Gilgit-Baltistan: Human Rights violations by Pakistan Discussed at US Foreign Relations Committee
On 6 February 2018, human rights activists raised the issue of human rights violations in Gilgit-Baltistan, Balochistan and against Mohajirs in Karachi in a meeting of the US Foreign Relations Committee, in Washington DC. In the meeting, which was attended by Congressman Ed. Royce and Dana Rohrabacher, the persecution, violence and discrimination suffered by ethnic and religious minorities in these regions was discussed at length. Congressman Rohrabacher denounced Pakistan’s atrocities against the Mohajirs and Balochs, such as extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances. The impunity of state and non-state actors in committing gross human rights violations against these communities and minorities was given particular attention.
The article below was published in ANI News:
The Free Karachi Team attended the Foreign Relations Committee meeting on the United States-Pakistan relations here on Tuesday to discuss the human rights violations by Islamabad against the Mohajirs.
The Chairman of the US Foreign Relations Committee, Congressman Ed. Royce, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Seth Jones, Director, Transnational Threats Project and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Jeff M. Smith of the leading US think-tank Heritage Foundation were present in the meeting.
The members discussed issues such as- gross human rights violations in Pakistan's port city of Karachi, victimisation of Mohajirs and the role of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in promoting terrorism.
In his briefing to the Committee hearing, Rohrabacher denounced Pakistan's atrocities against Mohajirs and Balochs in Pakistan.
He specifically mentioned the extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) members in Karachi.
Smith also criticised without mincing words on the deplorable human rights conditions in Pakistan and particularly mentioned the plight of Mohajirs.
He said, "For too long the US has turned a blind eye to what is by all accounts a deeply troubling human rights situation in Pakistan. Women, Christians, Shi'ites, ethnic minorities like the Baloch, the forgotten people of Gilgit-Baltistan, and Islamic sects like the Ahmadis, are regularly subjected to violence, persecution, discrimination, and state-supported repression. Journalists critical of Pakistan's military and intelligence services routinely "disappear" too."
Nusrat, spokesperson for the Free Karachi Team expressed his deep gratitude to those members of the Congress and other participants who highlighted the human rights violations in urban Sindh in their briefing and testimony.
He said that well over 25,000 Mohajirs have been killed by Pakistani security forces extrajudicially since 1992 and this near-genocide of Mohajirs in Pakistan continues unabated. Thousands of Mohajirs are either missing or missing after being taken into custody by Pakistan's Punjab-dominated law enforcement agencies.
Nusrat added that the Free Karachi Team will continue to work as an advocacy group and ensure to give justice to the Mohajirs.
Amnesty International, a human rights organisation, noted that in recent years Pakistan's security forces perpetrated human rights violations such as arbitrary arrests, torture and other ill-treatment, and extrajudicial executions.
It said that security laws and practices and the absence of any independent mechanisms to investigate the security forces and hold them accountable, allowed government forces to commit such violations with near-total impunity. State and non-state actors continue to harass, threaten, detain and kill human rights defenders, especially in Balochistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Karachi.
Mohajirs, the immigrants that migrated to Pakistan from India after the Partition in 1947, have also complained of mass-scale human rights violations at the hands of Pakistan's security forces as economic, political, and social injustices.
Based mostly in Karachi, the Mohajirs are one of the few communities in Pakistan to publicly condemn the government's support for extremism and the "Talibanisation" of society.
Meanwhile, the Free Karachi Team gave the participants of the hearing handbills, booklets and copies of the special edition of the Washington Times that described details of injustices and human rights violations that around 70 million Mohajirs have been facing in Pakistan.
Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons