was biased and its decision unfair.

The senior manager, who is a retired army colonel, informed the committee about his upright character during seven years in the government service.

Most members of the committee, including Kashmala Tariq and Fauzia Habib, expressed doubts about the findings of the PEC’s inquiry panel. They objected to the procedures adopted to decide the case.

Mr Fatyana decided to form a sub-committee comprising Ms Habib, Sabeen Rizvi and Samina Pagganwala with Ms Tariq as its convener to investigate the matter.

They are required to monitor the hearing of the case by the Court of Federal Ombudsman on Sexual Harassment in Workplace. The court has been asked to decide the case in a month.

IRREGULARITIES: The committee also discussed a case relating to irregularities in the Rs1.7 billion Prime Minister Fund released for the settlement of people affected by sectarian violence in Kurram Agency.

The committee directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor to decide the 5,000 cases for settlement in a transparent manner in two months.

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