QUETTA – Expressing grave concern over the ‘gross’ violation of human rights in Balochistan, the Functional Committee of Senate on Human Rights has suggested introduction of new laws to bring the security agencies under effective control of the civilian government.

Rejecting a report presented by the home department over law and order situation in the province, the committee asked Balochistan government to release all political prisoners and start dialogue with disgruntled Balochs forthwith, besides summoning an All-Party Conference on the issue.

The meeting of committee was presided over by its chairman Afarsiab Khattak here on Wednesday. Committee members including Senator Soria Amirud Din, Senator Hafiz Rasheed and Senator Farhat Abass, and other authorities attended the meeting. Talking to the media after the meeting Senator Afarsiab Khattak said that the situation in the province was too abysmal as human right had been violated in the provinces at a large scale. He lamented the non-recovery of missing persons, kidnapping for ransom and incidents of targeted killings. But, he said the issue of recovery of decomposed bodies was terrible of all and intelligence agencies were being held responsible for it.

The committee chairman said federal and provincial governments should take notice of this serious issue and bring the culprits to book. He also condemned incidents of targeted killing by separatist, saying some militant groups are also targeting labourers and teachers. “Violence in any shape is wrong and unjustified. Those who are involved in these killings are not the well-wishers of Balochistan,” he said.

But Khattak said: “If government would not investigate these incidents, people would think that state is itself involved in these incidents… There is a common perception that secret agencies are involved in enforced disappearances and dumping of mutilated bodies. If this is true, then government should control its institutions as they are damaging Pakistan’s sovereignty.”

The ANP leader assured that he would raise the issue of recovery of decomposed bodies in the parliament, and urged the judiciary to also take notice of it. He said that he would ask the parliament to make the intelligence agencies bound to work under the control of government. Earlier, during the meeting, the committee suggested that laws should be introduced to curtail the power and influence of security agencies and that they should be brought under parliamentary control.

Showing his concerns over increasing number of kidnappings for ransom cases in the province, Khattak assured that the committee would also raise this issue in the parliament. The kidnapping for ransom was causing the migration of teachers, doctors and other professionals from the province to other parts of the country, he said, terming the trend damaging for the people.

To a question, he said that whoever was involved in the incidents of kidnapping for ransom, be they ministers, stern action should be taken against them because no one was above the law. “Government must take concrete steps to curb incidents of kidnapping for ransom,” he urged, adding that members of Hindu community were also compelled to migrate owing to increasing incidents of kidnapping. He said the committee will pressure the provincial government to ensure the protection of life and property of the minorities.

Khattak said that the issue of targeted killing of members of Hazara community was also raised in the committee’s meeting and it expressed serious concern over it. “It is responsibility of the government to ensure security of Hazara community. The targeted killings of Hazara people is being given sectarian colour but it is a case of terrorism in fact,” he added.

Responding to a question, the committee chairman said that targeting civilians in the name of nationalism or religion was totally wrong and unacceptable, and those involved in such acts were not well-wishers of Balochistan. “We condemn every kind of violation of human rights along with the target killing of labourers,” he added.

Referring to US Congress’ hearings on Balochistan, he said that they had come here to assess the human rights situation and this was not a political meeting, however, he said that they oppose any foreign interference. But he added that recovery of mutilated bodies gave a message that the state and its institutions did not consider the people of the land as their own people. “The people will definitely look to others for help if they are continuously pushed against the wall,” he said, adding “we should not give others chance to interfere in our affairs”.

Senator Khattak said that the government cannot get away by just stating that foreign elements are involved in destabilising this province. “They should investigate what circumstances have paved way for foreign involvement. The people will look towards foreigners if their rights are trampled down by their own people,” he said.

Khattak said that government should initiate dialogue with annoyed Baloch leaders to address their grievances for a durable peace in Balochistan. “If government can hold talks with the Taliban terrorists, why it cannot hold dialogue with the Baloch brothers,” he questioned.

Senator Hafiz Rasheed disclosed in the meeting that his father was kidnapped and his release was secured after paying ransom through a bureaucrat.

Khattak said that the report presented to the committee carrying input from different provincial departments and NGOs on Balochistan’s human rights situation was highly unsatisfactory. He informed that the meeting also deliberated on the murder of police surgeon Dr Baqar Shah, key witness of Kharotabad massacre of foreign nationals. He said the committee has sought a report on the investigations that were carried out under supervision of a judge.

Balochistan Home Secretary Naseebullah Khan Bazai briefing the meeting said that 80 percent accused used mobile phones for crimes. Khattak said that the committee had directed for installations of jamers in all jails. “If Jamers can be installed in the parliament then why these cannot be installed in jails,” he questioned.

Earlier, addressing to the committee, he said that the fruit of 18th constitutional amendment could not reach the people causing disappointment among them. He said that after 18th amendment the role of federal government in development process had been reduced and now it was the responsibility of the provincial governments to carry out development projects for their people. He said that a big part of resources had been given to provinces after the amendment.