Fri, 01 Dec 2023

Geneva [Switzerland] September 27 (ANI): Political activists from Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa accused Pakistan of violating human rights during the 54th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on WednesdayHidayat Ullah Bhutto, organiser of UK and Europe, World Sindhi Congress, said in his intervention,"Although violence against Sindhi Hindus has been a dark thread in Pakistan's history, forcing approximately 80% of them to flee their ancestral homeland since the country's inception. However, recent years have witnessed an alarming escalation".

He added,"Sindhi Hindus now face multi-faceted, state-sanctioned attacks. This includes forced conversions of around 20 girls per month, mostly minor girls, desecration of places of worship, attacks on their properties and businesses, blasphemy charges, and abductions carried out by bandit gangs, includingchildren, girls and elderly".

Hidayat Bhutto told the Council that "heart-wrenching videos of chained and tortured victims" are being disseminated on social media platforms, deepening the community's trauma.

He added,"These heinous acts are part of a coordinated campaign designed and implemented by Pakistan state agencies and their proxies to create such unbearable conditions for Sindhi Hindus to coerce them into abandoning their homes, lands, and businesses. This is part of a broader strategy to convert Sindhis into a minority in their own homeland, thereby making it easier for the state to grab their resources".

Lakhumal Luhana, the secretary general of the World Sindhi Congress said,"We want to draw the Council's urgent attention to the announcement of the Pakistan army to acquire 1.3 million acres of land in Sindh for corporate farming that will severely impact the rights of millions of Sindhi people to life, food, and economic wellbeing".

He added,"The process of land grab started with the inception of Pakistan when 80% of Sindhi Hindus were coerced to leave and their lands were plundered and distributed to people from outside Sindh. In the years following the completion of Ghulam Muhammad Barrage in 1955, millions of acres of new lands were abhorrently given to the army and their proxies in complete disregard of the rights of local communities".

Lakhumal said the agricultural lands of Sindh continued to be allotted to the army and their proxies for one or another reason and currently millions of acres are in their possession. The land grab in Sindh has significantly contributed, as more than 70% of Sindhi people suffer multi-dimensional poverty and malnutrition and resulting diseases, displacement, and death. The proposed new acquisition will further aggravate their pain, he added.

Munir Mengal, the president of Baloch Voice Association also lambasted on Pakistan and draw the attention of Council on human rights violations in Balochistan.

"It is to be brought to the notice of the Human Rights council that Balochistan's 60% population is living below the poverty line and ongoing CPEC project (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) has become a major concern with regard to Balochistan's resource exploitation, loss of local employment andlivelihoods. It has caused socio-economic catastrophe in the region", Munir told the Council.

He added,"With Chinese presence in Balochistan and Pakistan's disregard for the region and Its people has led to plundering of Balochistan's resources in a multifarious way, and there has been little benefit to the locals despite multiple extraction operations in their land".

Munir said fishermen of Balochistan has been adversely impacted by the Chinese advanced trawlers exploiting their catch in scale. In October 2020, itself they protested against Pakistan government for allowing Chinese trawlers in their fishing zones surreptitiously.

Doaa Jafari of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement turned the council's attention towards the systematic use of torture by the Pakistan Army on Pashtun Human Rights Defenders, particularly members of the Pashtun Tahhafuz Movement (PTM).

"On May 31, 2023, PTM activists Eid ur Rehman Wazir and later Gilaman Wazir were illegally detained by the Pakistan Army. During detention, both of them were tortured mentally and physically. They were forced to record statements against PTM to malign the image of this peaceful non-violent movement advocating the rights of Pashtuns," she told the Council.Jafari said Pakistan re-settled more than 6,000 active TTP members along with their families in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and fully supporting them while PTM activists are arbitrarily detained, tortured and killed in custody.

PTM urged the Pakistan Army not to support terrorist groups and ensure peace and security in Pashtun-dominated areas of Pakistan. Instead of listening to their grievances the state of Pakistan has detained and tortured hundreds of PTM workers who are protesting against an alarming increase in Enforced disappearances, target killings, arbitrary detentions and torture by the Pakistan Army in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. All those arrested and detained are tortured systematically in custody.

The young Pashtun activist urged the UN to take up this issue of torture with Pakistan, signatory to the UN Convention against torture, and establish a Judicial Enquiry Commission to find the "culprits and punish them". (ANI)

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