Friday Aug 07, 2020
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday slammed the government by alleging that it loved to quote the Human Rights Watch (HRW) on the Kashmir issue but not on Pakistan's internal human rights abuses.
The PPP leader’s statement came in light of the recent report of the Human Rights Watch on human rights abuses allegedly being carried out by the National Accountability Bureau.
“Human rights watch calls out NAB political victimisation of political parties & media. Mentions Saad Rafique, Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman, myself & my father. We love to quote @hrw on Kashmir but ignore them on Pakistan,” he wrote on Twitter.
Earlier, the HRW had urged the Pakistani authorities to stop using NAB —referring to it as "a dictatorship-era body, possessing draconian and arbitrary powers" — to harass and intimidate opponents.
In a statement, the rights organisation said that the government should follow up on the 87-page detailed verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan on the Khawaja brothers case to rein in the anti-graft body.
"The court granted the men bail and criticised the NAB for showing 'utter disregard to the law, fair play, equity and propriety,' ruling that the 'case was a classic example of trampling of fundamental rights [and] unlawful deprivation of freedom'," read a statement from the HRW.
Pakistan’s parliament should carry out urgent reforms to make the anti-corruption body independent, the Human Rights Watch said.
"In its decision, the Supreme Court also expressed concern about the use of the NAB as an instrument to target government opponents," read the statement by the HRW. "The court cited a February report by the European Commission that criticized the NAB for bias, noting that 'very few cases of the ruling party ministers and politicians have been pursued since the 2018 elections, which is considered to be a reflection of NAB's partiality,'" it added.
The HRW mentioned the illegal arrest and detention of veteran journalist Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman by NAB, who is in the anti-graft body's custody since March.
"The National Accountability Bureau arrested Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman, editor-in-chief of the Jang group, the largest media group in Pakistan, in Lahore on March 12 on charges relating to a 34-year-old property transaction. He has remained in the agency’s custody ever since," said the human rights organisation.
The international NGO spoke of former president Asif Ali Zardari, who had to appear in person after the anti-graft body denied his request to record a statement through a video link because of his ill-health and the prevalent COVID-19 situation in the country.
"Zardari previously spent 11 years in prison – more than half in NAB custody – without a conviction," it said.