ISLAMABAD: Senator Farhatullah Babar of the PPP on Monday said a privilege motion has been moved against Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz for concealing truth in the upper house about a Pakistani transgender who died in Saudi Arabia.

He was speaking at a meeting of the Senate Human Rights Committee which discussed the recent death of the transgender.

According to media reports, the transgender belonging to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa died in Riyadh because of alleged torture in the hands of the Saudi police.

“The adviser to PM told the Senate that the transgender was staying in Saudi Arabia illegally. But according to our investigations, the transgender had a valid visa.

“Moreover, Sartaj Aziz claimed that the body was brought to Pakistan at the expense of the government but relatives and friends of the transgender claimed that they contributed money to bring the body home,” Mr Babar said.

“The transgender was a citizen of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia has no right to kill any Pakistani. If a Pakistani dies in Saudi Arabia, it is our responsibility to take up the issue,” he said.

A representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed the meeting that the Saudi police raided a rest house and arrested 35 Pakistanis, out of whom some were transgender.

“It was alleged that the transgender people were involved in arranging dance parties and some of them were dressed as women. It is learnt that the Saudi officials had been keeping an eye on them for two and a half months. The transgender was a heart patient due to which he died in the lock-up. After three days, 24 Pakistani citizens were released but five others are still under arrest,” he said.

The official claimed that the embassy of Pakistan had offered an autopsy on the body of the transgender but the relatives refused. The Foreign Office has sent a note to the Saudi authorities, he added.

A son of the transgender informed the committee that his father’s body was brought after efforts of 11 days.

“When we opened the coffin, my father’s teeth and jaw were broken. Moreover, there were marks of wounds on the body.”

He said his father had been working in Saudi Arabia on an open visa for 19 years.

President of Transgender Association Almas Bobi told the committee that torture on the transgender was increasing. The chairman of the committee, Mohsin Laghari, said it was unfortunate that society had failed to give proper value and status to the transgender community.

“However, it is encouraging that finally there is a feeling to discuss the issues of the transgender people. The next meeting will be held on the one-point agenda to take steps for the welfare of transgender people,” he said.

Senator Samina Khalid said no one had the right to kill any Pakistani citizen. She suggested that the government should take up the matter with the Saudi authorities properly.

Award for Rashid Rehman

Senator Farhatullah Babar suggested an award for Rashid Rehman, who was a human rights activist and assassinated in Multan.

He said there were complaints that the family of Mr Rehman was facing threats.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2017