A parliamentary panel on human rights decided on Wednesday to embark on a fact-finding mission to probe into the reasons behind targeted and sectarian killings.
The decision was taken during a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights presided over by the committee’s Chairman Riaz Fatyana.
The committee will visit Quetta, Gilgit and Karachi during the last week of September and first week of October in a bid to uncover the factors behind recent violence in the country, Fatyana told journalists after the meeting.
Fatyana said the committee will take up the issue of enforced disappearances in Quetta, and investigate the murder of Shias in Gilgit along with target killings in Karachi.
On August 16, 20 Shias were plucked from the bus they were travelling in and shot dead at point-blank range in Manshera district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Condemning the recent massacre in G-B, Fatyana expressed concern over the state’s failure in protecting its citizens. “People will be left with no other option but to leave the country if they are not provided with protection. This is also the reason behind large-scale migration of Hindus.”
He, however, quashed the notion of external powers being responsible for the rise in sectarian intolerance.
During the meeting, Dr Araish Kumar from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) asked the committee to question Main Abdul Haq, alias Mian Mitho, of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on how he managed to convert about 20,000 non-Muslims to Islam.
Kumar was referring to a statement issued by the PPP MNA at the floor of the House maintaining he had converted over 20,000 people to Islam. “He should be asked whether these people converted from their own free will or were coerced into it,” said Dr Kumar.
He maintained that a large section of the Hindu community had migrated from the country because of the deteriorating law and order situation, adding that a member of Sindh’s provincial assembly had decided to leave the country for the same reason.
“You will soon learn that the MPA has settled in India,” said Kumar without specifying who he was talking about.
Another committee member from the PPP, Fouzia Habib accused former military dictator General Ziaul Haq of sowing the seeds of sectarian intolerance in the society.
Discussing the blasphemy case under which 14-year-old Rimsha Masih has been accused of burning pages with verses from the Holy Quran written on them, the committee directed secretary of the ministry of human rights to provide legal assistance to the girl in case her family does not have the resources to hire a legal representative.
Fatayana also suggested a judicial probe into the violent demonstrations against load-shedding throughout the country in which irked citizens have been attacking private property. Fatyana’s own house in Kamaliya, Punjab was recently attacked during one such demonstration.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2012.