16 Afghan children imprisoned for illegally entering Pakistan 

An Afghan child at a madrasa sits among shadows cast by other students who try to prevent journalists from taking pictures, in Quetta on November 12, 2001. (AFP/File)
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Updated 28 November 2020

16 Afghan children imprisoned for illegally entering Pakistan 

  • Sindh’s human rights adviser has sought to quash the cases and deport the children to Afghanistan 
  • Five adult men were arrested alongside the children while entering Sindh province, police says

KARACHI: Since earlier this month, 16 Afghan children-- some as young as seven years old-- have been in jail in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province for illegally entering the country, according to the provincial human rights adviser, Veerji Kohli, who is advocating for their release and deportation.

The group of children, alongside five adult men that police says are their relatives, were arrested by paramilitary rangers on Nov. 21 as they attempted to enter Sindh from eastern Punjab province. They did not have any legal documents on them and were handed over to police in Kashmore for legal proceedings. 

“These are minors who have not committed the offense on their own,” Kohli told Arab News on Saturday.

“The court trial takes a long time, that’s why I requested Chief Minister Sindh to direct the law department to quash their case so that the children may be returned to their parents in Afghanistan,” he said.

The five adults should be tried for the offense, he added.

In a letter to Sindh’s Chief Minister dated Nov. 26, Kohli said he had seen on a visit of Sukkur prisons that 16 minor children that he presumes are between the ages of 7 and 14 years, were detained in a juvenile jail-- the Youthful Offender Industrial School Sukkur-- and charged under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act. 




Letter to Sindh’s Chief Minister dated Nov. 26, 2020. 

“When enquired it was learned that these children belong to Afghanistan and they illegally crossed the border, that is a crime but otherwise as per the police investigation, they are not involved/ wanted in any other crime,” the letter said.

Sindh’s Inspector General of Prisons, Kazi Nazir Ahmed, told Arab News that the children were “otherwise comfortable” but could only speak Dari, a dialect of Persian spoken in Afghanistan.

“They are otherwise comfortable but they can’t communicate with the staff there,” Ahmed said.

“They want to go back home soon. We’ll try to keep them in the best possible manner.”

Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) Kashmore, Amjad Ahmed Sheikh, told Arab News that the group was trying to reach Karachi when they were arrested.

“When interrogated, they admitted before police that they had entered Pakistan without any legal traveling documents but said they wanted to go to Karachi because the law and order and financial condition in their home country was awful,” Sheikh said.

He said the adult men accompanying the children were their relatives and no woman was accompanying the group.

“They are all relatives and members of an extended family who wanted to settle in Sindh for a better life,” the police officer said. 

No documentary proof is available with the police to verify this account.

In another case in August this year, 10 Afghan children were smuggled to Pakistan to be enrolled into religious schools in the country’s northwest. Last month, the children were returned to their homes with the help of the Afghan consulate in Peshawar. 

The Chief Minister has not yet initiated the process for the release and deportation of the 16 children jailed in Sukkur, but Kohli said the process would soon begin.

Kohli said both the Sindh law department and federal ministry of interior would have to initiate the process to quash the cases. 

“These are minor children and don’t deserve to be in jail any longer,” he said. 

 
 


South Africa Tests mark ‘monumental moment’ for Pakistan cricket 

Updated 7 min 10 sec ago

South Africa Tests mark ‘monumental moment’ for Pakistan cricket 

  • A tight security cordon has been thrown around the venue 
  • Foreign teams refused to tour Pakistan on security fears, following a terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team's bus in Lahore in 2009 

KARACHI: South Africa will play their first Test in Pakistan for 14 years this week, a match being described as a "monumental moment" for the revival of international cricket in the country.
The match in the port city of Karachi starting Tuesday marks a significant vote of confidence for Pakistan where international cricket was suspended following a terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team's bus in Lahore in 2009.
Foreign teams refused to tour the terror-hit country on security fears and it was only in the last six years that Pakistan hosted limited-over series before Test cricket was revived for the first time in a decade with the visit of Sri Lanka in December 2019.
A tight security cordon has been thrown around the venue and Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Wasim Khan said South Africa's visit was significant.
"These are very exciting times for fans and supporters," said Khan.
"I would say that it's a monumental moment that South Africa is here after 14 years and everybody is looking forward to the matches."
England have also agreed to play two Twenty20s in October on their first trip to Pakistan since 2005, to be followed by New Zealand and the West Indies for white-ball series.
If all go untroubled, then Australia will arrive for Tests and one-day matches next year, having not toured Pakistan since 1998.
"We have an exciting year ahead of us as our efforts are bearing fruit," said Khan, a former England county player and ex-chief executive of Leicestershire.
On the field a dominant South Africa -- having won 15 of the 26 Tests between the two teams with four losses and seven draws -- will take on a new-look Pakistan with Babar Azam making his Test captaincy debut.
It will be a dream come true for Azam, who was a ball boy during South Africa's last tour in 2007, but he faces a task to lift Pakistan after being swept 2-0 in Tests in New Zealand in the past month.
Azam is back to full fitness after missing the New Zealand tour with a fractured thumb and leads an inexperienced 20-man squad with nine players yet to play a Test.
One of the uncapped spinners, Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan, is expected to win their first cap partnering seasoned leg-spinner Yasir Shah.
South Africa captain Quinton De Kock, whose team blanked Sri Lanka 2-0 at home in their recent series, said he expects spin to be a big factor.
"Those selections say a lot about where they want to go and how they want to prepare these wickets," said De Kock, who has left-armer Keshav Maharaj as his frontline spinner.
De Kock cautioned that none of his squad have played in Pakistan before.
"Our biggest challenge would be the conditions that we could face because they are unknown to us," he said.
Head coach Mark Boucher did tour Pakistan as a player three times -- 1997, 2003 and 2007.
"I think Mark Boucher and one or two other guys who have played here would keep us updated and guide us," said De Kock.
The second Test is in Rawalpindi from February 4-8 followed by three Twenty20 internationals in Lahore on February 11, 13 and 14.
The coronavirus pandemic means all the matches will be played without fans in attendance.