LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has announced to constitute a joint committee to redress and resolve genuine complaints of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) people.
The decision was taken during a high level meeting of Shehbaz with Adviser to Prime Minister Engineer Ameer Muqam. Provincial Minister for Law Rana Sanaullah, inspector general police, home secretary and information secretary were also present on the occasion.
Serious concerns were raised during the meeting, regarding the issue of indiscriminate attitude towards Pakhtuns in Punjab, including their racial profiling.
A meeting has been scheduled for next week to review the suggestion.
Representatives from National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and Passport Authority would also be part of the meeting to address concerns regarding National Identity Cards (NICs) and ‘B’ Forms.
Muqam told The Express Tribune that there were three major concerns. The first issue was issuance of NICs and passports, which many Pakhtuns were facing for years.
He said not issuing Pakhtuns an NIC from the province and subsequently a passport from Punjab was a genuine concern which should be addressed forthwith. He said that we all are Pakistanis and have the right to live anywhere in the country.
He said the second concern was of search operations in Pakhtun localities. He said how can police enter any premises and desecrate the sanctity of a boundary wall, especially of the community, which is very touchy about it.
He said that with women, children and elders in a house, a proper mechanism should be established. Police should be accompanied by female officers for such search operations.
He said the third concern was of surprise raids. He questioned how and why does police enter any premises without any prior lead. He said that raids should be made on any information of wrongdoing or suspicion. He said that being a Pakhtun was not suspicious nor was living in a locality. He said that these are genuine concerns faced by Pakhtun localities.
According to the statement issued by the provincial government regarding the meeting, the Punjab chief minister has said Pakistan is all of us and K-P, Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab are its units. He said that imagining a complete Pakistan is impossible without all four provinces and Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. Shahbaz said that citizens living in K-P and other provinces are our brothers.
He assured that search and combing operations being conducted were not against any nation but rather terrorists and their facilitators. He said Pakhtuns living in Punjab are our brothers and sisters and their security is as dearer to us as our own.
Shehbaz said that the same terrorist group involved in Gulshan e Iqbal episode was the perpetrator of Mall Road carnage which has cost the lives of brave police officers and officials.
He said that all provinces of Pakistan including Punjab, KPK, Balochistan and Sindh have rendered unprecedented sacrifices against the menace of terrorism and the suicide attacker of Mall Road bloodshed belonged to Afghanistan whereas his facilitator was from Bajor Agency.
He said that despite recent incidents of terrorism, Punjab government after consultation decided to hold the final match of Pakistan Super League in Lahore. He said that the cooperation of the entire nation is needed for making this match successful.
Muqam also held a gathering after the meeting, to address the Pakhtun community of Lahore. He assured the Pakhtun locality that the government would not allow any injustice with them.
Police officials said mishandling at the end of police was aggravating and a racial profiling issue in the province. He said that a proper mechanism, with police, to check people with temporary residence could address racial profiling issues. He said that only if police kept elders of the locality in confidence and treated the people nicely, the issued could be resolved. He said that people should be informed that raids are being made under Punjab Information of Temporary Resident Act which applies to everyone.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2017.