ISLAMABAD: Senator Farhatullah Babar said Tuesday that the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and parts of Balochistan have become black holes for detainees held by security agencies and honest answers must be given regarding the running of internment centres in these areas which have turned into Guantanamo Bay like prisons.
He said this at an event organised by the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) at the International Islamic University Islamabad to commemorate the Human Rights Day.
He said that in order to retain respect and support, the NCHR must be independent of the executive and should also be allowed to raise funds on its own. He also said that the FATA black hole was also linked to the state’s Afghan policy which must be revisited as part of the human rights agenda.
The senator further said that freedom of expression was also intertwined with civil military relations and called for a bipartisan parliamentary committee for democratic accountability of foreign and security polices in the “dangerously imbalanced civil-military relations”.
The impunity with which violence against media persons and human rights defenders was committed in the country must be ended, as well as the charade of accusing non-governmental organisations of pursuing foreign agendas without offering any proof, he added.
Human rights are threatened by succumbing to the rule of the mob as was witnessed in the recent Faizabad dharna, he said.
Elaborating further on his comment, Babar said, “Something profound happened on that day. The state and society surrendered. A dangerous template was created to reject the rule of law as the guarantor of human rights. Politics of hate and intolerance triumphed over human rights.”
Moreover, he said that the commitment to safeguarding human rights in the subcontinent was made before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1928 when the people of India were asked to suggest a draft constitution, the foremost item was emphasis on human rights, he said.
In addition, Babar said that, “Right to life had been threatened by extra judicial killings, enforced disappearances and arbitrariness in the application of death sentences.” He lamented that the parliament, the Supreme Court, the Commission on Enforced Disappearances and the NCHR all appeared helpless in this regard.
He stressed that the right to freedom of expression was the ‘fountain of all freedoms’ which had presently come under attack from the state and non-state actors alike.
He also said that the ideology brigade had prevented free discussion on misapplication of faith related laws. The security brigade had also prevented free discussion in the name of what it called ‘national security’, he added.