HR panel to discuss plight of Bagram returnees

Published: September 12, 2017
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PHOTO: EXPRESS

PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Tuesday referred the matter of 42 Pakistanis recently released by US authorities from Afghanistan’s Bagram detention centre after years of confinement without charges, to its penal on human rights.

Senator Sherry Rehman, who previously served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, raised the issue in the Upper House of Parliament as a matter of public importance. She said that out of 45 Pakistanis languishing in Bagram, 42 have been repatriated as no crime could be pinned on them.

“Stripped of their rights and caught in the legal black hole for years, their lives been destroyed,” she told the House. She did not mention the exact date of their release, but said the Lahore High Court (LHC) and an NGO, Justice Project Pakistan, along with Pakistani embassy played an important role in this regard.

 

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Most of them face debilities due to torture they underwent during their interrogation and are not in a position to make their living, according to the PPP senator.

They were released by detainee’s review broad after no charges were proved against them, but the US authorities did not pay them any compensation, she said.

Rehman believed the victims deserved compensation under that country’s Civilian Victims Compensation Act. Citing example of the Canadian government, she said it paid one of its national C$8 million in compensation when he was released from a similar detention.

Chairman Raza Rabbani referred the matter to the Senate Select Committee on Human Rights and sought its report within one month. The House also decided to convene next week a session of the Committee of the Whole on the reforms in the Federally-Administered Tribal Area (Fata).

Earlier, opening debate on the presidential address to the joint session of parliament, Farhatullah Babar, of the PPP, deplored that the address was silent on the Fata reforms. He said a meeting on Fata in the Prime Minister House last week raised more questions than it answered and called for bringing the reforms package before parliament.

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He pointed out that in a Prime Minister House press statement about the meeting, neither was there a mention of the jurisdiction of superior courts in Fata nor of the law that would be replacing the draconian Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR).

The press release, Babar said, mentioned the creation of a new post of chief operating officer (COO), which he feared would be filled by a military general. In the presence of a uniformed officer as COO, both the government and the President House would become redundant as the locus of power would shift to Rawalpindi and further militarise the tribal areas, he added.

Babar then touched upon the remarks of President Mamnoon Husain on nuclear proliferation. He said he welcomed the president’s remarks that Pakistan believed in non-proliferation and was entitled to a seat in the prestigious Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

However, the categorical statement the supreme commander of the Pakistan armed forces on non-proliferation and “the expression of pious hope” for entering the NSG was soon contradicted by a retired general, Pervez Musharraf, in London, who claimed that tons of nuclear material had been secretly shipped to North Korea, Iran and Libya and that it was done by just one individual.

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“Who will now trust in Mamnoon Hussain’s claim of non-proliferation and who will agree to give a seat to Pakistan on the NSG, where an impeccable record of non-proliferation is the foremost condition,” he asked.

“By regurgitating an old and almost forgotten story, whipping a dead horse and publicly contradicting the Supreme Commander, General [retd] Musharraf has done irreparable damage,” Babar said, as he demanded action against the former military ruler.

“Musharraf has also mocked the notion that the president indeed is also the supreme commander,” he said.

Babar said no progress had been made in the development of a national narrative to reject the militants’ extremist ideology.

“Militancy cannot be fought with weapons alone,” he said. “Universities and seats of higher learning are now infested with extremism and militancy, and there is a need for urgently developing a national narrative to counter it,” he added and proposed that the issue should be discussed in the Committee of the Whole, where all stakeholders should be invited.

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The issue of missing persons was once again raised in the House, with Hafiz Hamdullah of the JUI-F pointing out the disappearance of a member of Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) along with his staff in Quetta a few days ago.

The chair remarked that even parliament has admitted its failure to resolve the issue of enforced disappearances.

During Tuesday’s sitting, the House passed the Corporate Rehabilitation Bill, 2017, while Convener of the Special Committee on Marginalised Segments of Society presented its sixth interim report.

The chair also admitted an adjournment motion to discuss the genocide of Rohingya Muslims and their displacement from their homeland at the hands of Buddhist extremists and Myanmar forces.

 

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