NEW YORK: A prominent international watchdog body has called for the prosecution of new Afghan Defence Minister Assadullah Khalid, saying there is “credible evidence” linking him to serious human rights abuses.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Khalid’s appointment by President Ashraf Ghani last month “should have rung alarm bells not only in Kabul but in the capitals of Afghanistan’s major donors.” “That it didn’t say a lot about how little human rights matter to an increasingly shaky government, and to donors looking for an exit from the long Afghan war,” it added. The defense minister, who previously had governed volatile Kandahar and Ghazni provinces and served as the Afghan spy chief, is also accused of ordering the killing of five United Nations workers in a roadside bombing in April 2007 in Kandahar.
“Credible evidence of serious human rights abuses and war crimes linked to Khalid have followed him throughout his government career,” HRW said. “Reports first came to light during Khalid’s tenure as governor of Kandahar – a time when thousands of Canadian troops were based in the province.” “There is also strong evidence directly implicating Khalid in acts of sexual violence against women and girls when he was governor of Ghazni and Kandahar,” HRW said. “Khalid allegedly threatened his victims, saying ‘they would be killed and their families destroyed if they told anyone what had happened’.” The HRW report denounced Khalid’s appointment as an “opportunistic and callous move” by President Ghani to score to “short-term gains” in the upcoming Afghan presidential elections. President Ghani’s government has proved unwilling to criminally investigate Khalid but the United States and Canada have the authority under their respective laws to impose financial and travel sanctions on him, HRW insisted.
“The European Union and other donors should impose similar sanctions to send a clear message that returning a known human rights abuser to a position of authority is simply unacceptable.” The allegations against Khalid initially stemmed from his stint as the governor of Kandahar a decade ago – a time when thousands of Canadian troops were based in the province as part of the U.S.-led military coalition. “An official internal Canadian document described the allegations of human rights abuses attributable to Khalid as numerous and consistent,” the statement said. Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin had testified before a Canadian parliamentary commission in 2009 that Khalid perpetrated enforced disappearances and held people in private prisons. “The testimony included evidence of Khalid’s personal involvement in the torture of detainees. Chris Alexander, a senior Canadian official working with the United Nations in Afghanistan at the time, alleged that Khalid ordered the killing of five UN workers in a roadside bombing in Kandahar in April 2007.”
Govt to focus on militancy hit areas in KP
PESHAWAR: Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan has said his government was going all-out to focus on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of militancy and terrorism hit areas throughout the province.
We would install a complete structure of public sector institutions, governance and delivery. He directed for the provision of resources to timely complete the Fast Track projects for the benefit of people. We have already evolved a just and uniform developmental strategy to give relief to the poor segment of the society and mitigate their sufferings, he added.
He was presiding over a high-level meeting at Chief Minister Secretariat Peshawar on Sunday, said a handout.
He also met a delegation and also interacted with provincial Ministers. The meeting was also attended by Provincial Ministers Ishtiaq Urmar, Taimur Saleem Jhagra, Shaukat Yousafzai, Akbar Ayub Khan, Dr. Amjad Ali, advisor to cm and spokesmen Ajmal Khan Wazir The meeting reviewed the overall resource allocation with a focus on completing the fast track projects both ongoing and new.
The meeting informed about the logical way out for the re appropriation focusing more on the completion of fast track projects and more beneficial projects for the benefit of the people.
Normally the process of re appropriation is carried out in the third quarter of the fiscal year in order to give maximum time to the departments to complete their projects within the fiscal year averting the throw forward burden ,the briefing added.
The meeting was further informed that this time the holy month of Ramadan will fall in May – June, therefore, it necessitated more to carry out the re appropriation process within the third quarter.
The meeting also briefed the participants about the overall role of P&D in evaluating and keeping a watchful eye on the status the schemes.
Addressing at these occasions the Chief Minister said his government was focusing on the infrastructure development both big and small through a three dimensional approach that included short, mid and long term strategy.
This is necessary because certain areas were totally affected by militancy and subsequent operations and some areas were partially affected. He said that his government would ensure that the interest of the helpless people was secured adding that the criticism and propaganda of the opponents have no ground.
They have either political interest or they are tools for others promoting anti people agenda he added.
Mahmood Khan wants against anti people politics adding that it is totally unfortunate that the misrules of the corrupt politicians cracked the very fabric of society causing enormous loss to the people.
The Chief Minister said that the base of politics of the opponents have no relevance to the ground reality . The opponents have distorted worldview because they have their own political interest, he added.
He said his government would not allow emotional economic and political exploitation of the people. We have multiple challenges and we have a matching commitment to overcome them. We are going with a focus approach for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of militancy and terrorism hit areas and giving relief to the affectees, he added. We would follow our manifesto to work harder for the poor.
Mahmood Khan said that mega projects were launched for the benefit of the whole of the province and the whole of the province would be the end beneficiary of these mega projects.
Chief Minister said that he will turn a deaf ear to the anti people propaganda of the anti people politicians and their stooges because we cannot deviate from the public welfare, he added.
He said that the Caravan of justice, merit reconstruction and development would continue moving forward with speed adding that the past rulers had self centric politics but PTI promoted the culture of politics for the powerless people.
Pakistan warns against Islamophobia
UNITED NATIONS: The deadly terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand was “another grim reminder” of the Islamophobia sweeping the world, a senior Pakistani diplomat told delegates attending the UN Commission on the Status of Women – a global gathering of women activists at which Pakistan played an active role.
Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, was speaking at a side-event on “Breaking Stereotypes: Muslim Women as agents of change”, one of the four organized by her that made an impact on what is also called the “women activists’ summit.”
The Pakistani envoy linked the attack to stereotyping, which she argued can be seriously consequential as it can lead to misperceptions, demonization and even violence.
“It’s a slippery slope when Muslims are stereotyped and mischaracterized, sometimes deliberately by those who also engage in hate speech,” Ambassador Lodhi said.
She distinguished between culture and religion in asserting that for Muslim women Islam is an enabling agent, not an impediment as is often presumed in Western narratives. The barriers are patriarchal social structures and an overall lack of education in societies.
The annual meeting of the Commission, which dates back to 1947, brought to the UN more than 9,000 representatives from civil society organizations. It will conclude on March 22.
Pakistan’s single person delegation was led by Khawar Mumtaz, who delivered her national statement on Friday.
The event on ‘Breaking Stereotypes’, a brainchild of Ambassador Lodhi, attracted a large audience with people prepared to stand throughout the hour and half event.
About her own professional journey as a Muslim woman, she said this involved facing obstacles, overcoming fears but always dreaming dreams. “My professional path”, Ambassador Lodhi said, “constantly entailed challenging, defying and overcoming stereotypes.”
“This almost becomes a lifetime occupational hazard for women, and not just in the Muslim world. “The important thing is never to allow this to distract or diminish us.
Women, she said, have two choices when confronted with attitudes shaped by stereotypes or when facing barriers: either seethe with resentment or press ahead vigorously to make a difference. Anger, she said, is not a strategy.
Other speakers from Indonesia, Turkey Qatar and Iran echoed the view that for Muslim women, faith was no barrier; indeed throughout Islamic history, women have played prominent public roles. A correct reading of religion showed that Islam was an enabling factor for women to pursue professional roles
A lively question-answer segment followed presentations by the panel of speakers. The session was ably moderated by Pakistani American Professor Ameena Zia.
Participating in the side-events were Parliamentarians who were here to attend the meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) hearings. They included Munazza Hassan, MNA, Ehsanullah Tiwana, Sassui Palijo and Shahla Raza.
Pakistan’s presence during CSW’s first week was also visible in the standees that were displayed across UN HQ depicting women who had made and changed history in Pakistan. The colorful standees included Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, Benazir Bhutto, Asma Jahangir, Sharmeen Obaid, and Malala Yusufzai among others.
China’s National People’s Congress concludes annual session
BEIJING: The 13th National People’s Congress, China top legislature concluded its meeting of the second annual session at the Great Hall of the People here on Friday morning.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and other leaders attended the closing meeting. The legislators adopted China’s first unified foreign investment law during the meeting. They adopted the draft resolutions on the government work report, and the work reports of the 13th NPC StandingCommittee, the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.
In addition, lawmakers also passed the draft resolutions on the reports of the national economic and social development plan as well as the central and local budgets. Thousands of national lawmakers and political advisers gathered in the capital for the 10-day annual “Two Sessions,” a key event on China’s political calendar.