Rights Watch | 06 August 2020

Rights Watch

Civil rights in KP under threat

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Actions (In Aid of Civil Power) Ordinance, granting the military far-reaching authority to arrest anyone from anywhere within the province and detain them for indefinite periods of time, was passed approximately one year ago on August 5, 2019.

These arrests are not subject to approval from the government, and suspects can be detained in ‘internment centers’. While such an ordinance has been deployed previously, specifically to aid counter-terrorism operations in erstwhile-FATA, the fact that it has been spread across the entire province by a government that simultaneously claims that terrorism is no longer a threat to the province is worrying and poses a serious danger to the civil rights and freedoms of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa citizens.

Moreover, the existence of such an ordinance in Pakistan is even more questionable given Pakistan’s continued support for Kashmir in its occupation by India, which uses the Public Safety Act to arrest Kashmiri citizens indiscriminately, citing arbitrary threats to ‘public safety’.

 Matiullah Jan’s case proceeds in SC

Islamabad police submit their report to the Supreme Court regarding the kidnapping of senior journalist Matiullah Jan, as the court takes up evidence related to a contempt of court charge against him. The report explains that the delay in proceeding the case is due to still-pending responses from various functioning departments involved in aiding the police in investigating the Matiullah Jan’s 12-hour long abduction July 21.

The journalist was picked up in Islamabad the day before he was due to appear in the Supreme Court for the hearing of his contempt case, only being released after a massive furor. Matiullah Jan’s case is only the latest in years’ worth of abductions and kidnappings of journalists in Pakistan; many accuse the military and intelligence services of being behind these disappearances.