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HR Division’s inaction over issues of madressah girls irks NA committee

Updated December 16, 2014

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Girls after recovery are sitting for their registration before shifting to Darul Banaat child protection unit in Karachi. - PPI/file
Girls after recovery are sitting for their registration before shifting to Darul Banaat child protection unit in Karachi. - PPI/file

ISLAMABAD: Members of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights expressed on Monday their annoyance over the Human Rights (HR) Division for its failure to conduct an investigation into the recovery of minor girls from various places in Karachi last month.

The committee while rejecting a Sindh government’s report directed the HR Division to present its own comprehensive report on the issue by Dec 24.

Read: Police recover 36 minor girls from Karachi home

The committee headed by Chaudhry Mahmood Bashir Virk also rejected a constitution amendment bill moved by Asiya Nasir and others of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) calling upon the government to take steps for use of Urdu as official language in offices and ensure its complete enforcement in next 15 years.

The committee had called senior officials of the HR Division of the ministry concerned to brief members about steps taken by the government for the rehabilitation of minor girls hailing from a tribal area and the action taken against those responsible for shifting them to Karachi.

Also read: Bajaur girls head home from Peshawar

Police recovered 36 girl students of a seminary from a house in Liaquatabad area and a flat in Korangi Crossing area of Karachi on Nov 26. These girls, hailing from Bajaur Agency, had reportedly been handed over to a family by a teacher and a supervisor of a madressah over a monetary dispute.

The committee’s chairman questioned the purpose of the HR Division if it could not even hold investigations on its own into an issue which had been highlighted by the international media as well and earned a bad name to the country. He was of the view that it seemed that the HR Division had not even considered it an important matter.

Also read| Recovery of Bajaur girls: Court grants bail to three accused

Mr Virk said the recovery of girls was a serious matter. He said that instead of presenting a police report, the HR Division should have come out with its own report that should contain replies to crucial and hitherto unanswered questions.

The chairman said the committee wanted to know whether the seminary which had brought the girls to Karachi from Bajaur Agency was registered or not? Since how long this seminary has been imparting religious education in Karachi? And whether the girls had been brought to Karachi with the permission of their parents?

Also read: Bajaur girls — Unanswered questions

Earlier, the committee members were told that a female teacher of the seminary had handed the girls over to a family when the family was unable to repay a Rs350,000 loan it had taken from the madressah. The members were also informed that three persons had been taken into custody and were being interrogated.

The girls had already been handed over to their parents in Bajaur Agency through the political agent.

Meanwhile, the committee rejected the constitution amendment bill piloted by JUI-F’s Asiya Nasir seeking an amendment to Article 251 calling upon the government to make arrangements for using Urdu for official purpose from Jan 1, 2015, onwards.

Presently, Article 251 states: “The national language of Pakistan is Urdu, and arrangements shall be made for it being used for official and other purposes within 15 years from the commencing day.”

The members have suggested replacement of the words “from the commencing day” with “from the first day of 2015”.

However, the committee members were of the view that by doing this amendment, they would provide an indemnity to the period during which the rulers did not take any step to make arrangements for making Urdu an official language.

The chairman said that they were rejecting the bill, but the committee would recommend to the government to take practical steps in this direction.

During the discussion on the bill, the members from Punjab and Sindh also exchanged hot words over the use of Sindhi in the provincial assembly and courts in the province.

Ayaz Soomro of the PPP defended the use of Sindhi as official language in the assembly and offices in Sindh, saying that they had been doing it through legislation and no one should have any objection to it.

The chairman said he personally believed that Urdu should be promoted and given preference to all other regional languages.

Published in Dawn December 16th , 2014