Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

01 May 2020, Friday, Vol 1 No 1

Pakistan’s 2019 human rights record “greatly worrisome” says HRCP

Islamabad, the most dangerous for journalists, says Pakistan Press Freedom Report; SC allows formation of caretaker govt for GB polls

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

Pakistan’s 2019 human rights record “greatly worrisome” says Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
By Lakshmi V Menon

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) released its annual flagship report ‘State of Human Rights in 2019’ on 30 April. The report marks 2019 as the year of systematic curbs on political dissent, widespread economic and social marginalization, chokehold on press freedom, soaring poverty indicators and unemployment; shunning the weakest societal segments into the dark. The report analyses vulnerable groups, curbs on free speech, law and order and constitutional compliance. 

According to the report, child labour, sexual abuse, trafficking and murders were faced by children. At least 2,846 cases of child abuse were reported. Women faced honour crimes (the highest from Punjab) and discriminations financial inclusion, employment, education and political representation. Prisons were overpopulated and unhygienic to sub-human levels, increasing the vulnerability of prisoners to AIDS/HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis, besides mental illnesses. Religious minorities faced forced conversions, desecration of places of worship and social discrimination.

Conflict-related deaths declined and casualties of counterterrorism operations and terror attacks reduced from 2,333 in 2018 to 1,444 in 2019. Police extortions, custodial tortures, and refusal to file FIRs were reported. Regarding the dispensing of justice, 1.8 million cases were pending by the end of 2019 compared to 1.9 million in 2018. The report says PTI’s “rhetoric of curbing corruption and ending financial debt was turned upside down” and calls for Pakistan’s commitment to equal citizenship rights, “the federal and democratic character of the constitution with civilian supremacy ensured through Parliament.” Mr Rehman, HRCP honorary spokesperson, termed Pakistan’s 2019 human rights record ‘greatly worrisome’ and said Covid-19 would deteriorate the country’s human rights prospects.

Islamabad, the most dangerous for journalists, says Pakistan Press Freedom Report
By Lakshmi V Menon

On 30 April, the Pakistan Press Freedom Report 2019-20, titled “Murders, harassment and assault: The tough wages of journalism in Pakistan”, was released to commemorate the upcoming World Press Freedom Day on 3 May. As per the report, violence is common against Pakistani journalists and more common in Islamabad, the federal capital, with 34 per cent of all violent attacks in Pakistan, making Islamabad the most dangerous region for journalists. 

The report by the media rights watchdog, Freedom Network, cited 91 violent cases between May 2019 and April 2020, of which 31 occurred in Islamabad, 24 in Sindh, 21 in Punjab, 13 in KP and three in Balochistan. These included seven journalist murders, abductions, confinements, arrests, attacks, threats, harassment, lodging of legal cases, physical assaults and other offences. 

The largest pool of victims (63 cases) were TV personnel, followed by those from print media (25 cases). In 42 per cent of the cases, victims suspected involvement of state agencies. Other perceived perpetrators include influential individuals, religious groups and political parties, besides criminal gangs.

Iqbal Khattak, head of Freedom Network, said attacks forced journalists to practice self-censorship. He added that “the state and its functionaries” are the “principal threat actor” for media amid growing silence and submission. The report comes at a time when the ruling PTI is facing national, regional and global criticism for the unlawful arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, the Chief-editor of Jang/Geo group, a media house that published information against Imran Khan’s government. (Dawn, 1 May, 2020)

SC allows formation of caretaker govt for GB polls
By Abigail Miriam Fernandez

On 30 May, the Supreme Court permitted the federal government to conduct the upcoming general elections in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) under the Election Act 2017 and further amended the law which would install a caretaker government for conducting the elections. Further, the Attorney General for Pakistan stated that the amendments would be made through the implementation of a presidential order.

The federal government’s application seeking amendments to the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 to conduct general elections by adopting the Election Act 2017 was heard by a seven-member bench. The apex court has given a short order while a detailed verdict would be announced later. Further, the advocate general of GB said that the GB government had no objection to the federal government’s appeal.

With the tenure of the GB government expiring on the 24 June, the next general elections in the region would become due within 60 days after the expiry of the GB Legislative Assembly, thus it became crucial to provide a legal mechanism that would assist in conducting the elections and formation of the caretaker government. Further, the verdict gave an explanation for Article 187 of the Constitution which gives special jurisdiction to the Supreme Court over GB, raised concern about the status and rights of the GB people in Al-Jehad Trust case and also reiterated the human rights jurisprudence of the apex court which would continue to serve towards securing the liberties and rights of all the people and GB.

By A Padmashree & P Harini Sha

Pakistanis returned to Punjab tested positive for the coronavirus.
Of the 3,554 Pakistanis who returned through the special flights from various countries in the past two weeks, 259 passengers have tested positive for coronavirus. The 767 passengers from UAE, Qatar, New York, and Colombo are quarantined and kept for an incubation period for the testing process. (Dawn)

The Corona Relief Tiger Force is officially set to begin
The one million volunteers of the Corona Relief Tiger force (CRTF) are expected to come into force after the formal address by Imran Khan. The CRTF volunteers will officially begin their operation in the three provinces: Punjab, Khyber, and Balochistan. The responsibilities of CRTF include assisting the government in the imposition of lockdown, preparing funerals, and maintain social distancing during the month of Ramadan. The opposition parties have opposed the plan as it would politicise the national effort to fight the coronavirus. (Dawn)

Pakistani workers lost jobs in UAE, expected to return
More than 13,000 Pakistani workers have lost their jobs in the UAE due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. The Pakistan Foreign Office has said that the Gulf countries and UAE host about 4.5 million Pakistan workers and due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the oil prices dropped to record low which hit hard the Pakistani workers. More than 50,000 Pakistani citizens from the Middle East are expected to return to Pakistan in near future. (The Express Tribune)

Dawn's editorial says the Afghan deal is doomed
In its editorial, Dawn wrote: The options for Afghanistan are grim. If the foreign forces stay, the status quo will continue, as the Taliban continue to hammer the weak dispensation in Kabul. Moreover, nearly two decades of foreign intervention have failed to give the Afghans a functioning state that can deliver the basics. If the foreign forces leave and there is no agreement between Afghan factions, the country is likely to implode and return to the chaos of the post-Soviet Mujahideen era. Neither of these is an attractive option for the Afghan people. (Dawn)

On India
Pakistan pays tribute to Rishi Kapoor and Irffan khan.
Rishi Kapoor, the News in its editorial noted: "In the later years of his life, he also spoke out openly on Indo-Pakistan relations and the need to build bridges between the two countries. To many in Pakistan, remembering Rishi Kapoor comes with a hit of nostalgia. Chintu, in his many different sweaters, holding a dafli or tweeting about South Asian solidarity – he will be missed." On Irffan it said, "He combined the careful planning of Hollywood with the more slapdash style of Bollywood and created a new vision of film." The editorial paid tribute to both: "Rishi Kapoor and Irrfan Khan brought to acting a vision that was entirely their own, informed by both their generations and backgrounds. They truly will live on in the songs, music, and ideas and emotions they evoke through performances (The News International)

Pakistan Army complains of unprovoked ceasefire violation and deliberate targeting of civilians by India 
According to a release by the Inter-Services Press Release (ISPR), "Indian Army initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation (CFV) in Kailer & Rakhchikri Sectors along LOC. In Kailer Sector, Indian troops targeted Pakistan Army posts with automatics and heavy weapons. Pakistan Army responded effectively. Reports of heavy losses to Indian troops in men and material. During exchange of intense fire, Lance Naik Ali Baz, age 34 years, resident of District Karak, embraced shahadat. In Rakchikri Sector, Indian Army troops deliberately targeted civilian population. Due to indiscriminate fire in Kirni village, a girl age 16 & a woman age 52 years were martyred while a 10 years old boy & 55 years old woman got injured." (ISPR)

Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesperson claims of exposing BJP's campaign to demonise Muslims
In a weekly media briefing, the Foreign Office spokesperson claimed: "The foreign minister apprised the OIC Secretary General about the BJP government’s systematic campaign to demonize Muslims by holding them responsible for the spread of Coronavirus." Referring to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) she also said: "The report acknowledges that the present Indian government used its strengthened parliamentary majority to institute national-level policies violating religious freedom across India, especially for Muslims, most notably, enactment of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act." (The News)

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