Cosmetic changes won’t resolve militancy: HRCP

Press Release, July 21, 2009

Lahore: While welcoming the return of the Malakand IDPs to their homes as a positive development, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has warned the government that no cosmetic shift in the security policies will solve the crisis of militancy and that efforts in a new dimension will be needed to achieve that end.

Based on the conclusions of a quick fact-finding mission to the Frontier province, led by Ms Asma Jahangir, the HRCP statement issued on Tuesday said:

“The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan is monitoring the gradual return of the IDPs from Malakand Division to their homes. This is a positive development and gives peace a chance. It also presents a brief window of opportunity for reversing the trend towards Talibanisation but this opportunity may be lost if a cohesive policy is not adopted and civilian infrastructure not put in place, an infrastructure that can sustain peace.

It is important to recognise the collective role played by the humanitarian agencies as well as the civilian and military administration in making the early return of the IDPs possible. Even more crucial to this turn of events was the exemplary behaviour of the displaced people and their local hosts. The displaced people found their own way to safety under extremely tough conditions and are now making their way home on their own. They have little faith in the government and there is a serious deficit of trust between the local population and the military.

In order to build trust as well as to sustain peace HRCP believes that the government must take a new direction. There was near unanimity amongst official and non-official interlocutors that met with HRCP during their missions to Pakhtoonkhwa (NWFP) that any cosmetic shift in the security policies of the government will not solve the crisis of militancy in Pakistan.

HRCP believes:

* It is crucial that the policy of “bleeding India” and maintaining a strategic depth in Afghanistan be reviewed. In short, the national security paradigm must shift to the need to keep pace with the political realities of the region. There are indications that this has so far not happened.

* The government must distance itself from the ideology of pan-Islamism.

* The nucleus of the top militant leadership must be taken apart and their communication and financial infrastructure dismantled. There are no indications that this has happened either. On the contrary, there are well-founded suspicions that certain elements known for their pro-Taliban policies continue to protect a number of top militant leaders.

* The operation in Malakand Division must not lose sight of the strong militant presence in FATA. Peace will not return to Swat unless militant networks in FATA are defeated.

* Simultaneous action must also be carried out against all militant networks in other parts of the country, particularly the Punjab, where militants operate with impunity.

* The civil and political administration must take command on the ground in Swat soon. There is a comprehensive plan of recruiting and equipping the police force in Pakhtoonkhwa. The number of police stations in the Malakand Division is to be doubled and the police force tripled. It appears that the civil administration is also preparing a comprehensive plan for better governance in the province. The resources provided to them will, however, be monitored by a serving army general on behalf of the Federation. The Awami National Party leaders plan to visit Swat on a regular basis now but almost all IDPs resented the bunkerisation of the political leadership while they faced all the risks and tragic deaths of their families.

* Access for independent journalists and observers to the area must be ensured. So far, the military has only encouraged embedded journalism to an embarrassing extent. At times local journalists have openly raised slogans in support of the military. Foreign journalists have accused the authorities of misleading them by giving false names of the places they were taken to for reporting. There are several reports of reprisals against journalists by the militants as well as by the security forces.

* Human rights violations should be closely monitored both during and post-conflict. HRCP was appalled at reports of extrajudicial killings carried out by security forces. Militant leader Maulvi Misbahuddin was apprehended by the security forces and later the bodies of Misbahuddin and his son were found in Bacha Bazar. The government claims that they were killed in an encounter while eyewitnesses hold that they were arrested by the police in Mardan. Amir Izzat, spokesperson of the Swat militants, was arrested from Amandara. Two days later the authorities claimed that Izzat was killed allegedly by militants trying to rescue him when they attacked the vehicle taking him to jail. Independent journalists claim that the targeted vehicle shown to them did not even have an engine. The most harrowing reports were of dead bodies strewn upside down by the military with notes attached to the bodies warning that anyone supporting the Taliban will meet the same fate. There must be a difference between the actions of agents of the State and those of fanatical non-state actors. Such tactics only terrorise and dehumanise society. HRCP urges the government to impart training to the security forces and familiarise them with human rights and humanitarian law. HRCP has also received credible reports of the security forces resorting to collective punishments, forcible occupation of orchards and the use of indiscriminate and excessive force.

* All human rights violations during the conflict must be investigated and those responsible brought to justice. There are reports of reprisals which can only be discouraged if the State fulfills its obligation of providing justice through due process.

* HRCP has received reports of children abandoned during the conflict being handed over to dubious NGOs. It is vital that the provincial government keep track of the adoption of every single child and ensure that children are reunited with their families or are looked after by well-intentioned groups.”

Asma Jahangir

2 thoughts on “Cosmetic changes won’t resolve militancy: HRCP

  1. Honourable
    Subject: Plea for intervention to save Sindhi and Baloch people
    Dear Sir,
    Members of Sindhi and Baloch communities in the United Kingdom would like to draw your kind attention to the heinous crimes committed by Pakistani military regime against the Baloch and Sindhi people. A brutal military operation is being carried out by Pakistani state in Balochistan and worst repressive actions are going on in Sindh over the past several years. The inhuman actions by Pakistani military regime have resulted in the murder of thousands of innocent Baloch and Sindhi people. Hundreds of Sindhi and Baloch political activists have been kidnapped by Pakistan’s military agencies. Their whereabouts are unknown, these political activists are being brutally tortured, and since then many of them have been suffering irreversible physical and mental damages. Last August,
    the acts of terror on the part of the Pakistani military establishment are tantamount to acts of genocide against the Baloch and Sindhi people. The tactics adopted by the armed forces, paramilitary forces, civilian administration and state security agencies of Pakistan are in violation of international conventions regarding human rights. In the absence of any meaningful international pressure, Pakistani armed forces and security agencies are perpetrating all kinds of brutality and human rights violations with impunity. We plea for urgent intervention from Her Majesty Government of to save the lives of Sindhi and Baloch people in Pakistan.
    Baloch and Sindhi communities in US would like to draw your attention on two most urgent issues of kidnappings and illegal detention of Sindhi and Baloch national leaders.
    1. Army secret agents picked up Dr. Hameer Sindhi, a prominent Sindhi political leader and Human rights activists and member of Amnesty international Secy Gen Sindhi Thinkers Forum International,Secy General Sindh Jagarta Tehreek,President of Human Rights Org International,dr hameer sindhis kidnapped S.H.O. Surjani Town Ghayoor Ahmed and Intelligence Officer Salman,asi Peer Bux Chandio,Amir Memon,
    The Pakistani establishment has been playing a very dangerous double game. It pretends to fight against terrorism, but in reality, this is only a ploy to extort money from the Western nations to strengthen its military and nuclear capabilities and to enhance religious fundamentalism and international terrorism all over the world. The Pakistani establishment has been exploiting the support of the Western world for the terrorization and suppression of the voices of minority nationalities in Pakistan. The weapons that you supplied to fight international terrorism are being used to kill innocent Baloch and Sindhi people. The Sindhi and Baloch communities in UK would like to express their dismay and disappointment over the continued patronage of a rouge army of a terrorist country on whatever pretext by Her Majesty’s Government.
    As British citizens, having historical and cultural links and sentimental bondages with our brethrens in Sindh and Balochistan, we think ourselves justified in demanding that British Government and British Parliament may kindly take the long-standing issues of the basic human rights of Sindhi and Baloch people plight in international forums like United Nations, European Union and Common Wealth.
    1 We appeal for immediate pressure on the Pakistani president to release Dr. Hameer sindhi and all other Baloch and Sindhi national leaders and human rights activists and political workers.
    2 We appeal for your immediate intervention in order to stop the killing of innocent Baloch and Sindhi people by the Pakistani army.
    3 We appeal for the constitution of an international commission to investigate the crimes against humanity committed by the Pakistani army in Balochistan and Sindh
    We hope that this petition be taken as an urgent humanitarian appeal. Sindhi and Baloch communities in UK would be highly obliged by your kind immediate attention and positive interventions in saving the lives of Sindhi and Baloch national leaders. Immediate intervention by the Government of Her Majesty and British Parliament can save not only a lot of Baloch lives but it can stop the present situation to change into a total genocide of defenceless Baloch and Sindhi people by Pakistani army.

    Thanking you in anticipation,


  2. We have been informed via our recent correnpondencies and other contacts with the close relatives and one of attornies’ of Yaghub Mehrnehad, that he has been sentenced to death last week by the Islamic republic of Iran’s court in Balochistan province. Yaghoub Mehrnehad who is the chairman of “the association of youth’s justice voice” was arrested on 26.04.2007 by intelligence service at the office of association in Zahedan, Balouchistan, Iran. The incidence took place during the annual session of plenum for political discussion where some of representative of steering system were delegating as well. The arrestation act included Yaghoub, his younger brother, the only 16 year old Ebrahim Mehrnehad and some other members of members of above association. Ebrahim Mehrnehad and other members were released after 70 days while Yaghoub have been kept in custody and now sentenced to death.

    Yaghoub has 3 children (5 year old abubakr, 3.5 year old Omar, and 7 month old Asieh, who was born 2 month after her father was arrested). His family has been granted permission to visit him only 4 times during he has been in custody. Yaghoub’s father is not among us anylonger, and his mother (Jan bibi) suffers from heart disease and asthma.

    Based on our contacts with close relatives of Yaghoub, he has 3 brother and 6 sisters, and considering that his father died at early age, his mother tried very hard to manage bringing up her children. Yaghub started working after his high school diploma in order to be able to support the family.

    We have as well been informed by his close relatives that his physical condition under the custody has developed to be in a very bad shape in the sence that he almost lost 14-15 kg of his weight.

    Finally the court of Islamic Republic of Iran sentenced him where even his family was not present and he was sentenced to death 1,5 monthes later.

    This decision has naturally affected the mental and psychological state of all family members dramatically. Almost all are in this belief that the result of initial conviction has not been a death sentence, and because he has been tortured so much the regime wants to end any speculation whether or not, he now has received the death penalty. By killing him (as it was the case for the 17 year old student Saeed Ghanbarzahi) the regime wants to terminate all evidences.

    To Human right’s organisation:

    As informed, the Islamic republic of Iran has yet killed and still killing hundreds / thousands of young balochis with false allegations such as participation in drug handling processes and / or participation in armed groups. As informed also, the acused persons have been killed with no any right for justice defence against the false allegations. When it is not possible for the regime to take such allegations in use, it does not hesitate to claim the balochis are politically active agains the regime.

    With reference to the same procedure we were witnessed how the Islamic regime in Iran amputed recently the hands and legs of five balochis.

    At least we know that Yaghoub and herby the association he represents has done nothing wrong than only beening politically critical against the unhuman policies that Balochistan is undergone by Islamic regime of Iran.

    The association of youth’s justice voice has performed its activities the recent years since 2002 due to the policy of foundation of non governmental organizations, and has achieved the legalization from the Youth Organization . Youghub Mehrnehad has been performing his activities within relevant legal circular under particular attention to reasonable political and cultural struggle. Thus his arrestation, custody and conviction are even inconsistent with the constitution of Islamic republic of Iran.

    We would like to call international attention, the Amnesty International in particular, to our concern. Nevertheless we would like the international community to take the necessary immediate action on stopping the death penalty of Yaghub.

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