On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, Defend International member Mr. Zar Ali khan Afridi, chairman of Tribal NGOs Consortium and executive director of Society for Rights and Development, issued a statement on the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan.
Human Rights Day and Violation of Human Rights in FATA
December 10, 2014
By Zar Ali Khan Afridi
December 10 is celebrated as International Human Rights Day throughout the world. Pakistan is signatory of Universal Declaration on Human Rights and it has ratified it also. Over all situations of Human Rights in Pakistan are not ideal. Rights in Pakistan are not accepted and citizens face hardships and troubles in getting things done. Every government claims to fulfill promises made before elections but soon they turned back and forget what they say before their elections. Pakistan has remained under dictatorial regimes for quite some time and it is reason that democracy has not been allowed travel its distance. Pakistan is no less than a hell for religious minorities and religious sects like Shia, Ahmadis, Ismailia’s, Hindus Sikhs and Christians. Thousands Hindus left Sindh a province of Pakistan due to duress of the Muslim majority and went to India to get a sigh of relief there. Many Christian’s families were set alive on fire in most parts of the country especially in Punjab. Their houses were set on fire and were demolished. Recently a Christian couple in Qasur Punjab was put in brick kiln alive after who had a monetary dispute between couple and brick kiln owner. The owner alleged the couple to have committed blasphemy. This is a tragic incident of human rights violation one has ever witnessed.
Federally Administered Tribal Areas called FATA which is known as worst place on the earth due to militancy and terrorism. This area can also be known as a Human Rights free Zone. Frontier Crimes Regulations of 1901 is itself an anti human regulation. Article 247 of Pakistan Constitution 1973 deprives legislators of FATA to legislate for the area they are representing. People are also restricted to seek justice through courts because courts have no jurisdiction in FATA. Even cases related to fundamental human rights can not be taken to courts. A political Agent and his subordinates are the people at helm of affairs and decide the fates of people. They are police, prosecutors, lawyers and judges at same time. Their decision is final. This itself a violation of basic human rights of the people of FATA. The reason is that terrorists from around the globe gathered in FATA and started terrorism with support of some state and anti state actors in Pakistan. 11000 tribal elders, political and social activists, Human rights defenders and women rights defenders were targeted . Famous among them are Zarteef Khan Afridi, Fareeda Afridi, Master Khan Habib Afridi, Mukarram Khan Atif, Haji Gherat Khan Afridi, Malik Dawa Khan Afridi, Farooq Wazir and his father Malik Mirza Alam Khan wazir along with 9 other family members assassinated on one day. The list is long but it is just an example and tip of ice berg.
In 2011 FCR was amended and some light changes were announced. Territorial responsibility clause was amended and it was added that male children under 16 years’ age and male members of families above 65 years of age will not be arrested and detained. But still children and aged persons are detained and put in lock ups of political administration. The recent detention of Ihtisham Mullagori of Jamrud Khyber Agency is just an eye opener for the state.
Human Rights Defenders like Ali Wazir of South Waziristan and Muhammad Hassan from Parachinar Kurram Agency are still teased and tormented by state agencies and political and district administrations. Ali Wazir was arrested last day but soon was released. Muhammad Hassan who has some land dispute with his relatives is also tortured by political administration due to his work for the rights of his people. Now a day he is under house arrest and needs assistance legal and financial both. Offices of NGOs working for human rights in FATA were closed and many were blown up by terrorists. Working in FATA as a human rights defender is hard but still HRDs are engaged doing it and face problems but their determination to work for the rights of people keeps them stuck to their work despite having myriad issues. Under FCR thousands of people are still jailed in different parts of the country. Dr Shakeel Afridi who was alleged to have worked for CIA to track down Osama Bin Laden is one of them who has been languishing in jail. His family is not allowed to meet him. His lawyers are deprived of visiting their client. His brother Jameel Afridi has been visiting Peshawar since 2011 but only once he was allowed to meet his brother and still he is waiting to see how his brother is? He also belongs to FATA and needs free and fair judicial trial.
More than 2.5 million Internally Displaced Persons from FATA including women. Children and aged and ailing people are living a miserable life in camps if there are any and in host families or in rented houses in different parts of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the rest of Pakistan. Three provinces out of four refused to accommodate them in their areas. Children and women are suffering from many issues like food, water, proper shelter, clothes and diseases. Government has left them like cattle and animals. They were ordered to leave their respective areas to cleanse militancy but were not given any alternative. Operation in North Waziristan started in June last 2014 and is still going on without knowing any progress. People demand for repatriation to their homes but government has been changing words and is using tactics to prolong the worries and troubles of the people. IDPs from Khyber Agency are no less than their fellows IDPs. People from Frontier Regions of FATA are even not recognized as IDPs and government has done nothing to support them.
Zar Ali Khan Afridi
Human Rights Defender & Chairman of Tribal NGOs Consortium