LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Tuesday called upon the federal government to take notice of the ongoing protest by the Pashtuns in Islamabad.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the commission said: “The HRCP is dismayed at the apathy of the federal government towards the people of Waziristan, hundreds of whom have been protesting in Islamabad since start of this month.”

“The murder of Naqeebullah Mehsud in a fake encounter by the police in Karachi on Jan 13 has stirred up grievances of Pashtuns in general and of the people of Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fata) in particular. Thousands of activists from all over the country have come to Islamabad to participate in the protest that began on Feb 1. The protesters have made five demands which include the immediate arrest and prosecution of Rao Anwar, the police official accused of murdering Naqeebullah Mehsud, investigations into extra-judicial killings in Karachi and elsewhere in the country, stopping of enforced disappearances and recovery of missing persons with the demand of producing them in courts and the release of individuals who are not guilty of any crimes, an end to the collective responsibility punishments meted out to entire villages, sub-tribes and tribes after any illegal, militant or criminal activities in Waziristan and Fata and the clearing of landmines in Waziristan and Fata.”

The HRCP has always maintained that it is imperative that Pakistan ensures due process of law for all of its citizens as per its obligations under the Constitution and the international human rights treaties to which it is a signatory. Thorough and impartial probes must be conducted into illegal detentions, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings and the law should be enforced against the perpetrators of such acts, it added.

“It is the state’s responsibility to ensure that the areas that have been declared clear are truly safe for the internally displaced persons from Fata to return to. Reports of incidents of injuries and deaths because of landmines in South Waziristan and other parts of Fata are very alarming. Authorities must take immediate notice of this very serious issue and begin working on measures to clear all such areas from landmines to ensure the safety of the local residents.”

The commission noted that the delay in the implementation of Fata reforms have added significantly to the frustrations and miseries of the people of Fata as they continue to languish under the draconian Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR). The federal government must not delay the process of reforms in Fata any further.

“The HRCP calls upon the government to address the valid and legitimate demands of the protestors immediately and to ensure implementation of the ensuing commitments,” the statement concludes.

Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2018



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