BEIRUT: Syria’s civil registries recorded 68,000 deaths in the war-torn country in 2017, pro-regime daily Al-Watan reported its head as saying Thursday.
“Last year, we confirmed 68,000 without specifying the nature of their death and 32,000 this year,” civil registries chief Ahmad Rahal said.
He did not provide any additional details about those who had died, including in what part of Syria they had lost their lives or whether they had been victims of the ongoing conflict.
Thursday’s news come after activists accused authorities of quietly updating civil records to mark detainees in regime jails as “deceased” — some backdated by several years.
Human rights defenders say tens of thousands of Syrians are held in government jails across the country.
Relatives and advocates say they are often tortured, denied a fair trial, and deprived of contact with their families. But Rahal said employees at the civil record did not have a “missing” box to tick.
“If a document comes through from any government body — whether a hospital or another — to confirm a death, it is confirmed without specifying if they were missing or not.”
The Syrian Network for Human Rights has documented around 400 cases in recent months, including those of nine children, where civil registry employees have told family members that their detained relative has died.
There could be further such instances which are yet to be documented. Around 80,000 remain forcibly disappeared by the government, the rights group says.
More than 350,000 people have been killed since Syria’s civil war started in 2011, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor says.
More than 33,000 were killed last year alone, including more than 10,000 civilians and 7,000 pro-regime fighters, it says.
During the first seven months of this year, at least 14,000 people lost their lives among them more than 5,000 civilians and 7,000 soldiers and loyalists.
Sh Rashid fears financial indiscipline under Shehbaz as PAC Chairman
LAHORE: Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad here on Saturday expressed apprehension that the appointment of Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif as Chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) would lead the country to financial indiscipline and economic chaos.
Addressing a press conference at Pakistan Railways (PR) headquarters, he said that Prime Minister Imran Khan was a broad-minded person who had agreed that the Opposition may make Shehbaz as Chairman PAC. Casting doubt on the credibility of Shehbaz Sharif, he said, “No leader in the PML-N was dishonest if its president Shehbaz Sharif is honest”. Regarding the issue of production order of PML-N MNA Saad Rafique, he said that his (Rashid) production orders had not been produced for three years when he was in jail in a fake case of possessing a gun.
To a question, he said that Saad was the son of a great man and he (Rashid) respected his father, but, adding that Saad was crying for money which he had looted. The Minister said the country would be purged of all plunderers and looters by March 2019. He criticized the media for presenting thieves and looters like heroes and urged the media to show their real faces. He said the railways during the last regime, just made procurement and no improvement had been brought in it. He said the government was bound to pay Rs 6 billion daily in the form of debts. To a question, he said that he never used derogatory language against the daughter or wife of Nawaz Sharif. The Minister said that with the passage of time, positive impacts of the governments would be before the people.
Joint strategy to eradicate terrorism!
KABUL: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has stressed for a joint strategy to eradicate the menace of terrorism from the region.
Pakistani Foreign Minister was addressing a joint Presser along with his Chinese and Afghan counterparts after trilateral dialogue here today. Shah Mehmood Qureishi held that only through collective efforts we can wipe out terrorism and achieve the objectives of peace and development. Maintaining that we all want peace and stability in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister said Pakistan would benefit the most from the peace and stability of the neighboring country.
He said Pakistan will extend cooperation to bring all the Afghan groups to the table of negotiations. He, however, said it is up to the Afghans themselves as to how they want to achieve the goal of peace. Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. He said he is visiting Kabul to bridge the trust deficit.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi addressing the Media personnel held that both Afghanistan and Pakistan were friends of China and his country would extend every possible cooperation to build trust and confidence between the two countries. He said his country will also assist in establishing connectivity projects including a rail line between Peshawar-Kabul and Kandahar. The Chinese foreign minister said the Afghan reconciliation process can be taken forward by bringing the Taliban to the table of negotiations.
Salahuddin Rabbani, the Afghan Foreign Minister, said Pakistan has an important role for peace in Afghanistan. He said peace in his country is vital for peace and security of the entire region. He said eradication of terrorism will pave the way for economic development and augmentation of employment opportunities.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi held a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul today and discussed improvement in bilateral relations and important issues of mutual and regional interest. Foreign Minister on the occasion said trilateral dialogue forum will help promote connectivity as well as regional peace and stability. He expressed the hope that a stable Afghanistan will lead to the well-being of the whole region. Foreign Minister Qureshi congratulated Afghan President on making best arrangements for holding of trilateral dialogue. President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani thanked Shah Mehmood Qureshi for participating in the trilateral dialogue and his assurance of cooperation.
NA committees to be formed soon: Qaiser
ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser on Friday said standing committees would be formed soon as he had already held meetings with both government and opposition members of the House in that regard.
He said it was not the first time that the formation of standing committees had been delayed. However, the committees were essential for legislation and parliamentary parties were finalizing their members for them, he said talking to a private news channel.
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken budged from his principled stand and okayed appointment of opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif as Public Accounts Committee chairman for smooth running of the parliament.
The speaker said all the members of the National Assembly were competent, who had tabled bills on many issues in the House. With the committees in place, the House would move forward to do the legislative work, he added.
Asad Qaiser said after formation of standing committees, a special assembly session would be held. The parliament was the best forum for elected representatives to raise issues being faced by the people and get them resolved, he added.
He said he would run the House according to the law. There would be no discrimination against any member. “I respect all the assembly members, whether they belong to the treasury or opposition benches.”
The speaker said all the political parties should contribute towards making Pakistan a developed state. The country was facing many problems, including the economic crisis, and the joint efforts were needed to cope with them.