Rights Watch | 9th February 2021

Warah elders in Bajaur roll back their decision to bar women from visiting World Bank centers to collect monthly cash grants after government intervention. The Supreme Court orders KP government to begin restoration of a vandalised Hindu temple in Karak. he Journalists Defence Committee of the Pakistan Bar Council (JDCPBC) sets up cell to provide free legal aid to journalists.

Rights Watch

Jirga recalls restrictive rules for women

Elders of the Warah area in Mahmond tehsil of Bajaur district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, rolled back their decision to bar women from visiting centers to collect monthly cash grants.

On February 5, a jirga held in the Sawāi area contended that women personally visiting counters operated under the Sada-i-Amn programme of the World Bank was against local customs. They had previously requested the programme management to either give the cash grants to men instead or to station female staff, but these demands were not met.

The elders therefore banned local women from collecting the stipend, and imposed a fine of Rs. 10,000 on tribesmen who allowed their women to visit the programme centers. The tribunal had also ruled to ban women from calling local FM radio stations after audio of a radio jockey conversing with a female caller was leaked.

On Monday, February 9, the elders rescinded these restrictions following an intervention by district authorities. Officials urged the jirga leaders to withdraw their decisions as they were unconstitutional, and that the tribunal had no authority to impose such restrictions after the merger of erstwhile-FATA with the province. They further stated that the jirga was free to approach the courts for their grievances, and were assured of staffing women at the programme centers.

Apex court orders immediate restoration of Karak temple

On Monday, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to begin restoration of a Hindu temple in Karak, which had been razed by a Muslim mob on December 30. The three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed also ordered the provincial government to submit a timeline for the completion of all repairs to the temple.

While hearing the suo motu case, the counsel for the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) informed the bench that Rs. 30.41 million have been allocated by the government for reconstruction purposes. The bench observed that funds should be recovered by those who attacked the temple, and sought to summon the ETPB chairman to submit a detailed progress report.

Cell to provide legal aid to journalists established

The Journalists Defence Committee of the Pakistan Bar Council (JDCPBC) has set up a cell to provide free legal aid to journalists facing threats, attacks and judicial reprimand. The cell will operate under the Institute of Research, Advocacy and Development (IRADA). A three-member committee comprising of nominees from the Pakistan Bar Council, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and IRADA will scrutinise requests and determine the scope of legal support.