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Human rights in GB: HRCP takes federal government to task

  • Asma demands region’s integration into Pakistan, points out weaknesses in self-governance order
  • ‘No separatists in GB, only movement to recognise their territory as part of Pakistan’

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Friday launched a fact-finding report on Gilgit-Baltistan, recommending provisional constitutional status that will lead to a permanent provincial status to the region.

Addressing the launching ceremony of the fact-finding report here, former HRCP chairperson Asma Jahangir said that the constitutional status for the Gilgit Baltistan was needed to be resolved as soon as possible. “Integration of the region into Pakistan is essential for addressing most of the political and administrative issues faced by the local people,” she said.

Sharing recommendations, she said that all fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution should be extended to the region. She said that the Gilgit Baltistan Self Governance Ordinance-2009 has many weaknesses and the people in the area were deprived of many rights enjoyed by residents of other parts of Pakistan.

In the region, the judiciary cannot strike down any order, rule and even steps taken by the government at the centre. “This is the unique case in the world that people are termed insurgents for demanding to make their region part of the country. There is no separatist in Gilgit Baltistan, what the residents demand is to recognise their territory as part of Pakistan,” she said.

“I, during my visit to Gilgit Baltistan in August 2016, have personally realised the sense of deprivation among youth of the area which needed to be addressed,” she said. Showing concerns about the misuse of Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and naming innocents in Fourth Schedule by the law enforcement agencies (LEAs), she said that the unchecked authority of the security forces and intelligence agencies needs to be monitored and controlled.

Under the immense pressure and in fear of the agencies, the political leaders and social activists were largely tight lipped, Asma said, adding that the local print media in the area was highly controlled and it was unable to present the true feelings of the people. “Those who try to express their views through social media are also booked under cybercrimes rule,” she said.

According to her, a young man in every four family has been enlisted in the Schedule Four restricting his movement and activities even at home and in his hometown. “Arbitrary decisions are being taken there and activists and journalists being harassed. There is widespread misuse of anti-terror laws. These are pressing matters in need of urgent attention,” she said.

Asma said that the people in Gilgit Baltistan were not being taken into confidence over development on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). “Their concerns and demands should be given appropriate representation in forums responsible for implementing and monitoring projects under CPEC,” she said.

She said that the land being acquired by the government or for CPEC related projects should be compensated. Through the report, the HRCP demanded to the government that independence of judiciary in the region should be respected and all the judges should be appointed from the region with guaranteed tenure.

In reply to a query, she said that HRCP would discuss and forward its recommendations to Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz for better constitutional reforms package for the area which has been deprived of its constitutional and basic rights for the last 70 years.

The fact-finding report was based on the visit of HRCP’s mission to the region in August 2016 during which the commission had met with chief minister, chief judge of the Supreme Appellate Court, representatives of political parties, social activists, lawyers, journalists, businessmen and others.

via Pakistan Today

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