ISLAMABAD: The government seems to be clueless and perplexed as to how to deal with “scaremongers” and “hatemongers” who have been using social media as a tool to spread misinformation along ethnic and racial lines.
“These elements have been still at large,” sources in the relevant quarters told The Express Tribune on Sunday.
Recently, a systematic attempt has been made to create an “apparent racial profiling” and “stereotyping” of the Pakhtun community in Punjab. However, the authorities concerned have not been able to arrest any culprit involved in spreading such rumours.
According to sources, no inquiry has been initiated yet by the FIA (cyber-crime wing) in this context. Meanwhile the Standing Committee on Interior and Narcotics Control has also taken the ‘racial profiling issue’ on its next agenda.
The alleged circular of Anjuman-i-Tajran Bilal Market (registered), Bilal Gunj Lahore went viral on social media in which members of the association belonging to the Pashto-speaking community were asked to submit their credentials with the association so that the same could be submitted to the police station concerned.
On the letterhead of the association, it was stated that officers belonging to the ‘sensitive department’ of the government of Punjab visited the office of the association and issued directives to submit the credentials of the persons belonging to the Pakhtun community with the police station concerned.
The association warned members of the traders’ association who belong to the Pakhtun community to submit their credentials within 48 hours with it; otherwise it would not be responsible for any action taken against them.
Later on the association issued a rebuttal in this connection. An alleged circular of the Punjab police has also been in focus with regard to racial profiling of Pakhtun.
Sources in the relevant quarters told The Express Tribune that a task force was being constituted by security agencies to probe the issue.
“Two officials each from the ISI and IB will be taken to do the job,” it was learnt.
Senator Syed Shibli Faraz of the PTI told The Express Tribune that racial profiling was against the Constitution and international human rights conventions to which Pakistan is a signatory.
He said: “The issue will be taken in the next meeting of the Standing Committee of the Senate on Interior and Narcotics Control which has been scheduled for 10th of this month.”
“If racial profiling continues to exist, then the issue will be taken up on the floor of parliament.”
“They are (the provincial government of Punjab) is behind it since the police department comes under its control,” Faraz alleged.
He said when discrimination was done by America against Muslims it was protested, although they (Americans) had more reasons to do so and there was no reason to adopt the practice of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity in the country.
Faraz said: “Terrorism has no borders and it cannot be associated with a specific community.”
He said they (the agencies concerned) must do profiling of terrorists but it should not be done on the basis of ethnicity.
He said currently in Punjab, Pakhtun were not being given lodging in hotels, adding, “Continuing this practice will be nothing but stupidity”.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2017.