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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

08 September 2020, Tuesday I Vol 1, No.127

There is no rule of law in Islamabad Capital Territory for ordinary citizens, observes High Court



On Enforced disappearances, the Chief Justice of IHC wants the interior secretary to brief Imran Khan

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

The Islamabad High Court came down heavily on the government over the issue of enforced disappearances. Justice Athar Minahullah has observed if the state and the courts cannot protect the right to life of a citizen, then there is no reason for them to continue.

The disappearance of Sajid Gondal
The first case was relating to a habeas corpus petition filed by the mother of an official working with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP). On 3 September, Sajid Gondal, a joint director working with the SECP went missing in Islamabad. According to Dawn, his wife tried to complain to the police the following day; but, could not get the FIR registered. However, Shireen Mazari, the minister of Human Rights tweeted: "Disappearance of Sajid Gondal is of concern & we as govt have a duty to ensure his early recovery. Police has been directed to register an FIR. Protection of each citizen's life is our constitutional obligation. Rule of law must prevail - all must be dealt with acc to the law."

On the same day, Amnesty International also took up the issue to apply pressure on the concerned. In a report it said: "Sajid Gondal, a former journalist and an official with the SECP, is missing and feared to have been disappeared. We call upon the authorities to establish his whereabouts immediately."

The Habeas Corpus and the Islamabad High Court
Following the habeas corpus petition by Sajid Gondal's mother, the Islamabad High Court took up the issue. On 5 September, Justice Minahullah asking the authorities to look into the matter also observed the following: "The recent increase in cases of abduction within the fourteen hundred square miles area of the Islamabad Capital Territory is alarming and raises questions regarding fundamental rights of the citizens and the state of governance."

According to Dawn, on the same day, "the court warned that in case the responsible public functionaries failed to produce Mr Gondal before the court on Monday at 2pm, the interior secretary and the chief commissioner and the inspector general of Islamabad would appear in person in court to explain why they might not be proceeded against for their inability and failure on part of the federal government and the administration of the Islamabad Capital Territory to protect citizens from harm." ("IHC wants 'missing' govt official recovered by tomorrow," Dawn, 6 September 2020)

Unfortunately, there was no positive development in the case. When the deadline came to an end yesterday (7 September), all that could be done by the officials involved in the case, was to appear before the Court. In the words of the Court: "The officials, who have appeared today, prima facie, do not seem to appreciate the gravity of the alleged offence and its consequences, not only for the loved ones of the citizen who went missing three days ago, but the general public as well." ("IHC wants PM briefed on enforced disappearances," Dawn, 8 September 2020)

Court wants the PM to briefed on the issue
According to Dawn, Justice Minallah also "directed the interior secretary to brief the worthy PM and members of his cabinet regarding the abysmal state of law and order and the obvious impunity against crime within the 1,400 square miles area." ("IHC wants PM briefed on enforced disappearances," Dawn, 8 September 2020)

The problem of Enforced Disappearances in Pakistan
On 30 August (International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances), the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) reiterated to the government its pledge to criminalize enforced disappearances, keeping in line with the Islamabad High Court's 2018 ruling, which categorized enforced disappearance as a crime against humanity. The HRCP went on to state that no only much this atrocious practice be recognized an offence with the perpetrators held strictly accountable, but also victims and their families must also be compensated for the pain that this issue has brought. Further, the press release by the commission stated that while victims such as Dr Deen Mohammad from Balochistan have now been missing 11 long years, there has been a new pattern of persons who are disappeared forcibly for shorter periods and then 'allowed' to return after having been subjected to torture and warned against continuing their work. The HRCP demanded that the findings of the 2010 judicial commission on enforced disappearances are made public and the Commission of Inquiry of Enforced Disappearances (COIOED) be made an independent tribunal that can deliver justice. ("Freedom from fear: HRCP demands end to enforced disappearances," Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 29 August 2020) ("International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances – 30 August," Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 30 August 2020)

The COIOED in August stated that a total number of 6,686 cases were received up until June 2020. During July 2020, 43 more cases were received by the commission and the total numbers of cases reached 6,729. The commission disposed 23 cases in July 2020 and thus total resolved cases as of 30 July, 2020, is 4,616, with a balance of 2,113 cases. The commission was to resume its hearings with the lifting of the lockdown restrictions. ("Missing Persons Commission disposes of 4,616 cases till 30 July, 2020," Pakistan Today, 4 August 2020)

 
The government decides to start the educational institutions (Image Source: The News)

 

From 15 September, Schools and Educational institutions will reopen in phases, says federal Education Minister

Following a virtual meeting of the Inter-Provincial Education Ministers' Conference (IPEMC) and that of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), while addressing a press conference, the federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood announced the reopening of educational institutions across the country in phases from 15 September. SAPM on National Health Services Dr Faisal Sultan accompanied Mr Mehmood at the press conference. The institutions have remained closed for over six months due to the highly proliferous global Covid-19 pandemic. ("Educational institutions to reopen in phases from 15th," Dawn, 8 September 2020)

The phases and restrictions
According to the minister: The first phase will include all higher educational institutions, including professional colleges, vocational institutes, universities, and secondary and higher secondary schools (classes nine till 12). These classes will resume on 15 September. The second phase, starting on 23 September (following a fresh review), will include the reopening of classes six, seven and eight, followed by primary schools on 30 September, in accordance with the government's standards operating procedure (SOPs).

The institutions were also warned of action in case of violation of the government's SOPs, including students' sitting arrangements with a six-foot distance, wearing masks by students, teachers and school staff alike, and sufficient facilities for hand sanitizing and washing. The number of students would also be limited in order to avoid the spread of the virus. According to Dawn, the number of students would have to be halved in order to ensure social distancing. 

 
Imran Khan unveiling the financial package for Karachi last week (Image Source: Dawn)

In Brief 

INTERNAL
Centre and Sindh fight over the ownership Rs300bn KCR
Both the federal and Sindh governments are fighting over the ownership of Rs300 billion Karachi Circular Railway (KCR). Prime Minister Imran Khan claimed its cost in their share of investment under the Rs1.1 trillion Karachi Transformation Project (KTP). Further, the Planning Commission (PC) stated that the federal government had committed projects with an additional cost of Rs736bn under the KTP and would seek diversion of Rs125bn expected from the Bahria Town settlement fund to finance it. On the other hand, the Sindh government shows the KCR project in its portfolio of Rs802bn as part of the KTP and includes Rs50.8bn as its share and the remaining Rs249.2bn as Chinese loan. (Khaleeq Kiani, "Centre, Sindh claim control over Rs300bn KCR," Dawn, 8 September 2020)

Another polio case reported in Balochistan
Another case of poliovirus has been detected in Balochistan where a 15-month-old child from Pishin district has been diagnosed with the virus. According to the Dawn, the health department's officials stated that samples of the child were collected on 19 and 20 August, however, the parents of the affected child refused to get their child vaccinated when polio teams visited their home during anti-polio campaigns. This addition brings the number of polio cases in Balochistan to 18 only in this year. Further, in the current year, 22 cases have been reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 21 cases from Sindh, 18 from Balochistan and eight cases from Punjab have been reported so far. Totalling it at 69 cases so far when compared to 147 cases in 2019 and only 12 cases in 2018. (Khaleeq Kiani, "Another child from Balochistan contracts poliovirus," Dawn, 8 September 2020)

ISPR confirms that Waseem Zakeria, a mastermind behind the militant attacks was killed during an intelligence operation in North Waziristan
On 7 September, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) confirmed that a mastermind of militant attacks along with four accomplices were also killed during an intelligence operation in North Waziristan tribal district. According to the Daw, the statement issued by the ISPR stated that the deceased terrorist, Waseem Zakeria, was the mastermind of 30 attacks, including the targeted killing of government officials and security forces personnel. Further, Zakeria was also said to be involved in the assassination of Zubaidullah Khan, a CSP officer of the Federal Information Group, posted as director of the Pakistan Housing Authority in Islamabad. Further, 10 other terrorists were also arrested during the operation near Mirali. (Khaleeq Kiani, "'Mastermind' of militant attacks among five killed in North Waziristan," Dawn, 8 September 2020)

NA and Senate to hold sessions for passage FATF bills 
On 7 September, Prime Minister Imran Khan decided on stating new sessions of the National Assembly and the Senate on 14 and 15 September to get the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and other important bills passed from the two houses. This decision was made during a meeting between the PM and his adviser on parliamentary affairs. This meeting came after the postponement of the Senate and National Assembly sessions scheduled for 7 September due to devastation caused by the recent rains across the country. Further, other matters were also discussed during the meeting. (Syed Irfan Raza, "NA, Senate sessions slated for next week to get FATF bills passed," Dawn, 8 September 2020)

The Karachi rescue plan another point of PTI-PPP contestation says Editorial
The Editorial speaks of how the Karachi rescue plan quickly becomes another item over which PTI and PPP exchange accusations. It says that the plan was on the right track until PM Khan's Karachi visit on 5 September, during which he announced the historic Rs1.1 trillion Karachi Transformation Plan (KTP). Despite everyone on agreement regarding the plan and its implementation being crucial, the moment the PPP chairman said that Sindh government would provide the lion's share – Rs800 billion of the total amount. ("Rescuing the rescue plan?," Daily Times, 8 September 2020)

EXTERNAL
FIA arrests transnational gang allegedly involved in illegal organ transplant in China
On 7 August, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has busted a transnational gang allegedly involved in illegal organ transplant in China after it conducted a raid at the passport office. The rain was conducted on the directions of FIA Punjab Zone-I Deputy Director on receiving intel that an international gang was active in Lahore in the illegal transplant of human organs. Seven suspects, including donors and agents, have been arrested. These gangs have been said to motivate poor and needy people to sell their liver and kidney and then had the organ transplant conducted in China. Further, the FIA had previously arrested several suspects involved in illegal human organ transplant, especially in Punjab. (Zulqernain Tahir, "Illegal organ transplant gang with contacts in China busted," Dawn, 8 September 2020)

 

 


"The alleged abduction of citizens and failure on part of law enforcing agencies to trace their whereabouts and prosecute and punish the perpetrators of this most heinous crime appears to have become a norm. There is no accountability. It appears though the protectors of fundamental rights have become silent spectators to this most abhorrent violation of fundamental rights"

-  Chief Justice, Islamabad High Court on Enforced Disappearances

 

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