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Peaceful protest is right of every citizen: Shireen Mazari

11 December, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari Monday said peaceful protest is the right of every citizen in a democratic set-up and no one including Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) and any minority community would be stopped from holding a peaceful protest for their genuine rights.

She was responding to PTM MNA Mohsin Dawar, who regretted that party chief ManzoorPashteen was not allowed at Quetta airport with an excuse that he was banned for three months in the province, and was sent back to Karachi. Dawar claimed there were no human rights in Pakistan because even the elected parliamentarians were not allowed to hold protest rallies for their genuine demands.

Mazari thanked PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for allowing PTM to hold a protest rally despite a ban by the Sindh government. She claimed that genuine demands of every protestor should be accepted. All issues should be resolved through dialogue, she said, and assured that privilege of every elected member should be respected.

Mazari said the government is committed to resolve the issue of missing persons. Responding to a point of order, she said no democratic society permits abduction of citizens in the darkness of night. She said all the fair demands of Baloch and Pashtoon people, minorities and other oppressed segments should be accepted and stressed the need to adopt an inclusive approach in this regard.

Responding to a question during the question hour, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Andleeb Abbas told the House that Pakistan had been continuously raising the issue of Pakistani prisoners detained in Afghanistan. She said it was regrettable that Afghan government had not provided information about the number of Pakistani nationals imprisoned there. She said the government was also working on an MoU for transfer of offenders. She said Pakistan embassy and consulates in Afghanistan, through other sources like International Committee of Red Cross and released prisoners, get information about Pakistani detainees and extend all possible assistance to them.

Andleeb claimed that the Afghan government was not allowing consular access to the prisoners. She said the Pakistani embassy was not also being informed about the charges against the prisoners. Pakistan was providing complete cooperation to the Afghan embassy in Islamabad, she said, and regretted that Pakistani embassy in Kabul was not getting any such cooperation. She said most of Pakistani prisoners in Afghanistan were facing terrorism charges, adding that the government has also taken up the issue with top Afghan officials.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan informed the House that a total of 2,041 families comprising over 10,000 temporarily displaced persons were still residing at Baka Khel Camp situated in Frontier Region Bannu. He said currently the camp is being used as a transit hub of TDPs who fled to Afghanistan and it would be de-commissioned as soon as areas of their return are declared safe and repatriation of these families commences. He said the TDPs would continue to get assistance under the TDPs status till they are repatriated and settled at their places.

Minister of State for Communication Murad Saeed said that the government was taking several steps for well-being of Pakistani workers in the Gulf countries. Responding to a question, he said numbers of community welfare attaches were being increased to safeguard the interests of Pakistani workers. He said Pakistani Missions abroad were providing legal assistance to resolve issues of Pakistani diaspora. He said it was also being ensured that benefits under work agreements of Pakistani citizens could be protected.

Responding to another question, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Andleeb Abbas said that 15 agreements and MoUs relating to various sectors were signed between Islamabad and Beijing during the recent visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China. She said the focus of MoUs was on enhancing cooperation in socio-economic development, agricultural cooperation, poverty reduction, strengthening trade and economic relations and expanding, ties in science and technology, climate change and security fields.

The House unanimously passed a resolution expressing its commitment to undeniable rights of every individual and urged upon the government to ensure the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution of Pakistan. The resolution, moved by Minister of Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, called for freedom of speech, including the freedom of press. The resolution stated that the State must ensure implementation of all obligations related to social and economic wellbeing of the people. It said all political parties resolve to work together for prosperity, interfaith harmony, minorities’ rights, women empowerment, sustainable development and peace.

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