PESHAWAR: While cameras focus on the death and destruction wrought by terrorists in the aftermath of a blast, few stop to think what impact does it have on those who survived the terrible incidents. For this purpose, a former Senator on Friday called for creating a ‘civilian terror-victims’ rehabilitation” project.
This was stated by former Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Farhatullah Babar speaking at a seminar on sustainable peace in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) organised by the Progressive Democratic Alliance at the Peshawar Press Club Friday. He demanded an end to treating victims of terror attacks as mere statistics.
A long-time advocate for ending mysterious disappearances, Babar called for full disclosure about those who have been detained in internment centres and the status of the cases lodged against them.
Deploring that the parliamentary questions on these issues were never answered, he said that the time had come to take the bull by the horns, especially if the state wishes to channel voices such as those raised by the Pushtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) into a peaceful and inclusive change.
About the mysterious disappearances, he said that the “Action in Aid of Civil Power Regulation” promulgated in 2011 was given a back dated effect from 2008 to enable the security agencies to bring into the open those in their custody from 2008.
Moreover, Babar explained, the law was to allow those held in internment centres to be presented for trial in the courts. But, since no one knows where and how many of these internment centres were set up, it is unclear how many alleged militants were detained in these centres, were there any deaths in custody or whether they were indeed being tried in courts.
Speaking about the Coalition Support Fund, which the US paid to Pakistan for its support in the Afghan war, Babar said that it compensated only the material losses incurred by Islamabad in the war. No institutional arrangements were made for reparations of the loss of thousands of civilian lives, he said.
However, Babar clarified that the primary responsibility for compensating such victims was that of the Pakistani state. Hence not demanding reparations on behalf of the victims was a crime which needs to be investigated.
Referring to the drone strikes, he recalled that in May 2013, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) had ruled that drone strikes were illegal and should be declared as war crimes and asked the government to raise the issue of compensation with the UN Secretary General adding the Senate also passed a unanimous resolution to this effect.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2018.