According to the sources of Daily Notable, The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has concluded a high-profile fact-finding mission to northern Sindh and expressed its alarm over the state of law and order, the high incidence of gender-based violence, safety of journalists and slow pace of rehabilitation of flood-affected communities.
The mission is also concerned by the level of political and feudal influence over state institutions and agencies, which makes people’s access to justice unpredictable and affects their ability to realise their rights.
The mission comprised HRCP chairperson Hina Jilani, vice-chair Sindh Qazi Khizer Habib, Council member Sadia Bokhari, and senior activist Imdad Chandio. Accompanied by HRCP co-chair Asad Iqbal Butt, the team visited Ghotki, Kandkhot, Jacobabad and Larkana.
Of particular concern to the mission were reports that families affected by the devastating 2022 floods have yet to receive compensation or assistance in rebuilding their homes. The mission was told by the deputy commissioner in Qambar Shahdadkot that over 142,000 in this area alone had been destroyed.
Additionally, the number of schools destroyed have severely interrupted children’s education, with little sign of the situation improving.
The mission was alarmed to find that at least 300 cases of kidnapping for ransom were reported in Ghotki, with women and children the primary targets. Police reports suggest that military-grade weapons have been used in such instances, allegedly sourced from Balochistan and thus calling into question provincial border security, although residents have alleged the complicity of security forces, given the hundreds of check-posts that line the border.
The incidence of forced conversions was raised by numerous respondents, who said that they now feared sending their daughters to school in case they were abducted for this purpose. The mission also noted reports of extrajudicial killings as well as law enforcement agencies’ view that the police remain vulnerable to losses, given the poor state of law and order.
During their visit to Kandhkot and Jacobabad—which appears to account for the highest rate of karo kari [honour killings] in the province—the mission was appalled to learn that victims included underage girls, married women and even elderly women. Victims’ families also complained of needlessly long delays in investigation as well as in the courts.
The mission was concerned to learn that journalists based in Ghotki, Kandhkot and Larkana found it difficult to report against influential persons for fear of reprisal in the shape of death threats, kidnappings, assault and fabricated FIRs.
During their visit to Larkana, the mission found that reports of enforced disappearances were rampant, with victims’ families complaining that they were forced to travel to Karachi to attend successive hearings of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances—in many cases, this was financially impossible to sustain.
Families also recounted receiving threatening phone calls from unidentified persons when they reported such cases. – PUNA