Pakistan News

Furore over PTI leader’s appointment to key post by HR ministry

KARACHI: Appointment of a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader from Sindh — who was nominated in a case for allegedly meting out inhumane punishment to his employee in Ghotki less than three months ago — as focal person in the province by the federal human rights ministry has triggered a storm, but mainly over social media as it has failed to move the authorities to review their decision, according to sources.

However, a committee of the upper house of parliament would look into the matter in detail later this month, added the sources on Friday.

Mir Iftikhar Loond, a PTI member who was once a vice president of its Sindh chapter, was appointed as focal person for the province by the federal human rights ministry on Wednesday, less than three months after he was booked by the Khanpur Mahar police in Ghotki for getting a man beaten up.

After the appointment, Mr Loond took no time in sharing his “achievement” of landing the coveted position over social media, without realising that doing so could attract a strong reaction from human rights activists and members of civil society groups and opposition parties.

However, the strong reaction over the social and mainstream media failed to convince the federal minister concerned, Dr Shireen Mazari, and her ministry, which remained unmoved over the controversy.

In April a van driver in Ghotki called Allah Rakhio was allegedly assaulted and punished on the orders of Mr Loond and three other people. The victim was taken to the Mirpur Mathelo hospital in Ghotki district by his son Zahid Hussain after the incident.

According to Mr Hussain, the driver had had a disagreement with Shafiq Loond, after which he was called to Mr Loond’s residence where he was mercilessly beaten up by Shafiq, Rafiq and Mumtaz Ali Loond in the presence of the PTI leader.

An FIR was filed at the Khanpur Mahar police station against Iftikhar, Mumtaz, Shafiq and Rafiq on the victim’s complaint. The case was lodged under Sections 324 (attempt to commit qatl-i-amd), 355 (assault or criminal force with intent to dishonour a person), 147 (punishment for rioting) and 143 (punishment for being member of unlawful assembly) of the Pakistan Penal Code. However, according to Mr Hussain, police have not made any arrests yet.

Connecting Mr Loond’s appointment as focal person of the human rights ministry in Sindh with the April incident, the Senate’s standing committee concerned has called a meeting on July 24 and summoned Ghotki’s district police officer with all relevant details and progress report on the case against the PTI leader.

“There are a few questions that need to be answered in appointment of a person who is wanted in a case of sheer inhuman behaviour and defying all norms of humanity,” Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, who is chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights, told Dawn.

“There are three key questions which we would be taking up in our meeting on July 24. What are the rules which allow appointment on such positions? Do they [human rights ministry] check the background of people while appointing them on such key and sensitive positions, and what’s the status of the focal persons’ offices in other provinces?”

Mr Khokhar — also the spokesman for Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who himself heads the National Assembly’s Functional Committee on Human Rights — added: “We have also called the Ghotki DPO to attend the meeting and come up with all relevant details including progress in investigations into the April 2019 case.

“It’s quite strange that a man who is wanted for crime against human rights is tasked with the job to protect rights in one of the provinces. We can’t stay silent on this.”

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2019

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