Monday, November 13, 2017
Pakistan - Farhatullah Babar says commission on enforced disappearances failed to fix responsibility
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Senator Farhatullah Babar has said that during the past six years the commission on enforced disappearances had failed in fixing responsibility.
A meeting of human rights committee of the Senate was held on Monday to discuss the situation of missing persons, persecution and target killings of Hazaras and other human rights issues.
In a statement issued following the meeting, Senator Babar called for making the report of the commission — that worked under late Justice Mansoor Kamal for only one year in 2010— public.
Chaired by Senator Nasreen Jalil the meeting was attended by senators Sitara Ayaz, Dr Jahanzeb Jamaldini, Mir Kabir Shahi, Mufti Abdul Sattar and Farhatullah Babar.
Babar said complete information about the prisoners in 45 internment centre must be placed before the Senate committee so that it could proceed further in the matter. He further that those who had returned homes be encouraged to disclose before the committee with assurances of protection and confidentiality.
Alluding towards the disappearances during the reign of retired general Musharraf, he said the former military dictator had claimed in his biography that his government had captured 689 militants and handed over 369 to the US without trial for bounties totaling millions of dollars.
Musharraf’s show off about these disappearances and getting away with it had set a precedent and now some elements might think that they could get away with this impunity, he said, adding parliament should be informed about the details of those handed over by Musharraf to foreign countries without trial.
A fellowship at Harvard University to honour Benazir Bhutto which was announced earlier is now accepting applications.
The fellowship has been established by ClassACT (Class Achieving Change Together, www.classacthr73.org), which is an organisation created by members of the Harvard-Radcliffe (HR) Class of 1973 who were classmates of the late twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan.
The program is housed at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). It aims to educate and support mid-career leaders particularly from the Middle East and South Asia, ClassACT shared on their website.
Titled the HKS ClassACT HR 1973 Graduate Leadership Program Fellowship in Honour of Benazir Bhutto, the fellowship will support those accepted into the Edward S Mason Program at HKS.
The HKS has started accepting applications to the Mason Program for the first year of the fellowship.
The advisory board of the fellowship includes Sanam Bhutto, sister of late Benazir Bhutto.
“In college, we were privileged to have Benazir Bhutto, who was to become the first woman to lead a predominantly Muslim country, as a classmate,” said Marion Dry, Co-Chair of ClassACT and Director of the Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program.
“The world needs, more than ever, the kind of leadership that Benazir’s principles inspire,” she further maintained.
Classmate Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former Lieutenant Governor of the state of Maryland commented, “Benazir arrived at Harvard as a 16-year-old with verve, energy, curiosity and enormous determination. She inspired us with her courage in the face of tragedy, integrity where corruption was rampant, and focus when so many forces could lead to dissipation. We are eager to carry her spirit in our hearts and her legacy at our alma mater”
Jamshed Kazi, Country Representative of UN Women Pakistan and a Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School said, “Benazir Bhutto has been an iconic and inspirational figure for many women — as well as plenty of men like myself
“Bhutto worked against considerable odds to promote democratic principles and boost gender equality initiatives in a patriarchal setting. The launch of the Benazir Bhutto Fellowship is a fitting tribute to her legacy,” he added.
ClassACT is founded on the premise that “it is not too late for us to change the world”. The organisation’s fundamental purpose is to bring together HR73 classmates to address important local, national, and international problems by creating and supporting positive change.
IT is a case of immense tragedy in its contours, and fairly anomalous in the details. On Sept 4, in the populated area of Landi Kotal in Khyber Agency, about five to six kilometres from the Afghan border, a group of 18 young men were at a popular picnic spot near a mountain stream. Their party was raided by a cohort of over a dozen armed men, apparently from Afghanistan, who kidnapped the entire group and took the men across the border into Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. One of the abductees, a watchman, managed to escape since he was familiar with the area. It is from him that we have what scant details there are.
However, it has been confirmed that the men are indeed in Afghanistan; the local political administration arranged for a six-member delegation comprising mainly the victims’ families to travel there for negotiations. The initial ransom demand was Rs50m, which was later reduced to Rs10m. But the latter amount remains too much for the villagers to raise, and thus, over a month later, the 17 men are still missing.
In the wake of such kidnappings are left broken families, young wives and aged parents who can only hope and pray for the safety of the abducted men. The latter, in many cases, were the sole breadwinners of their families, raising modest earnings through small-time businesses. Thus, financial catastrophe looms as well. And yet, the only state intervention has been in the travel arrangements to Nangarhar. Do the authorities simply not care about the fate of missing Pakistani citizens? Can a conversation not be opened up through diplomatic channels? Further, it is worth pondering that the site of the kidnapping is close to the well-manned Torkham border crossing. That an armed posse can swoop down and abduct 17 people must raise questions about the state of security. These issues notwithstanding, it is the fate of the abductees that must be made a priority.