Kashmiri leaders urge resumption of Indo-Pak talks

Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy, 11 Temple Road, Lahore

United Centre for Peace, 5 Temple Road, Lahore

Press Release

Dated 31 August, 2009

Kashmiri leaders urge resumption of Indo-Pak talks

Lahore, August 31: The leaders of all political parties of Azad Jammu and Kashmir have called upon the governments of India and Pakistan to immediately resume talks to solve the Kashmir issue on the basis of the peoples’ rights of self-determination and incurability of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir.

A press release issued after the AJK political leaders meeting said:

Eminent Kashmiri leaders representing all major political parties of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Northern Areas met at Islamabad on 27-8-09 to resume their discussions for a peaceful solution of the Kashmir issue.  The political developments since their last meeting on August 28, 2007 followed by their meeting with Foreign Minister of Pakistan on September 20, 2007 were discussed.  The leaders noted with great concern the lack of progress in the negotiations between the government of Pakistan and India on matters vital for the resolution of the Kashmir issue and urged the two governments to resume the stalled talks without delay.

The leaders reaffirmed:

THAT the people of Jammu and Kashmir firmly stand to achieve their right of self determination,

THAT in the exercise of their said right of self-determination they reiterate the demand that the former State shall remain indivisible, geographically, politically and constitutionally,

THAT the right of self-determination also entitles them to sit with the representatives of the governments of Pakistan and India to conclude such arrangements as will adequately meet national security concerns of Pakistan and India,

The leaders exchanged views about the nature of the future State of Jammu and Kashmir and decided to take the necessary steps to explore the views of the government of Pakistan.  They also decided to extend invitation to the leaders of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the Indian held areas of the former State.

The representatives of the people of the Former State of Jammu and Kashmir urged the two governments to open without delay all points on the Line of Control and all roads and paths including the Kargil Skardu and Mirpur Jammu (Mnawar Akhnur) road for traffic and commerce.

The leaders of all the political showed deep concerned at the continued senseless violence against the innocent people of the State adding to the horrendous toll of lives during the past nineteen years,

The following attended the meeting:

Ch. Muhammad Latif Akbar, Secretary-general PPP-AJK and minister of finance in the Government of AJK

Sardar Khalid Ibrahim Khan (MLA in the last four assemblies) President, Jamu Kashmir Peoples Party, AJK

Mr. Abdul Majeed Malick, Chief Justice (r) AJK, President, Jammu Kashmir Liberation League

Mr Aman-ullah Khan, Supreme Head, JKLF, B-144 Satellite Town, Murree Road, Rawalpindi

Justice(r) Syed Sharif Hussain Bokhari President, Kashmir Action Committee

Mr. Munir Hussain Chaudhry, Advocate President, Pakistan Peoples Party (SB) AJK

MrWajahat Hassan Mirza, Chairman APNA

Mr Nur-ul-Bari, Naib Amir Jamat-e-Islami

Mr Ianayatullah Shimali, Chairman, Gilgit Baltastan National Alliance

Dr Najeeb Khan Naqi, former minister Ajk representing the Muslim Conference AJK

The meeting was facilitated by Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy and United Centre for Peace that were represented by Dr. Mubashir Hasan.


HRCP urges Pakistan, India to resume prisoner swap, stop arrests for minor violations

Press Release, 5 August 2009

Lahore: As the Pakistani and Indian governments exhibit a welcome resolve to resume dialogue, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan urges them to also reconsider the plight of each other’s nationals incarcerated in prisons across the border, institute long-term policies to de-criminalise minor visa or border-crossing violations and stop violating Article 73 (Enforcement of laws and regulations of the coastal State) of the UN Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that prohibits the arrest of fishermen crossing a maritime border.

HRCP urges an early resumption of the process of reciprocal exchange of prisoners, halted since the Mumbai attacks.

HRCP endorses the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum’s demand for a permanent solution that includes a policy in which Pakistan and India stop arresting each other’s fishermen for maritime boundary violations. Such detentions routinely violate Article 73 of UNCLOS, according to which penalties for violations “may not include imprisonment, in the absence of agreements to the contrary by the States concerned, or any other form of corporal punishment”.

When making such arrests, the security agencies also seize boats, equipment and catch worth lakhs of rupees. Dozens of such boats, representing the hard work and sweat of the poor, lie rotting in harbours on either side.

Pakistan and India allow each other’s arrested citizens no access to consular services until after they have served their prison terms. Many languish for years in brutal conditions. They have no legal rights or the ability to challenge their arrest or engage a lawyer. Normally their families remain oblivious of their arrests, location of prisons and the conditions there.

Cases come to public notice when prisoners’ families or friends are lucky to acquire information, take up the issue and notify the media. Engaging lawyers across the divide also adds to the woes of the incarcerated prisoners and their families. Such families often remain long ignorant of the arrest and whereabouts of their loved ones. Sometimes, even after prisoners are returned, they have nowhere to go if they have lost track of their families, or their families have disowned them.

Use of torture as well as negligence is rampant in prisons in both countries.  This has resulted in the loss of lives as well as leaving many prisoners on both sides physically and mentally scarred for life.

The two States must ensure that each other’s nationals are repatriated at the earliest and that they are not denied basic human rights in prisons merely on account of their nationality.

Asma Jahangir

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

Getting Away With Murder 2009

Committee to Protect Journalists

330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001 USA     Phone: (212) 465‑1004     Fax: (212) 465‑9568     Web: www.cpj.org     E-Mail: info@cpj.org

Contact: Meredith Greene Megaw

E-mail: mgmegaw@cpj.org               Telephone:  (212) 465-1004 x105




CPJ’s Impunity Index spotlights countries where journalists are slain and killers go free


New York, March 23, 2009—The already murderous conditions for the press in Sri Lanka and Pakistan deteriorated further in the past year, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found in its newly updated Impunity Index, a list of countries where journalists are killed regularly and governments fail to solve the crimes. Colombia, historically one of the world’s deadliest nations for the press, improved as the rate of murders declined and prosecutors won important recent convictions.


“We’re distressed to see justice worsen in places such as Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Our findings indicate that the failure to solve journalist murders perpetuates further violence against the press,” said Joel Simon, CPJ executive director. “Countries can get off this list of shame only by committing themselves to seeking justice.”


CPJ’s Impunity Index, compiled for the second year, calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of a country’s population. CPJ examined every nation in the world for the years 1999 through 2008. Cases are considered unsolved when no convictions have been obtained. Only those nations with five or more unsolved cases are included on this Index, a threshold reached by 14 countries this year.


Iraq, Sierra Leone, and Somalia—countries racked by armed conflict—top the Impunity Index. But most of the list encompasses peacetime democracies with functioning law enforcement, nations such as Russia, the Philippines, and India.


Brazil is the sole newcomer to the 2009 index. Although Brazilian authorities have succeeded in prosecuting some journalist murders, those efforts have not offset the nation’s high rate of deadly violence against the press.


CPJ began compiling the index in 2008 to raise awareness about a disturbing pattern of impunity in countries across the world. The organization has undertaken a Global Campaign Against Impunity to seek justice in journalist murders, the world’s gravest threat to free expression, and has focused particularly on unsolved killings in Russia and the Philippines.


This year’s report is being released in Manila to mark the fourth anniversary of the murder of Marlene Garcia-Esperat, a Philippine columnist who reported on corruption in the government’s agriculture department. Garcia-Esperat was gunned down in her home in front of her family in a case that has become emblematic of the struggle against impunity. Two government officials are accused of ordering her murder.


“Philippine journalists are clamoring for justice in at least two dozen unsolved cases, and they need government protection from the murderous thugs who are killing their colleagues year after year,” said Elisabeth Witchel, CPJ’s impunity campaign coordinator. “We call on the Philippine government to take the hard steps needed to gain convictions: assigning sufficient prosecutors and investigators to these cases, moving trials to safe and impartial venues, protecting witnesses, and providing high-level political backing for all of these efforts.”


Among the other findings in CPJ’s Impunity Index:


  • All of the countries included in the 2008 Index remained on the list this year. Only slight changes were seen in the rankings and ratings of most countries.


  • Unsolved murders were reported in both Russia and the Philippines in 2008. Both countries have had stubbornly high rates of impunity in journalist slayings over the past decade.


  • South Asian journalists face particularly severe risks. The region’s nations make up nearly half of CPJ’s index. Six are included on the 2009 list: Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India.


  • Even in wartime, journalists are more likely to be targeted and murdered than killed in combat. In Iraq, for example, murders account for nearly two-thirds of all media fatalities.


  • Although conditions in Iraq improved in 2008, authorities there have yet to solve a single murder case involving a journalist.


  • Worldwide, the vast majority of victims are local reporters covering sensitive topics such as crime, corruption, and national security in their home countries.


For a detailed explanation of CPJ’s methodology in compiling this index, click here.


THE INDEX Continue reading

SAHR-SAFMA Peace Mission to New Delhi – Let People Unite Against Terrorism and War

SAHR-SAFMA Peace Mission to New Delhi

Let People Unite Against Terrorism and War

Lahore-New Delhi: 21-24 January 2009


The South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) and South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) have jointly decided to take a Peace Mission from Pakistan to New Delhi from 21st to 24th January 2009. The 19-Member Delegation will interact with civil society, media and political leadership of India to stress the need to keep the peace process going, jointly fight the scourge of terrorism at all levels and in every manner and avoid war in the best interest of the peoples of India and Pakistan. The Peace Mission will explore the possibilities of reciprocation by the civil society of India.


The Peace Mission condemns, unequivocally and unreservedly the November 26 terrorist attack in Mumbai as a most heinous crime against innocent people. We share the grief of the families of victims and the people of India whose friendship we cherish.


Unfortunately, this outrage has brought India and Pakistan to a dangerous crossroads and we hope we will not be diverted from the path of peace. The two countries must not allow the terrorists to hijack the peace agenda. They must resume the Composite Dialogue process, and the sooner the better. War or even a state of suspended hostility between India and Pakistan will blight the whole region’s future.


India’s rage after Mumbai was justified and the world had sympathy for it. When Pakistan revealed its hurt it didn’t wash with the world and ended with bringing Pakistan’s democratic experiment under tremendous strain. Unfortunately the media on both sides did not pay due heed to the long-term interests of the subcontinent’s teeming millions.


After passing through a denial mould, Pakistan has acknowledged that the surviving Mumbai raider came from Pakistan which it should have accepted much earlier. Subsequently, the interior ministry has ordered an investigation and vowed to bring the culprits to justice. We hope the investigation will be thorough and fair and the Pakistan establishment will take all possible measures not to let anyone use its soil for murderous games. Meanwhile, India must eschew anger and get Pakistan to engage in negotiations on the basis of verified facts of the Mumbai attack. Whoever planned the Mumbai carnage wanted to foment conflict between India and Pakistan and prevent the latter from securing peace in its north western regions. They did succeed partially, but they must not be allowed any further success.


We appreciate the role of the international community in helping to defuse the situation and yet the South Asian context remains relevant. It is important that both India and Pakistan accept a South Asian cooperative methodology of resolving inter-state disputes. The wisdom may not appear realistic at the moment but it is unassailable. We must insist on evolving a SAARC mechanism for looking after our common problems.


Mumbai should not threaten Indo-Pak relations, nor should it endanger South Asia. It should compel South Asia to seek solutions to problems that are bound to become more trans-border than they are now. Terrorism is spreading like a disease. It has engulfed Afghanistan, a SAARC member, and has spread to most of Pakistan too. Some traces of it are already visible in India where a majority of the South Asian population lives. Instead of accusing each other of terrorism, the SAARC states must get together and discuss it as a common problem. A regional consensus against terrorism and extremism and a common strategy to fight it – that is the only answer.


It is only in this context that SAARC states could ask one another for the surrender of terrorists guilty of cross-border outrages. There are two possible reactions to trouble as it looms on the horizon. One is to build high walls and block communication so that calamity stays on the other side of the border. This has not worked and may work even less in the days to come. The only casualties are the peace process and the truth. The other way is to open up the region to trade routes and transport networks allowing free movement of people, goods and information. The SAARC protocols on terrorism need to be made more effective.


The Mumbai attack was paradigmatic, which means patterns of behaviour must change fundamentally now for the sake of survival of SAARC states. This change cannot come through war. It must come through cooperation at both bilateral and regional levels. India and Pakistan must strengthen Joint Anti-terrorism mechanism. On the other hand, SAARC must evolve regional mechanisms and institutions to collectively fight terrorism, cross-border crimes, smuggling, narcotics trade and evolve a judicial forum to prosecute the terrorists and criminals wanted by one state or the other. We must forge friendship and burry the hatchet forever. We wish India well, so should you Pakistan. The people must unite against terrorism and war and persuade their governments to forge unity against the common enemy.


Imtiaz Alam                                                           Asma Jehangir,

Secretary General, SAFMA                                    SAHR-HRCP, Pakistan





  1. Mr. Haji Muhammad Adeel (Senator Awami National Party)
  2. Ms. Farzana Adeel (Wife)
  3. Mr. Ali Haroon Shah (former member Provincial Assembly & member of working committee PML N)
  4. Ms. Asma Jahangir (Chairperson HRCP)
  5. Mr. Ibn Abdur Rehman (IA Rehman) Senior Journalist & Bureau member of South Asian for Human Rights (SAHR)
  6. Ms. Salima Hashmi (Artist &Human Rights Activist)
  7. Mr. Iqbal Haider (former Senator, Law Minister & Co-chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)
  8. Ms. Syeda Maimanat Mohsin (Jugnu Mohsin) (Publisher and editor Friday Times)
  9. Mr. Muhammad Tehseen ( Executive Director South Asia Partnership)
  10. Mr. Brig (r) Rao Abid (Peace activist)
  11. Mr. Dr. Abdul Hameed Nayyar (educationist research fellow SDPI)
  12. Ms. Samina Bano Rahman (Women’s Action Forum)
  13. Mr. Kamran Arif (HRCP & specialist on FATA and Northern Areas)
  14. Ms. Mussarrat Hilali (Vice Chair NWFP, of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan)
  15. Mr. Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed (former member National Assembly & PPP working committee)
  16. Mr. Imtiaz Alam (Executive Director SAFMA)  
  17. Mr. Nusrat Javeed (Senior Journalist)
  18. Mr. Mustansar Javed (Senior Journalist)
  19. Mr. Munir Ahmed (Munoo Bhai) (Senior Columnist)
  20. Dr. Hassan Askari Rizvi (Independent political and defense analyst)


For Media Coverage


Ms. Phyza Jameel (Bureau Chief CNBC Pakistan-Lahore)

Ms. Asma Sherazi (TV Journalist and encore person)