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Senator warns of tough questions on missing persons in UPR next week

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s delegation to the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review- a process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States- in Geneva next week will have a hard time explaining mysterious disappearances of citizens at the hands of mysterious elements with alarming impunity, said Senator Farhatullah Babar.

Speaking to point attention towards the disappearance of wife and children of a Baloch nationalist leader, Senator Farhatullah Babar said that activists dissenting with state narrative faced three threats: They disappear mysteriously; charged under the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act for endangering integrity of the federation; or beaten black and blue in broad day light. The latest disappearance of the family of a Baloch dissident; the prosecution of a journalist in Quetta for posting comments viewed as critical of a security agency under The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act; and the beating of journalist Ahmad Noorani in Islamabad demonstrated this dangerous trend in stifling dissent, he said. He said that after 2012, last time when Pakistan’s human rights record was reviewed, the situation had further deteriorated.

He said in September last year, the human rights committee meeting in Karachi made recommendations about addressing the issue of missing persons in the province. When the committee again visited the city last month, it was shocked to find that more people had disappeared in what was clearly a rebuff to the Senate committee, he said. Till today, not one person had been charged or investigated for involvement in the crime, he said.

The unanimous recommendations of the Senate over a year ago remain unimplemented. “This is the curtain raiser of news reports on the eve of UN review of our human rights record but the state is oblivious of it or just does not care,” he said. Taking part in discussion on State Bank of Pakistan’s annual report, Senator Farhatullah Babar said water scarcity and climate change, as pointed out in the report, called for adopting water policy for storage, quality, pricing and conservation of water in the country.

From being a water abundant country, Pakistan had become a water stressed country which now called for a holistic approach to address the issue, he said.

He said that water scarcity was linked to climate change and exploding population. He said Pakistan had committed to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDG) and proposed that the NFC Award should be fashioned to give incentives to provinces for achieving SDG targets. The provinces should also set up Provincial Finance Commissions and link the award to achievements of SDG targets by local governments, he said.

Published in Daily Times, November 2nd 2017.

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