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Rights defenders demand Pakistan to immediately criminalize practice of enforced disappearances in the country

Rights activists and families of the so-called “missing persons” rallied Tuesday in Islamabad to condemn the detentions as serious human rights violations

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Representational Image (Lawyers Movement in Pakistan). Image source: Wikimedia Commons

ISLAMABAD, August 31, 2016: Rights defenders in Pakistan demand the Government to immediately criminalize the practice of enforced disappearances in the country which have caused years of agony to thousands of families across the nation.

Pakistani security forces have been battling extremist and militant groups since the country joined the U.S.-led war on terror in 2001. Critics allege the anti-terrorism operations have resulted in thousands of Pakistanis being detained by state security institutions, without their whereabouts and health conditions being made available to family members or attorneys.

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“In Pakistan, the practice of enforced disappearance has in recent years become a nationwide problem. … To date, not a single perpetrator has been held to account,” said the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan to mark the International Day of the Disappeared.

Rights activists and families of the so-called “missing persons” rallied Tuesday in Islamabad to condemn the detentions as serious human rights violations.

Protesters demanded the Pakistan government immediately ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Without signing the document, they say, the country would not feel the pressure to criminalize the practice of illegal detentions by making laws to protect constitutional rights of Pakistani citizens.

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A rally organizer, Tahira Abdullah, said human rights defenders in Pakistan recognize the threat of terrorism and extremism facing the country.

Call for openness

“If you want to arrest someone whom you suspect of being a terrorist, an extremist, a militant, a jihadi, anything, arrest them,” Abdullah said. “But the laws of Pakistan, the constitution of Pakistan must be upheld and the case must be produced in an open court so that we know what the charges against them are.

“You can’t keep people disappeared and in internment camps like Guantanamo Bay. We have Pakistani Guantanamo Bays. This is unconstitutional, it is illegal and it must not be allowed to continue,” she said.

Pakistani security agencies have repeatedly denied they have forcibly sequestered, tortured and killed people in the name of counterterrorism.

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Despite the official denials, Pakistan’s Supreme Court has acknowledged, and human rights groups have documented, evidence of the involvement of state institutions in the abuses in the name of counterterrorism.

A government-appointed inquiry commission has been investigating the complaints since March 2011.

Of the more than 3,500 cases it had received as of July this year, around 2,100 have been disposed of. The remaining nearly 1,400 include 500 cases the commission has received in the past seven months, according to officials.

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But critics question the independence and autonomy of the state panel, saying it does not disclose details about where those people were during the period they could not be traced by their families.

Rights activists also allege those who have returned to their families remain under pressure from security agencies not to discuss what happened to them. (VOA)

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Our Government is Working To Eliminate Tuberculosis From The Country by 2025: Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan

He said to achieve the goal, the government's programme 'Mission Indradhanush' is already operational

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Harsh Vardhan
Referring to the Union Government's Ayushman Bharat scheme, Dr. Harsh Vardhan called it an "ambitious programme", under which 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres will be set up across India by the end of 2022. Wikimedia Commons

The central government is working to eradicate tuberculosis from India by 2015 besides taking active measures to eliminate diseases like kala-azar and measles from the country, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Saturday.

“By 2025, we wish to eliminate tuberculosis from India. We have taken up an amibitious universal immunisation programme delivered to 100 per cent people all over the country,” the minister told mediapersons on the sidelines of the Rotary India Centennial Summit here.

He said to achieve the goal, the government’s programme ‘Mission Indradhanush’ is already operational.

“We are also working for the elimination of many other diseases in the country like Kala-azar and measles,” the minister said.

Tuberculosis
Here are Symptoms associated with Tuberculosis. Wikimedia Commons

Refering to the Union government’s Ayushman Bharat scheme, he called it an “ambitious programme”, under which 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres will be set up across India by the end of 2022.

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“So far, 30,000 are being set up and by March-end we will have around 40,000 centres”, he said. (IANS)