Pakistan moves to pass enforced disappearances’ law but activists skeptical of will to implement

Nasrullah Baloch, center bottom, leader of the Voice of Baluch Missing Persons, speaks while people hold placards and portraits of their missing family members during a press conference in Islamabad on February 20, 2021. (AP)
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Updated 31 August 2021
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Pakistan moves to pass enforced disappearances’ law but activists skeptical of will to implement

  • Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces have long been plagued by enforced disappearances
  • Last week, National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior unanimously adopted proposed bill on enforced disappearances

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said on Monday her government was moving ahead to criminalize enforced disappearances but rights activists said they were skeptical whether the government would be able to implement a new proposed law on the subject.
The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance defines “enforced disappearance” as “the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.”
Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and southwestern Balochistan provinces have long been plagued by enforced disappearances. Families say men are picked up by security forces, disappear often for years, and are sometimes found dead, with no official explanation. Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies deny they carry out enforced disappearances.
This March, Prime Minister Imran Khan met a three-member delegation representing the families of missing persons who had staged a sit-in in Islamabad in February. At the meeting, Khan reiterated that a bill to criminalize enforced disappearances would be “fast tracked along with whatever other laws needed to be amended.”

Khan’s government introduced the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the National Assembly (NA) in June, proposing amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) of 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1898 with new sections related to enforced disappearances.
Last week, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior unanimously adopted the proposed bill.
“There can never be any place for enforced disappearances in a democracy,” human rights minister Dr. Shireen Mazari said in a tweet on Monday, adding that the bill had been drafted in consultation with all stakeholders and no one objected to it in the National assembly or during the standing committee meeting.

The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 states that a new section 52-B (enforced disappearance) should be inserted into PPC after section 52-A, the Express Tribune reported.
The bill stipulates that three requisite elements define enforced disappearance: one, an unlawful or illegal deprivation of liberty or a deprivation of liberty that was legal but no longer is an act allegedly carried out by agents of the state or by person or group of persons acting with the support; two, authorization or acquiescence of the state; and three, a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person.
The draft states that “whoever commits, orders, solicits or induces the commission of attempts to commit, is an accomplice to or participation in the forcible or involuntary disappearances of a person or group of persons is said to cause forcible or involuntary disappearances of that person” and falls within 512 (forcible or involuntary disappearances). Section 513 — punishment for forcible or involuntary disappearances — states “whoever causes forcible or involuntary disappearance of any person from Pakistan or within Pakistan shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to a fine.”
While rights activists in Pakistan welcome the introduction of a new law on enforced disappearances, they expressed doubts about the government’s willingness and ability to implement the legislation in its true spirit.
Naghma Iqtedar Shiekh, a human rights activist based in Karachi, said the legislation was a “welcome step.”
“There is indeed a sense of impunity within a section of the state that must be addressed on an immediate basis,” she said, but questioned if the state was actually “ready to watch the watchers?” 
Referring to past cases of disappearances, she said “even with all the paperwork and investigative procedures, the bull wasn’t taken by its horns”: “The law may get passed but will it work in its true letter and spirit – that remains to be seen.”
Ammar Rashid, an Islamabad-based political and rights activist, said he supported the bill but was skeptical of the government’s intentions to implement it.
“As far as the bill is concerned, we support the passage of the bill, we have been demanding this for years,” Rashid told Arab News. “The good part is that the practice of enforced disappearance is being criminalized.”
But speaking of weaknesses in the bill, Rashid said the penalty for enforced disappearances must be increased from 10 years to 20-30 years imprisonment.
“Also, the bill doesn’t say anything about compensation,” he said, referring to families and children whose education and livelihoods had been destroyed by their family member’s disappearance: “How is the state planning to compensate them?“
Ultimately, Rashid said, the challenge would be enforcement, for which institutions would have to be adequately empowered.
But despite the concerns of rights activists, Mazari said the government was serious about taking action and had already displayed its sincerity and will.
“PM Imran Khan met Baloch families of disappeared who gave their list of missing family members — some have since returned home while others [are] being traced,” she said in a tweet, saying she couldn’t recall a PM in any previous government who had even recognized the issue let alone met with families of the missing.


Government accuses ex-PM Khan party of sponsoring resolutions in US to halt Pakistan military aid

Updated 16 June 2024
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Government accuses ex-PM Khan party of sponsoring resolutions in US to halt Pakistan military aid

  • Spokesman says Khan’s party began a ‘concentrated smear campaign’ against Pakistan in foreign countries following his ouster in 2022
  • The House Rules committee declared the resolutions against the facts and set them aside after Foreign Office intervention, Aqeel Malik adds

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government on Sunday accused former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party of hiring lobbyist firms in the United States (US) to move resolutions in the Congress that sought to halt Pakistan’s military aid.
The PTI began a “concentrated smear campaign” against Pakistan in foreign countries after the ouster of Khan in a parliamentary no-trust vote in 2022, according to Aqeel Malik, a Pakistani government spokesman.
The resolutions tabled last year urged Washington to limit US military assistance to Pakistan until the South Asian country ensured free and fair elections, and independent judiciary and reasserted separation of powers.
Speaking at a press conference, Malik said these resolutions had been sponsored by Khan’s party to promote “anti-Pakistan agenda and narrative,” but the US House of Representatives rejected them.
“In the amendments submitted, they [PTI] said that Pakistan’s security and other assistance should be stopped and requested the secretary of state to submit a report in which human rights violations in Pakistan, other assessments and any irregularities should also be reported,” he said.
“Our Foreign Office had this campaign neutralized, set aside and defeated it. These three amendments were dropped because the House Rules committee declared them against the facts.”
He criticized the PTI for shaping an anti-US narrative in Pakistan following the ouster of Khan from the PM’s office and yet hiring lobbyist firms to promote “anti-Pakistan agenda and narrative” in the US.
In a post on X, the PTI said Congressman Ro Khanna’s call for the US to sanction Pakistan’s army chief, Asim Munir, and other military leaders over transnational repression marked a “crucial turning point.”
“The international community can no longer ignore the blatant human rights abuses and systemic corruption that plague Pakistan. The recent rigged election, with Imran Khan still unjustly imprisoned, is a testament to the military’s stranglehold on the country,” it said.
In the last several months, the PTI has sought support from US lawmakers in investigating alleged rights abuses and crackdown on its supporters in the wake of Khan’s unprecedented campaign of defiance against Pakistan’s powerful military.
In May 2023, 65 congressmen wrote a letter to the US Secretary of Defense to prioritize the promotion of protection of human rights and democracy in Pakistan, according to Malik.
Eleven congressmen wrote a letter to US Secretary of State in November last year to suspend US assistance to Pakistan, while 31 others wrote to the US secretary of state and the president to not recognize the Pakistani government formed after February 2024 election.
Khan’s PTI was severely hamstrung ahead of the February 8 polls, with rallies banned, its party symbol taken away, and dozens of its candidates rejected from eligibility to stand. Arguably Pakistan’s most popular politician, Khan, who has been in jail since last August, says all cases against him are politically motivated to keep him out of politics.


Pakistan’s Sindh government teams up with local NGO to provide artificial limb to camel after leg amputation

Updated 16 June 2024
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Pakistan’s Sindh government teams up with local NGO to provide artificial limb to camel after leg amputation

  • A landlord in Sindh’s Sanghar district allegedly chopped off the camel’s leg after it trespassed on his field
  • Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon confirms five people have been arrested for involvement in crime

ISLAMABAD: The government in Pakistan’s Sindh province has been working closely with a local non-government organization (NGO) for the treatment and rehabilitation of a camel, whose leg was chopped off by a local landlord this week, an official of the NGO taking care of the animal said on Sunday.
The development came after local media widely reported that a landlord in Mund Jamrao village in Sindh’s Sanghar district had allegedly chopped off the camel’s leg for trespassing on his field seeking fodder.
The owner of the camel, a poor peasant named Soomar Behan, was contacted by police after the episode went viral on social media, but he refused to file a complaint against the landlord following which police took action.
Five people have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the crime, with Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon confirming that a case had been registered against the suspects for amputating the camel on the state’s behalf.
On Saturday, CDRS Benji, a non-profit working for stray and injured animals in Pakistan, provided treatment to the camel at one of its shelters in the provincial capital of Karachi.
“The Sindh government has been working closely with the CDRS Benji project for the treatment and rehabilitation of the camel,” Sarah Jahangir, a CDRS Benji director, told Arab News.
“They [Sindh government] have brought in a team from BIONIKS Pakistan to prepare an artificial limb.”
She said the 8-month-old female camel was in acute pain and everyone was coming together to help the camel because the prosthetic would take time as it needed around two months for the wound to heal before proper measurements could be taken.
“We are trying to heal her infection and soothe her pain with heavy painkillers, antibiotics and other medications,” Jahangir added.
Anas Niaz, cofounder of Pakistan’s BIONIKS biotechnology startup, said his organization was trying to make the limb for the camel.
“We are working on the limb for the camel as right now it needed to heal, which will take around 1-2 months time and after that rehabilitation of the camel will start,” he told Arab News.
“As the camel will need replacement from time to time, this will be an ongoing process that we are actively managing.”
BIONIKS said it was dedicated to the well-being of the camel in need and its team, led by co-founder and CEO Ovais Hussain Qureshi, visited the camel’s shelter in Karachi to assess its condition and provide assistance. 
“We are working tirelessly to ensure the affected camel’s mobility and comfort until its wounds are fully healed,” it said. “Our efforts aim to alleviate the affected camel’s suffering and promote its recovery, demonstrating our unwavering dedication to the animal.”
Section 429 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) states that anyone who kills, poisons, maims, or renders useless any animal of the value of ten rupees or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment of either a term of up to two years or be fined for the offense, or both.
Sindh Information Minister Memon earlier confirmed the registration of a case against the suspects, describing the amputation as a “humanely unacceptable” act.
“While the police is still doing its work, proper medical treatment is being provided to the poor animal,” Shazia Ata Marri, a Pakistani lawmaker from Sanghar, wrote on X.
CDRS Benji said its staff had cleaned the camel’s wound to make sure it was not infected.
“Cammie the camel is settling into her new home,” the NGO wrote on Facebook with a video showing the camel feeding, a white bandage wrapped around her leg.
“She is in pain, and it was traumatizing for her to be carried into the shelter. But she is eating now and taking in everything around her with those beautiful, intelligent eyes.”


Pakistan PM conveys Eid Al-Adha greetings to Bahrain’s king, other Muslim rulers

Updated 16 June 2024
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Pakistan PM conveys Eid Al-Adha greetings to Bahrain’s king, other Muslim rulers

  • Eid Al-Adha marks Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son on God’s command
  • The three-day event is one of the two major Muslim festivals on the Islamic calendar

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday conveyed Eid Al-Adha greetings to Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa and other Muslim rulers.
Several Muslim countries, mainly in the Middle East, marked the three-day Eid Al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, on Sunday, while others will celebrate the occasion on Monday. It commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ismail, as recounted in the Holy Qur’an.
Sharif held a telephonic conversation with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa and exchanged warm greetings on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha, according to the Pakistan PM’s office.
“The two leaders expressed their mutual respect and admiration for the strong historical ties between Pakistan and Bahrain, built on shared values and cultural affinities,” it said in a statement.
“The Prime Minister acknowledged and appreciated Bahrain’s support and cooperation in various fields over the years. In particular, he thanked His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa for his respect and affection toward Pakistan.”
The three-day festival of Eid Al-Adha is one of the two most important festivals on the Islamic calendar. Muslims celebrate the occasion by slaughtering animals such as cattle and goats and share their meat among family and friends and the poor.
In his telephonic conversation with Tajikistan’s president, Sharif and Emomali Rahmon greeted each other on Eid and expressed their wishes for peace, prosperity, and development of both countries.
“The two leaders also expressed satisfaction at the positive trajectory of bilateral relations and reaffirmed their shared desire to enhance ties in through trade, energy, and connectivity,” Sharif’s office said.
“Both leaders also discussed the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit in Astana and reiterated their commitment to strengthen mutually beneficial regional integration and cooperation.”
During another phone call, Sharif and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev exchanged Eid wishes and reviewed recent developments in bilateral relations, especially in the domain of trade, defense and energy.
“They expressed satisfaction on the positive trajectory of relations and agreed to continue working closely to further strengthen bilateral ties to match the political goodwill that exists between both countries,” Sharif’s office said in a statement.
“In addition, they also discussed ways to deal with common challenges, especially climate change. The Prime Minister congratulated Azerbaijan for hosting the COP29 in Baku later this year and thanked President Aliyev for extending a personal invitation to him to participate in the event.”
Sharif also spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and conveyed his best wishes to him on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha.
“They reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in various fields, including trade, investment, defense, and tourism,” Sharif’s office said.
“The Prime Minister and the President also discussed ways to promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and beyond.”


Pakistani Taliban announce three-day ceasefire with government on Eid Al-Adha

Updated 16 June 2024
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Pakistani Taliban announce three-day ceasefire with government on Eid Al-Adha

  • The Pakistani Taliban, or the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), are a separate group but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban
  • In recent months, TTP has claimed a number of attacks mainly in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province that borders Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani Taliban on Sunday announced a three-day ceasefire with the government in Islamabad on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha, amid a renewed surge in militant violence in the South Asian country.
The Pakistani Taliban, or the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), are a separate group but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban. They have been emboldened since the Afghan Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in 2021.
In recent months, the Pakistani Taliban have claimed a number of attacks and are suspected by officials in several others, mainly in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province that borders Afghanistan.
In its statement, the TTP said its leader, Mufti Abu Mansoor Asim, announced the ceasefire on June 17-19, which correspond with the three-day Eid festival, on the “demand of the Pakistani people.”
“Therefore, all institutions and Mujahideen of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan should obey the above orders,” the group said in a statement. “If an action is taken by the [Pakistani] army and security agencies on this occasion, then all Mujahideen should ensure their self-defense.”
Similarly, the group said, its leader had issued a decree to reduce the sentences of all “prisoners” held by the TTP by two months.
Pakistan has witnessed a spike in militant violence in its two western provinces, KP and Balochistan, since the Pakistani Taliban called off their fragile, months-long truce with the government in November 2022.
Pakistan says Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers are giving shelter to TTP fighters across the unruly border. The Afghan Taliban government insists it doesn’t allow anyone to use Afghan soil for violence in any country.


T20 World Cup: Babar delivers captain’s knock as Pakistan bow out with win over Ireland

Updated 7 min 56 sec ago
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T20 World Cup: Babar delivers captain’s knock as Pakistan bow out with win over Ireland

  • Ireland had recovered from a poor start to make 106-9 with Gareth Delany making 31 runs off 19 balls
  • Shaheen Afridi took three wickets and then hit two sixes as Pakistan ended a disappointing tournament

LAUDERHILL: Pakistan skipper Babar Azam guided his team to victory over Ireland on Sunday, with an unbeaten 32, in their final game at the T20 World Cup, avoiding another embarrassing loss for his already eliminated side.
Shaheen Shah Afridi took three wickets and then hit two sixes to win the game as Pakistan ended a disappointing tournament with a three-wicket win at Central Broward Stadium.
Ireland had recovered from a poor start to make 106-9 with Gareth Delany making 31 off 19 balls and although Pakistan wobbled at 62-6, captain Babar’s 32 off 34 balls steadied the ship and avoided another defeat.
Pakistan’s shock defeat to the USA and loss to India meant they were eliminated from second-round contention before Sunday’s final Group A game in Florida.
After the first three games at the South Florida venue were all abandoned because heavy rains caused a waterlogged outfield, the overwhelmingly pro-Pakistan crowd were rewarded with some top class opening bowling.
Left-arm seamer Shaheen Shah Afridi (3-22) did the bulk of the damage picking up three early wickets as Ireland’s top order was ripped apart.

Pakistan’s Shaheen Shah Afridi celebrates the wicket of Ireland’s Andrew Balbirnie during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup cricket match between Ireland and Pakistan at the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida on June 16, 2024. (AP)

The Irish, who have not been able to practice for the past week due to wet facilities, were in deep trouble at 32-6 with seamer Mohammad Amir also picking up two wickets on a surface that was offering plenty for the quick bowlers.
Delany provided some much needed resistance for the Irish, blasting three sixes as he made 31 from 19 balls.
Delany’s entertaining knock — and a 44 run partnership with Mark Adair — came to an end when Imad Wasim’s slow left-arm spin found the edge and Shabad Khan ran in from point to make the catch.
Adair tried to keep the momentum going but he departed for 15 when he slogged Imad to long on and Afridi held on to the catch despite Usman Khan colliding with him.
All-rounder Imad picked up his third wicket by bowling Barry McCarthy but Josh Little provided some valuable lower order runs with his unbeaten 22 taking Ireland to three figures.

Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir, back to the camera, celebrates with teammates the wicket of Ireland’s George Dockrell during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup cricket match between Ireland and Pakistan at the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida, Sunday, June 16, 2024. (AP)

McCarthy, who finished with figures of 3-15, gave Ireland some hope with a lively opening spell, picking up the wickets of Mohammad Rizwan (17) and removing Usman Khan and Shabad Khan cheaply.
When Curtis Campher dismissed Imad Wasim, whose cut shot to point was well held by Harry Tector, Pakistan looked in danger of another upset at 62-6.
But a 33 run seventh wicket partnership between Babar Azam and Abbas Afridi steadied the innings and Shaheen Shah Afridi’s two big heaves over mid-wicket ensured victory with seven balls to spare.
“Let’s see, what team needs, I’ll be okay with it. We have a good bunch of players, we’ve to go home, chat and see where we lacked, and then come back. Couldn’t finish off close games, as a team we weren’t good as a team,” said Babar.
The win meant that Pakistan finished third in the group and Ireland ended bottom with a solitary point from their washed-out game against the USA.