ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Monday urged the government to make efforts for establishment of a humanitarian corridor in India-held Kashmir so doctors and human rights groups could visit the area to see Indian atrocities there.
He was speaking at a meeting of the committee which was attended by Ghulam Bibi, Saifur Rehman, Attaullah, Kishwer Zehra, Ghazala Saifi, Rukhsana Naveed, Zille Huma, Fouzia Behram, Tashfeen Safdar, Shunila Ruth, Agha Hassan Baloch and others.
The chairman said humanitarian corridors had been established in Syria, Iraq and other areas and it should be established in Kashmir also so the Red Crescent and other humanitarian groups would go to the area to help the people.
The committee also approved Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Act 2019.
The chairman said the bill would be implemented in Islamabad after approval from the National Assembly.
Says such corridors have been set up in Syria, Iraq and other troubled areas
“There is a need to introduce such laws in Punjab and other provinces also through legislation by the provincial assemblies,” he said.
He also sought clarification from Foreign Ministry on a statement of Prime Minister Imran Khan about Durand Line between Pakistan and Afghanistan and training of Al-Qaida and Taliban by Pakistan army and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) during his visit to United States. He termed the statement a ‘blunder’, adding it portrayed a negative image of the country abroad.
He asked the Foreign Office to issue a rebuttal of the statement.
“Such an allegation was not leveled against Pakistan about training Al-Qaida in the past and Durand Line is an international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan as the previous government had started fencing it,” he said.
Officials from Foreign Office in a briefing to the committee said Indian forces were using pellet guns against the people of Kashmir.
They said a curfew had been imposed in Kashmir and all schools were closed for the last two months. As many as 7,000 people have been arrested during this period.
They said protesting Kashmiris were arrested and shifted to other parts of India as jails in Kashmir lacked space.
The officials said the only solution to the Kashmir issue was through the United Nations resolutions and in this regard Pakistan had launched a campaign in the world.
For the first time, they said, India had been criticised by US senators, Congress leaders and others.
Giving details about government’s efforts, they said the prime minister met many world leaders and the foreign minister through letters informed them about Kashmir’s situation before arrival of the prime minister in the United Nations.
In reply to a question by the chairman as to why the government did not table a resolution in the Human Rights Council of the United Nations if it had support of 58 countries, the officials said it was not a suitable time to table the resolution and there were also some technical issues so Pakistan adopted the option of giving a general statement.
On this, the committee chairman said the government wasted the opportunity to get a resolution passed in the council.
“Had the resolution been passed in the council, India would be in an awkward position,” he said.
FIA officials questioned
Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) acting director general Majeebur Rehman briefed the committee on the prosecution of journalist Shahzaib Jillani and said after the investigation most of the charges were deleted by the FIA and the challan was forwarded to court which also deleted the remaining charge.
In reply to a query, the official said there were more than 45,000 cybercrime cases pending with the FIA.
“If the government enhances the cybercrime wing’s capacity it will clear all the cases as soon as possible,” he said.
The committee recommended that the abuse of sections 20 and 37 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ac 2016 shall be prevented.
The committee also recommended that the agency shall submit a half yearly report to both houses of parliament.
The members grilled the FIA officials and said the agency created terror among the citizens while issuing notices on complaints without any proof.
The chairman said the government organisation took notice on statements of politicians and journalists under cybercrime which was a violation of human rights.
“Faisal Raza Abidi became victim of this. Cases were initiated against some journalists after they uploaded pictures of s Saudi journalist after his murder,” he said.
The committee decided to take up media censorship, especially after the PTI came to power, and safety of journalists at its next meeting.
Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2019