UNITED NATIONS: UN Human Rights Committee has urged Saudi Arabia to put an end to the air strikes against Yemen, amid reports that they have resulted in the deaths of at least 1,248 children since March 2015.
The recommendation was addressed to Saudi Arabia on Thursday by the Geneva-based UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which also issued concluding observations on Benin, El Salvador, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mauritania, and Niger, according to an official press release.
Each country is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has two Optional Protocols: involvement of children in armed conflict and the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
Every four years, the Member States are expected to provide an update to the UN on their activities and progress relating to these international accords.
In a statement, the 18-member UN panel noted that Saudi Arabia was involved in the Yemen conflict as the leader of an internationally-backed coalition to restore legitimacy there.
The country has been split by a devastating war involving the internationally recognized government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, in the south and Houthi opposition fighters, who control the capital, Sana’a to the north and other key locations.
Saudi representatives said that the coalition had been accidentally responsible for casualties among children, the Committee said in its report, before expressing serious concern that youngsters continue to be the primary victims of that ongoing conflict and represented 20 percent of all civilian casualties caused by air strikes.
Of three aerial attacks in August highlighted in the UN report – on August 9, 22, and 23 – it was the initial strike which prompted particular international condemnation, after at least 21 boys died when a bus they were traveling in was hit in Dahyan market in Saada governorate, in the north of the country.
All parties in the conflict had been responsible for attacks on civilians, the UN panel said, underscoring how targets included homes, medical facilities, schools, farms, wedding functions, markets, vehicles in crowded areas.
Cluster munitions had been used in some of these attacks, the Committee said, before highlighting how the on-going aerial and naval blockade on Yemen had dramatic consequences for many millions of people, including a high proportion of children.
Among its other concerns, the UN panel noted the inefficiency of the coalition’s investigative mechanism into attacks on children and facilities and spaces frequented by children and underscored the lack of independence of its members.
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.
Opposition disrupting NA business: Fawad
JHELUM: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain Friday said the opposition parties were employing undemocratic tactics to disrupt the business of National Assembly (NA).
Talking to media persons here, the minister said due to the opposition’s negative attitude, the parliament’s image was being tarnished. Instead of discussing national issues like the water crisis and economy, the opposition legislators were using the forum to defend themselves in the corruption cases being pursued by the National Accountability Bureau.
He said that the government had shown large-heartedness by agreeing to the appointment of Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee to ensure the smooth running of the House. However, instead of reciprocating the government’s gesture, the opposition even today made an issue of the production order of Saad Rafique and staged a walkout from the NA.
He said when the prime minister made his first speech in the National Assembly, the opposition had boycotted the proceedings on the plea of non-formation of a committee on alleged election rigging, when that body was formed they walked out of the House on the issue of NAB laws, and when the government agreed on the formation of committee on that matter, they made an issue of the PAC’s chairmanship. Now the government had agreed to the nomination of Shehbaz Sharif as PAC chairman, they had now coined the issue of Saad Rafique’s arrest to stage the walkout, he added.
He said both Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari were worried about the national wealth they had plundered during their governments and were trying to pressurize the government for an agreement like that of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) for withdrawal of cases against them. He said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government would fulfill all the promises, which the party had made in its manifesto, including bringing about a revolution in agriculture and economic sectors and provide relief to the masses.
Fawad said when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government came to power in 2013, there was a crisis of natural gas in the country, but when it left this year gas companies were suffering heavy losses. The Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan Steel Mills, Sui Southern Gas Company and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited, Radio Pakistan and Pakistan Television were facing huge financial loss every year, he said, adding the PTI government was literally rebuilding the institutions brick by brick.
To a question, the minister said the accountability process was across the board and victimization of not anybody was being done as claimed by the opposition. The PTI government had made no appointments in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). NAB was logically holding accountability of those, who ruled the country during the past ten years. Since the PTI never remained in power, so there was no question of their accountability, he added.
He said during the operation against encroachments on state land, only commercial structures were removed, while no residential houses were razed on humanitarian ground. About Jhelum, he said so far 2,500 Kanal state land had been retrieved from the grabbers.
S. Arabia welcomes agreement between Yemenis
WASHINGTON: Saudi Arabia has welcomed the agreement announced in Sweden between the Yemeni parties, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said today.
This came in a statement made by Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi Ambassador to the United States of America, who lauded the efforts of the UN envoy to reach this agreement.
The Saudi envoy also termed the Agreement as an important step towards restoring the sovereignty and independence of Yemen, SPA said.
A relevant piece published earlier: