Posts tagged ‘forces’

June 30, 2011

State of human rights: Security forces calling the shots in Balochistan, says HRCP

Gas pipeline blown up in Dera Bugti. PHOTO: FILE/ONLINE


Security forces are calling the shots in Balochistan while the provincial government “seems non-existent”, according the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Wednesday.

Releasing a report titled ‘Balochistan: Blinkered Slide into Chaos’ at a press conference, the HRCP painted an alarming picture of the situation in the restive province, warning that it could get even worse if immediate steps were not taken.

The report accused the security forces of being behind enforced disappearances in the province, and said that the bodies of 140 missing persons had been found, while 71 people were still missing in the province since July 2010 to May this year

“The Balochistan government seems non-existent…

They have surrendered their authority to security forces and they (forces) are calling the shots,” said HRCP Chairperson Zohra Yusuf at the press conference, which was also addressed by HRCP Secretary-General IA Rehman, President Supreme Court Bar Association and former chairperson of HRCP Asma Jehangir, Council member Hina Jillani and Saleema Hashmi.

The report says that 18 people were murdered in target killings, while five innocent citizens became victims of sectarian killings during 2011 in Balochistan.

The mission observed that there were credible allegations of the involvement of security forces, particularly the Frontier Constabulary (FC), in the cases of enforced disappearances. “There was material on record to substantiate claims of the families that the victims were disappeared by the FC or had been killed while in custody,” says the report.

The mission learnt that agents of the state as well as the insurgents and extremists operating in the province share a common disregard for rights of the citizens. “The insurgents have murdered ‘settlers’ in target killings with impunity, while the extremists have treated the members of religious minorities as fair game,” the commission further observed.

“Enforced disappearances continue to be reported from all parts of the province and little headway has been made in ensuring the release of a large number of missing persons from unacknowledged custody of security agencies,” Jahangir said while quoting the findings of the report.

The HRCP chairperson said that there was a sense of alienation among the people of Balochistan.  Yusuf added that there is a disturbing trend of bodies of missing persons being found with signs of torture.

Hina Jilani said that there was an imbalance between civil-military relations in the province, adding that there is no political space. “There is no mechanism of accountability of security forces and they do not interact with the public,” she said.

IA Rehman said that they should make it clear that the issue of Balochistan is not one of law and order, but a political issue.

The report says that the FIRs registered against personnel of security forces in enforced disappearances remained uninvestigated without exception and courts had failed to ensure compliance with their orders.

The fact-finding commission says that at least 78 organised gangs were reported to be involved in abduction for ransom in the province and there was a widespread perception that criminal gangs and individuals involved in heinous crime enjoyed support of politicians and security forces.

The commission observed that ‘Inquiry Commission on Enforced Disappearances’ set up to investigate the cases of the missing persons had been largely ineffective, leading to people’s frustration.

The fact-finding commission says that use of forces rather than political engagement remained the preferred approach in Balochistan and the promises made in the Balochistan Package remained little more than promises.

The commission has recommended that the illegal practice of enforced disappearances stop and all security forces in the province be brought under civilian control. It recommended that the powers of decision making and governance must be restored to civilian political authorities in the province.

A detained person must be promptly informed about the charges against him and in accordance with the constitutional guarantees, should be produced in court within 24 hours and his due process rights should be respected and facilitated, the commission said.

June 30, 2011

Taliban Threat: Afghan and coalition forces recover 100 caches in 10 days

One cache recovered had rockets, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. PHOTO: AFP

KABUL: The expected Taliban summer surge seemed to have matured when six militants stormed the Intercontinental hotel late on Tuesday night. Further evidence to increased Taliban activity was discovered after Afghan security forces started discovering caches of weapons by the dozen over the past two weeks.

An ISAF release said that Afghan National Security Forces had been recovering caches in villages, thereby thwarting terrorist activity. “Taking weapons and communication equipment out of the hands of the enemy is one way to disrupt its network – and one many Afghan civilians are helping with,” said German Army Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, International Security Forces Afghanistan spokesman, during a press conference held on June 27.

The release said that the Afghan and coalition forces had seized more than 100 weapons caches in the past two weeks which were used to carry out insurgent attacks. For example, one cache contained more than 35 rockets, 24 mortars and 22 rocket propelled grenades.

Tips from Afghan citizens have aided forces in finding the caches, which is a sign of their trust in ANSF and their local police forces – the Afghan Local Police (ALP), said Blotz.

The ALP forces are selected by their community to provide local defence against insurgents and are trained by the Afghan Ministry of Interior (MOI). They are legitimate, enrolled members of the MOI.

“They are not militia. They are vetted, trained, and enrolled by the MOI, and, where available, wear a distinctive brown uniform,” said Blotz.

Role of ALP highlighted

The ALP has been instrumental in protecting the local populace. Today, there are 41 validated sites with more than 6,500 members, said Blotz.

“Afghan National Security Forces grow stronger every day,” said Dominic Medley, NATO senior civilian representative’s spokesman. “The transition is on track. In 2014, Afghanistan’s security will rest with the ANSF and that’s exactly where it should be.”

“The ANSF are showing more and more resolve,” stated Blotz. “We salute them for their resilience and commitment to their country.”

Increased Taliban activity

Traditionally, the summer months see increased insurgent activity. This was witnessed in the rising number of cross border Taliban attacks into Pakistan from Afghanistan.

The recent jailbreak where Taliban were able to aid the escape of up to 500 of their comrades is believed to have bolstered Taliban ranks.

The Afghan security forces now face a stiff challenge of tackling with the Taliban in wake of the US troop drawdown announced by US President Obama a few days ago which will see up to 30,000 troops being withdrawn by the end of 2012 and more territories being handed over to the Afghan security forces.