PESHAWAR: Awami National Party President Asfandyar Wali Khan has asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to order a judicial inquiry into the issue of racial profiling, harassment and persecution of Pakhtuns in Punjab to determine responsibility.

In a letter to the prime minister, the ANP leader expressed serious reservations over racial profiling of Pakhtuns who moved to Punjab as internally displaced persons or immigrants.

The letter said that large-scale complaints of harassment, persecution and mistreatment of Pakhtun IDPs/immigrants had been coming from Punjab for a few years.

He said that arrests without any specific charge and blocking of identity cards on a mass scale were a problem that had been repeatedly raised in the National Assembly and the Senate by parliamentarians from different political parties, including the ANP.

“Arrests without specific charges, night raids, police registration and blocking of ID cards have become a routine matter. Order judicial inquiry into the issue of racial profiling, harassment and persecution of the Pakhtun IDPs/immigrants in Punjab to determine responsibility,” he demanded.

He asked the prime minister to direct the interior ministry in general and Nadra in particular to unblock CNICs of Pakistani citizens belonging to Fata, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan and instruct the Punjab police to stop compulsory registration of all Pakhtuns and their guests.

Asfandyar Wali said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly had adopted a unanimous resolution asking the federal and Punjab governments to stop discriminatory, illegal and unconstitutional practices which were a violation of Article 15 of the Constitution.

He said that delegations of political leaders and parliamentarians had met responsible government authorities to draw their attention to the suffering of Pakhtuns in Punjab. But all these efforts had not produced any tangible results, he added.

He said that recently the situation aggravated further when the Punjab police and law enforcement authorities resorted to systematic racial profiling of Pakhtuns. He pointed out that written instructions by the Punjab police and Nadra officials appeared in mainstream and social media for carrying out racial profiling of Pakhtuns in Punjab.

The ANP chief claimed that a Punjab minister had not only confirmed discrimination against Pakhtuns in an interview, but also tried to justify it in the light of recent terrorist attacks in the province.

“This situation is the product of government’s discriminatory policies and has nothing to do with the people of Punjab. All this has been very painful for the Pakhtuns who have borne the brunt of terrorist onslaught as a result of the misguided policies of successive governments,” he said. The letter said that the ANP sent a fact-finding delegation to Punjab on March 7, led by its secretary general Mian Iftikhar Hussain and comprising central and provincial office-bearers of the party. The report of the fact-finding committee had established the fact that there was systematic and formal racial profiling of Pakhtuns going on in Punjab by police/security agencies, the ANP chief said.

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2017

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