Kohistan jirga: As panel members stay away, slayings’ probe falters

DIG says he will be leaving for Kohistan to gather more information.


Sumera Khan June 15, 2012

ISLAMABAD:


The National Assembly standing committee on human rights was unable to initiate a probe into the alleged honour killing of five women ordered by a tribal jirga in Kohistan on Thursday.


Due to the absence of majority of the members – owing to the ongoing session of the National Assembly – the standing committee on human rights could not be briefed in detail by the police and concerned officials. However, Hazara division Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Dr Naeem Khan briefed the committee about the progress made in the case so far and said that he would be leaving for Kohistan on Thursday to gather more information to present during the next meeting of the committee.

Consequently, committee head Riaz Fatyana deferred the issue till June 21. He also issued directives to the concerned officials and members of the committee to ensure their presence in the next proceedings so a proper parliamentary inquiry could be launched to establish whether the women – who had been condemned to death after the release of a wedding video where they were seen singing with other men – have actually been murdered.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Secretary Ghulam Dastgir Khan, Home Secretary Azam Khan and Hazara division Commissioner Khalid Umarzai appeared before the committee to share the investigation they had conducted so far. But when the issue was deferred, the officials were asked by the chair to compile additional investigation points with the previous ones and then present it on the next date of hearing.

The provincial government officials claim that the women who were issued the death decree are safe and some of them are even living with their families. However, last week when authorities from the Hazara division were asked by the Supreme Court to present the women before the apex court bench, which is hearing a suo motu case on the issue, they were not able to do so.

Higher Education Commission

The panel later took up another serious issue pertaining to the Higher Education Commission (HEC) over the blocked salaries of its public sector faculty and stipends to 5,000 indigenous scholars from across the country — particularly those students belonging to the conflict-hit areas, including the tribal belt.

HEC officials responded that the finance ministry has not released the funds for the last quarter and despite repeated efforts and requests, the ministry has not taken any action.

Published In The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2012.

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