Update: Pakistani woman detained in China for 3 months deported

UPDATE to the blogpost HRCP urges PM’s action over Pakistani women detained in Afghanistan, China:



We have received information that Ms. Zalkaf Begum, who had been in detention in China for three months after losing her passport and overstaying her visa duration and who remained still in prison after an emergency passport was issued to her because she was unable to pay for her return to Pakistan, has been deported back to Pakistan by the Chinese Authorities.


The costs of air ticket and miscellaneous having been borne by the Chinese Authorities and not the Pakistan government. The Pakistani consulate had declared that it had no funds for the air ticket.


According to the information, Zalkaf Begum has requested a low profile and does not wish the issue to be ‘exaggerated’ so that her privacy, and that of her family, may be protected.

Edhi records dumping of an average of 30 babies a month – DT

A news report in Daily Times, about the work of EDHI welfare foundation, reveals shocking data that  states that on an average 30 babies are dumped in the garbage each month in Pakistan.


Daily Times: 30 babies dumped in the garbage each month

By Irfan Aligi


KARACHI: The Edhi Welfare Trust (EWT) has collected an astonishing 17,000 living infants over 38 years from ‘katchra kundis’ (garbage dumps) of which 98 percent are girls and only two percent are boys. The number of dead babies found at these dumps over the same time period is fourfold, 68,000, while on average, 30 infants are rescued each month by the EWT from all over Pakistan, informed Abdul Sattar Edhi, renowned human rights activist and Chief Trustee of the EWT, while talking to Daily Times.


The most discarded babies are found in Karachi with Nazimabad, North Karachi and Baldia Town being the most popular sites for this gross disrespect of life, he noted, adding that it is obvious that people discard a girl infant as they cannot afford to raise her with low prospects of employment. What is even more bewildering, he said, is that some parents choose to cut the throat of their new born.


An astounding number of infants are found with their throats slit or who have been smothered to death, he noted. “No crime can surpass this act of brutality and inhumanity. People do not fear Allah when they kill a defenseless and innocent infant like a wild animal.


“I have always appealed to people who give birth to girls, whether illegitimate or legitimate, and do not want to keep them due to poverty, to drop their unwanted child in the cradle placed outside the main gate of EWT in Kharadar, but we still find discarded babies, alive and dead, everywhere,” he regretted. “Allah has ordained in the Holy Quran to not kill infants for fear of a lack of food because it is He who provides food to all creatures, but unfortunately, I know some clerics who say that it is okay to kill such infants,” remarked Edhi.


A positive is that the number of couples willing to adopt infants from the EWT is growing. The adopting couples are monitored for five years, to check the fostering conditions of an adopted child. Thankfully, hundreds of adopted infants are now serving the country after becoming doctors, engineers, teachers and scientists, noted Edhi.


Faisal Edhi, Edhi Welfare Trust Trustee, told Daily Times that despite all the modernization and the commotion about civil and human rights these day, the fate of a lot of newborn girls is the same as it was as was 1,500 years ago when in Arabia, newborn girls were buried alive because of poverty or the dishonour they brought the family. He also thanked the Pakistanis who continue to support the EWT in their noble mission of saving innocent lives and giving them a future.

Police book whole town on religious grounds

The Police Station Chenab Nagar – a place also known as Rabwah – in district Jhang of the Punjab province, in a outlandish move, lodged a First Information Report (FIR) against thousands of members of Ahmadiyya community residing in the town under Section 285, 298C, and 337H2 of Pakistan Penal Code. The police booked the whole town on religious grounds.    


The action has been taken to stop continuously mounting pressure of certain local and provincial Islamic clerics which police has termed a “reaction” of the Muslims on the 100-year celebrations of caliph-ship by the Ahmadiyya community, a religious school of thought declared a minority in Pakistan in September 1974.


The FIR was lodged on June 8, 2008, a couple of weeks after the official celebrations of the community were held across the country, especially in Rabwah, the central headquarters of the community in Pakistan, on May 27 and 28, 2008.


The FIR lodged on the basis of a “secret report” of local police, does not show the exact figure of the persons alleged of the crime except saying “every person of every locality of the community was seen involved in these celebrations with fire works, lighting their places, and greeting each other (which is amounted to preaching of their faith, a crime according to a controversial law of the country).”


The FIR stated, “The community members were also seen in a joyous mode and wearing colourful caps and displaying badges with religious slogans.” Hence the FIR was lodged under PPC Section 285 (with up to six months imprisonment and Rs 3,000 fine); Section 298C (Anti-Ahmadiyya law with up to three years imprisonment and also liable to fine); and 337H2 (with up to three months imprisonment and fine).


Mr. Saleem U Din (spokesperson of the Ahmadiyya Community) said this was not the first time that such case had been lodged. According to the available record, in 1989, when the community celebrated the 100th year of the foundation of the school of thought, a similar police case was lodged against the whole town and community. This may be a pressure tactic to control the situation on both sides – Islamic clerics and the minority community members. The police cases lodged against both communities had mainly been based on religious, social or political grounds. There are clear signs of victimization but the police registered the cases due to immense pressures.



Nadeem Anthony


HRCP urges PM’s action over Pakistani women detained in Afghanistan, China

Press Release, 9 July 2008


Lahore: The Human Rights Commission Pakistan (HRCP) has called upon the prime minister to intervene on behalf of two Pakistani women, one detained in China and the other at the US-run Bagram airbase detention centre in Afghanistan.


No one has seen the Pakistani woman detained at Bagram for the last four years, but a number of former prisoners at Bagram have confirmed a Pakistani woman prisoner at Bagram and claimed hearing her screams.


Reportedly registered as prisoner number 650, her state of mind or the extent of abuse or torture she has suffered remains unknown.


The government must use its status as a leading US ally in the so-called war on terror to get details about the detained woman from Washington and ensure that her illegal detention ends without delay, and she is brought to Pakistan as soon as possible.


The other woman, Ms. Zalkaf Begum, a resident of village Sahoke, Tehsil Nowshera Virkan, district Gujranwala, has been in detention in China for three months after losing her passport and overstaying her visa duration.


Her case was brought to the attention of Pakistan’s Consulate in Beijing, which took almost two months to issue an emergency passport for her deportation to Pakistan.


She does not have the financial means to pay for her travel back to Pakistan. The Chinese authorities will not pay for the cost of deportation and will continue to detain her until someone pays for the air ticket. The Pakistani Consulate advises that it has no funds for the air ticket. Ms. Zalkaf is in poor health.


It is the responsibility of Pakistan missions to assist the country’s citizens who find themselves in trouble in a foreign country. Funds must be released immediately so that she can be repatriated to Pakistan at the earliest.


A civilized country shall never abandon its citizens or allow them to be treated in this manner. The government must act decisively to ensure that the rights of Pakistani citizens detained abroad are duly respected.

Asma Jahangir, Chairperson

Iqbal Haider, Co-chairperson

HRCP to govt: Protect, not detain, journalists

Press Release, 8 July 2008


Lahore: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has demanded the government ensure immediate safety measures for journalists, especially those working in the tribal areas, allowing them to work without fear or intimidation from state agents or non-state actors.


Following the abduction by Taliban of two journalists on Friday, their release later the same day, their immediate detention by the Mohmand Agency political authorities and eventual release on Monday night, an HRCP statement said: The reported detention of journalists Zubair Shah and Akhtar Soomro by the political authorities in Mohmand after their release by the Taliban demonstrates the significant hurdles journalists face at the hands of extremists and government agents alike.


Instead of adding to the difficulties journalists already face in performing their duties in the tribal areas, the government must ensure the security of life to journalists from Taliban and other extremists, and prevent state agents from harassing or abducting them.


The life and security of all citizens is the government’s responsibility, more so of journalists, especially in the tribal areas because they ensure that information about those areas does get to the people. The government must surely be aware of the consequences if such information becomes unavailable.


HRCP also calls upon foreign journalists and media teams visiting Pakistan for reporting on the situation in the tribal areas not to jeopardise the safety of local journalists working for them.


In view of the volatile security situation, journalists should also consider their personal safety before agreeing to work as stingers or “fixers” in the tribal areas.


Iqbal Haider, Co-chairperson