Pakistan PM vows to reunite all ‘missing persons’ with relatives

Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (C) addresses the members of the media in Islamabad, Pakistan, on April 5, 2022. (AFP/File)
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Updated 10 September 2022

Pakistan PM vows to reunite all ‘missing persons’ with relatives

  • Prime Minister Sharif appeared before court in a case pertaining to six ‘missing’ people, including journalist Mudassar Naaru
  • 'Enforced disappearances' have been a divisive issue in Pakistan, where militants have waged war against the state for decades

QUETTA/ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday assured a court of making all efforts to recover all “missing persons” in the country and reunite them with their families.

Cases of “enforced disappearances” of citizens have for years been a divisive issue in Pakistan, where militants have waged war against the state for decades. Families say people picked up by security forces often disappear for years, and are sometimes found dead, with no official explanation. Pakistani security agencies deny involvement.

The federal government announced in May it was setting up a seven-member committee to make policy on the issue, a day after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) said former and current Pakistani rulers needed to explain their alleged “tacit approval” of such disappearances.

In July, the court ordered the premier to ensure production of six missing individuals, including journalist Mudassar Naaru, at the next hearing on September 9 in a case relating to enforced disappearances, warning failure to do so would require him to appear in person and give an explanation.

On Friday, the prime minister appeared before the court, along with Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar and Attorney-General Ashtar Ausaf, to explain his position.

“I won’t come up with any excuse. I’ll try my best [to recover all the missing persons] as I am answerable to the country’s courts,” PM Sharif said at Friday’s hearing of the case.

He told Chief Justice Athar Minallah that a cabinet committee had been constituted on the court’s directives that had so far held at least six meetings on the issue.

“I will personally supervise all meetings of the committee and will submit a report in the court,” the premier said. “This report will be based on facts and conclusive evidence.”

The chief justice remarked the committee had been constituted in the past too, but no practical step was taken to resolve the issue.

“Mr. Prime Minister, missing persons is a big issue, and the state has not been responding the way it should,” Chief Justice Minallah said. “This state has a constitution, and there should be a civil supremacy as per the constitution.”

The chief justice said enforced disappearances were the biggest form of torture and the court had no option but to inquire the administration about the issue, describing the practice as a “deviation from the constitution.”

“You are responsible for national security of this country. This court trusts you, and you should find out its solution,” the top judge told the PM.

The law minister later sought more time from the court, saying the issue had been prevailing for the last 20 years, yet they were putting in their best to resolve it.

“We have to introduce reforms in the criminal justice system and that’s why we need at least 8 to 10 weeks to complete work on it,” Law Minister Tarar said.

At this, the court adjourned the hearing till November 14.

On Thursday, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, who heads the committee on enforced disappearances, assured protesters in the southwestern Balochistan province the government was “serious” in resolving the issue in the coming days, after which families of missing people ended their sit-in in Quetta.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah (center) speaks to the families of 'missing persons' in Quetta, Balochistan, on September 8, 2022. (Balochistan Government)

“There are hundreds of missing persons in Balochistan but we have just shared the list of 50 people whose families were sitting in the red zone of Quetta for the last 50 days,” Saeeda Baloch, 18, one of the protesters who was part of the Quetta sit-in, told Arab News on Friday.

Baloch’s has been looking for her father who went missing in the southern port city of Karachi on April 10, 2021. Despite heavy rains, she said, dozens of women and children held the sit-in in hope of finding a clue of their loved ones.

Saeeda Hameed, one of the protesters at Quetta sit-in, hold a placard of her missing father on September 7, 2022. (@saeeda_hameed/Twitter)

Baloch said the committee on missing persons visited their camp, where the interior minister assured them in writing that the government would share details of the whereabouts of their loved ones in three months.

“On the directives of the Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, the committee has thoroughly negotiated with the families of missing persons,” Sanaullah told reporters in Quetta on Thursday.

“We have informed them regarding our serious efforts to address the missing persons issue in the better interest of Balochistan and Pakistan.”

The interior minister said they were thankful to the families of missing persons for calling off their protest.

At least 1,108 people were reported missing in Pakistan in 2021, according to the annual report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).

“There are two stakeholders in this most pestering issue of Pakistan. On one side, there are families of missing persons who blame the security agencies for abducting their loved ones and on the other side, there are the law enforcement agencies,” Sanaullah said.

“We have spoken with both sides, which can’t be aired on national media.”

The HRCP welcomed the meeting between the interior minister and families of forcibly disappeared persons, calling it a “positive development.”

“Still there is a need for concrete measures to resolve the matter of enforced disappearance and the perpetrators involved in violating human rights should be held responsible through a transparent and effective mechanism,” it added.

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

Updated 16 June 2024

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 18 min 18 sec ago

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

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

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.

Ireland recover to set Pakistan target of 107 in T20 World Cup

Updated 16 June 2024

Ireland recover to set Pakistan target of 107 in T20 World Cup

  • Both teams have already been eliminated from tournament with India and USA taking top two group spots
  • While nothing is at stake in the contest, Pakistan will be keen to finish above Canada in the third place

LAUDERHILL: T20 World Cup cricket was finally played in Florida on Sunday, at the fourth attempt, with Pakistan restricting Ireland to 106-9 in the final game in Group A.
The Irish had been struggling at 32-6 in the seventh over and will hope their seamers can also take advantage of help from the Lauderhill surface.
After the first three games at the 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 did the bulk of the damage picking up three early wickets as Ireland’s top order was ripped apart.
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.
But Gareth 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 bowling Barry McCarthy but Josh Little provided some valuable lower order runs with his unbeaten 22 taking Ireland to three figures.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam had won the toss and chose to bowl.
Both teams have already been eliminated from the tournament with India and the USA taking the top two group spots and places in the Super Eights stage.
While nothing is at stake in the contest, in terms of qualification, bottom-placed Ireland will be seeking their first win of the competition. Pakistan will be keen to finish above Canada in third place.