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Amendment Bill will not end menace of enforced disappearances

Islamabad June 24, 2021: Senator Farhatullah Babar secretary general of the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians has issued the following statement on the Bill recently introduced in the National Assembly ostensibly to curb the practice of enforced disappearances.

“On June 7 about twenty legislative items were listed on the Orders of the National Assembly. In the din of noise over the legislation for electronic voting machines (EVMs) an amendment Bill introduced by the interior minister escaped public attention and scrutiny.

“The amendment Bill sought to amend some provisions of the Pakistan Penal code and the Code of Criminal Procedure. No speeches were made as it was quickly referred to the relevant committee. As a result it escaped media and public attention as it lay buried in the pile of legislative agenda.

“The amendment Bill acknowledges the crime of enforced disappearance and defines it as “an unlawful or illegal deprivation of liberty by an agent of the state”. However the absence of clarification about the mandate of intelligence agencies, allegedly behind the crime has made it gravely problematic.

“This clarification is critical as during hearings in cases of enforced disappearances before superior courts the ISI claimed to have ‘lawful’ authority to arrest persons engaged in anti state activities even though there is no legislation about it. It therefore remains a grey area that allows state agencies to cover up enforced disappearances.

“Enforced Disappearances must be treated as a separate autonomous crime. A separate legal mechanism needs to be provided for taking up complaints, holding perpetrators accountable and providing for compensation to the aggrieved families. The amendment Bill does not meet these requirements.

“A holistic approach is needed. Legislation needs to be made to determine the mandate of the ISI, provide guarantees that anyone deprived of liberty is kept at a fully authorized place of detention, provide protection to victims, their families and witnesses and also compensation to them.

“Ratification of the international convention for the protection of all persons against enforced disappearances should also form part of the new legal architecture to address the issue.

“In mid 1960’s a military dictator made an amendment 2 (1) (d) in the Army Act to give powers to the army to investigate and try in military courts even civilians in some cases. Such a law does not exist even in India and Israel.

“It was under this provision in the army Act that human rights defender Idris Khattak remained disappeared for over 8 months until, as a result of national and international outcry, his custody was acknowledged by security agencies.

“The legislative mechanism must therefore also include undoing this amendment made in the Army Act

“The Bill is crucial to protecting human rights. Any legislation must be piloted by the human rights ministry instead of law enforcing ministry because of fundamental differences in their outlooks and approaches to the issue.

“The amendment bill in its present form will not end the menace.

“The Party cautions against rushing through the bill. It also demands that all stakeholders be invited to discussions in the relevant committee or to public hearings if they are held as provided in the rules of the Parliament”.

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Chairman Bilawal to tour Punjab soon

Islamabad, 23 June 2021: Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari talking to the media at Parliament House in Islamabad on Wednesday strongly condemned the terror incident in Lahore this morning.

He said that there will be an increase in such incidents when the Pakistan policy in Afghan peace process is not correct and some terror organisations are active across the border. I had demanded on the floor of the Assembly that whatever this government is doing covertly and through the backdoor should be brought before the representatives of the people. The government should tell us what its policy is. The Speaker has also accepted our demand and after the budget session the opinion of other parties will also be made known. Regarding meeting of President Zardari with Pervez Ilahi, Chairman PPP said that we are very thankful to Pervez Ilahi who visited Zardari Saheb to inquire about his health. We had achieved many successes in government with Pervez Ilahi’s party and when we increased the buying price of wheat, PML-Q not only appreciated it but itself demanded an increase in buying price thus benefitting growers in Punjab as well.

Chairman PPP said that the government has done injustice to the people of Pakistan and the business community by legislating beyond the demands of FATF. This government has made the situation difficult for the business community and common man by such legislations. This legislation was forcibly passed and also could not take Pakistan out of the grey list. The business community was already suffering due to Covid-19 and continues to do so now because of this legislation.

Regarding proposed APC of the opposition, Chairman Bilawal said that he has already spoken to Shahbaz Sharif about the government’s measures for rigging in the elections, the opposition needs to work together against it. We should not allow the government to rig the elections.

Chairman Bilawal said that he is planning to visit entire Punjab soon and people are contacting him from all over Pakistan to join the PPP. He said that our doors are open for everyone who wants to get rid of the failed and unjustified government. He said that Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has been tasked with contacting everyone who has raised Jeay Bhutto slogan even at the time of his grandfather, mother or worked with his father, he is ready to work with them all. There will be an increase in party’s support base and such people are in contact with the party.

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Imran Khan is using overseas Pakistanis for money

Islamabad, 22 June 2021: Pakistan People’s Party central leader and National Assembly member Dr Nafisa Shah has termed the statement of federal minister Fawad Chaudhry regarding Election Commission as an attack on the Election Comission. She said that PPP fully supports legislations through parliament for transparent elections. Dr Nafisa Shah said that no one would be allowed to issue ordinances and bulldoze bills illegally under the guise of legislation. The Election Commission has exposed the efforts of an incompetent government to weaken the electoral system. By making such statements against the Election Commission, Fawad Chaudhry is trying to weaken the Election Commission by making such statements.

Dr Nafisa Shah said that the Election Commission is an independent and constitutional body. The PPP stands with the Election Commission and other Pakistanis. She said that if the incompetent government had the intention to give the right to vote to overseas Pakistanis, the legislation would have been enacted in a transparent manner instead of issuing ordinances in the darkness of the night. Imran Khan has always kept an eye on the pockets of other Pakistanis and has used them for donations. Imran Khan now wants to collect more money from them.

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Chairman Bilawal’s meetings in the Parliament House

Islamabad, 22 June 2021: Pakistan Peoples Party senators for the Legislative Committee in the Parliament, called on the Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Among those who called on him were Senator Sherry Rehman, Senator Raza Rabbani, Senator Farooq H Naek, Senator Taj Haider and Senator Shahadat Awan. The electoral reforms were discussed during the meeting.

Members of the National Assembly also met with and briefed Chairman PPP on the political situation in their areas. Members who called on the Chairman included Sardar Muhammad Bakhsh Khan Mehr, Abdul Qadir Patel, Rafiq Jamali, Dr. Nafisa Shah, Shazia Ata Marri, Agha Rafiullah, Khurshid Junejo, Shagufta Jamani, Naseeba Chana, Dr. Mehreen Bhutto, Shahida Rahmani and Rifat Mahesar.

President Post Labor Bureau Dawood Shah and Board of Trustees member Hussain Kachchi also called on Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and apprised him of the injustices taking place in the Karachi Labor Board. The delegation complained to the Chairman PPP that a conspiracy was being hatched to lay off 900 people by undermining the independence of the Postal Labor Board. Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Karachi Postal Labor Board was established with the efforts of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and we will defend it as much as possible. Pakistan Peoples Party was, is and will be with the workers. We will not leave the workers alone. National Assembly members Qadir Patel and Agha Rafiullah were also present during the meeting.

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Facilitators should realise that Imran Khan has become a security risk

Islamabad, 22 June 2021: Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari declared Imran Khan’s interview as unfortunate. Talking to media at the parliament house in Islamabad, Chairman Bilawal said that we should side with the victims in the rape cases and Imran Khan is sitting in an office where he has to be very careful about what he says. If he will talk like this then he will send a message that the victims of injustice are at fault as he is making an excuse for those who are committing a crime. Dressing has nothing to do with rape. We will have to review our language and the society will have to take a stance for the victims.

He said that Imran Khan has destroyed every institution. Responding to a question about Osama Bin Ladin, he said that this government is a coward government, Imran Khan was always a coward and was not ready to call a terrorist by name and when our children were brutally murdered in APS he was not ready to call Baitullah Mehsud a terrorist. Osama Bin Ladin is known as a terrorist all around the world. He tried to assassinate the prime minister of Pakistan through Ramzi Yousuf. In 1994 the terrorists wanted to conduct a coup in Pakistan. Does Imran Khan not know that OBL had played a role in terrorizing the entire world? Does he not know that the assassination of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto also points a finger at him? IF OBL is not a terrorist then who is a terrorist? He is a poster boy for terrorists who started this terrorism. He gave a bad name to Islam. Every Pakistani and Muslim has the responsibility to call him a terrorist and he does not represent Islam. Islam is a peaceful religion. We greet each other with peace. Imran Khan will have to review his policy. If our foreign minister cannot talk about OBL on international forum then it will have an impact of Pakistani foreign policy. At the moment the entire world is watching the situation in Afghanistan and our adversaries are trying to find opportunities to accuse us but our Prime Minister on the floor of assembly calls him a Shaheed. Our foreign minister invites terrorists to attack our system then it is the failure of the state, Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood should apologise to the nation and every victim of terrorism. No one should be allowed to terrorise us or the world.

Regarding elections in Kashmir, Chairman Bilawal said that he will soon go to Kashmir and the responses received have been very good. PPP is the only party that is trusted by the Kashmiri people for being able to solve their problems in every situation. They do not trust anyone but the PPP. Prime Minister Khan does not know anything about Kashmir or the nuclear programme. The nuclear programme was founded by Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who used to say that he cannot make a mistake about Kashmir even when asleep. When Modi had attacked Kashmir, our Prime Minister Khan said on the floor of the Assembly presented his ‘plan’. He had said that Kashmir issue will be solved by Modi’s win. Khan Saheb has become a security risk for the country. His policy about Kashmir is a security risk. His statement about nuclear capability has become a security risk. When will the facilitators of Imran Khan become aware of the fact that Khan Saheb is security risk, and will have to go?

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Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s birthday anniversary celebrations

Islamabad, 21 June 2021: Former Prime Minister Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s birthday ceremony was held in the chamber of Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. Shahadat Awan, Senator Rukhsana Zubair, Senator Sikandar Mendro, Senator Imam Din Shoqeen, Senator Behramand Tangi and others were present on the occasion.

Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, while addressing the function, paid homage Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and said that Shaheed Bibi had struggled all her life for the supremacy of parliament and restoration of the constitution. Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto endured immense hardships for the country and the people. Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said that the workers of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto can make the greatest sacrifices but they cannot allow the sanctity of the constitution to be ruined.

Fateha was also offered for Senator Usman Kakar, leader of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party.

After praying for Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, her birthday cake was cut at the ceremony. Meanwhile, Senator Sherry Rehman also cut the birthday cake of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed in the Senate lobby. Moreover, birthday ceremony was also held at the residence of Syed Muhammad Ali Shah and the Central Secretariat of Pakistan Peoples Party while several birthday celebrations were held in Rawalpindi city in which a glowing tributes were paid to Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

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President Zardari and Chairman Bilawal condole the demise of Senator Usman Kakar

Islamabad, 21 June 2021: Former President Asif Ali Zardari and Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari have expressed their grief and shock over the demise of Senator Usman Kakar, leader of Pashtunkhwa MAP.

Former President Asif Ali Zardari said that Senator Usman Kakar was an advocate of the people of Balochistan. He fully represented the people of Balochistan in Parliament. Asif Ali Zardari expressed sympathy and condolences to the bereaved family of Senator Usman Kakar and prayed to Almighty Allah to grant strength and fortitude to the bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss with equanimity, and peace to the departed soul.

Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also offered his condolences on the demise of Senator Usman Kakar and said that he was a strong and powerful voice of the people in Parliament. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that he was shocked to hear the news of the demise. Senator Usman Kakar’s services for the public and his effective role in the House will never be forgotten. Chairman PPP prayed to Almighty Allah for his forgiveness and high ranks.

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British High Commissioner called on Chairman Bilawal

Islamabad, 21 June 2021: British High Commissioner, Dr Christian Turner called on Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at Zardari House Islamabad on Monday.

Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and British High Commissioner Turner discussed bilateral relations between the two countries. Chairman Bilawal and the British High Commissioner, Turner agreed to enhance trade ties between the two countries. Chairman Bilawal during the discussions commented that Pak-UK relations have been ideal in every era.

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The nation will never forget the struggle of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto

Islamabad, 20 June 2021: Former President of Pakistan and President of Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians Asif Ali Zardari on the occasion of the birthday of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto has paid homage to her and renewed the pledge to follow her mission and follow the philosophy of Quaid-e-Awam Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. We will continue to fight for the rule of the constitution and the supremacy of parliament. In his message, President Asif Ali Zardari said that Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s birthday celebrations are being held all over the world today which is proof that the nation has not forgotten its great leader.

Asif Ali Zardari said that the ideology for which Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed sacrificed her life is a beacon for us. “Conspiracies are being hatched today against the 18th Amendment, parliament is being disrespected, media is being restricted, freedom of expression is being curtailed, but we are committed to combat with the antidemocratic forces,” he said. We will compete at every step. Asif Ali Zardari said that today every strata of the country is suffering from deaths, and the youth is disappointed.

The PPP will end these frustrations and disappointments. Asif Ali Zardari said that Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari like his great grandfather Quaid-e-Awam Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto will be with the people at every step and will continue to raise his voice for the rights of the people. He said that today we pledge to build a Pakistan for which Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto struggled for, where there will be peace, freedom, democracy will be strong, rule of constitution will prevail and the parliament will be empowered.

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EVM aimed at rigging elections to install a puppet Parliament to undo 18th Amendment, says PPP

Islamabad June 20, 2021: PPP Secretary General former Senator Farhatullah Babar has said that the EVM is a device to rig the elections through technology, without a human face, so as to put in place a selected parliament to undo the 18th Constitutional amendment and the NFC Award, the twin parliamentary devices that have not been acceptable to the de-facto state which has been conspiring against it from the outset. The Party will resist it at all available forums and if needed will also move the Courts.

He said this while addressing a party event organized by the President PPP Women wing Islamabad Sadaf Murtaza to celebrate Benazir Bhutto’s birthday in the Party’s Media Office in Islamabad Sunday evening.

He said that if PDM parties had resigned from the Assemblies the selected and selectors would have got two third majority in the Parliament by holding bye elections under the constitution even without resort of overt rigging. When that did not happen the de-facto part of the state decided to manipulate the next elections EVM so as to bring in another selected parliament according to their plans.

He said that the ECP also had formally rejected 45 out of 72 proposed changes in the Election Act 2017 which the government first introduced as an ordinance in the ded of the night and later got it bulldozed through the National Assembly. The opposition will not let it pass through the Senate, he said.

He said that in order to make EVM look palatable the government had cleverly tied it with voting of overseas Pakistanis so as to hoodwink the people. He said that overseas Pakistanis should be integrated in the electoral process in a manner that is doable and for which legal and constitutional basis is provided. He said Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto had already elaborated on it.

He said that behind the façade of voting of overseas Pakistanis the government wanted to bull doze EVMs to rig the next elections and change the constitutional edifice of the country.

He said that numerous studies carried out have shown that EVM is highly susceptible to manipulation and electoral fraud.

The computer based system of voting requires computer literacy that is also lacking in Pakistan. Even in some of those countries which initially adopted it in some constituencies have discontinued.

In a country where state agencies switch on and off internet and social media platforms with impunity on the pretext of ‘national security’ and where the electronic result transmission system (RTS) failed mysteriously in the last elections it is impossible to trust EVMs. The nation must know the truth behind RTS failure, he said.

Former CEC late Fakhruddin G Ebrahim also undertook a pilot project but had to abandon it when he concluded that it was not workable.

He said that the locus of power was shifting from political and party workers to non-state militant actors and the unelected defacto arm of the state. “It is shifting from the parliament house in Islamabad to the unelected institution in rawalpindi”, he said and warned that if not checked it will spell disaster for the stability and integrity of the country.

All her life Benazir Bhutto fought for the federation and parliamentary supremacy he said adding ‘let us rededicate ourselves on her birthday to resist the shift of political power from political parties towards militants and their supporters”

Those who spoke on the occasion included MNA Nafisa Shah, Shahida Rehmani, Ibrar Shah, Senator Shahadat Awan, Akhunzada Chattan, Syed Sibtal Bokhari, city women president ppp Sadaf Murtaza and others. Traditional cake cutting ceremony was also held.