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National Judicial Policy Making Committee (NJPMC) holds Meeting

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A meeting of the National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee, (NJPMC), was held under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Chief Justice of Pakistan/Chairman, NJPMC, in Committee Room, Supreme Court of Pakistan, Islamabad.

On special invitation, the meeting was graced by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Mushir Alam, Senior Puisne Judge, Supreme Court of Pakistan, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Judge, Supreme Court of Pakistan, and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Judge, Supreme Court of Pakistan. The meeting was attended by the Hon’ble Members of the NJPMC, including Hon’ble Chief Justice, Federal Shariat Court, Mr. Justice Muhammad Noor Meskanzai, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh, Chief Justice, High Court of Sindh (participated in the meeting through video linking), Mr. Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, Chief Justice, Peshawar High Court, Mr. Justice Athar Minallah, Chief Justice, Islamabad High Court, Mr. Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Chief Justice, High Court of Balochistan and Mr. Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan, Chief Justice, Lahore High Court.

Dr. Muhammad Raheem Awan, Secretary, National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee (NJPMC) convened the meeting. Furthermore, on special invitation, Dr. Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Health and Dr. Khurram Shahzad Akram, Incharge Judges Medical Centre, also attended the meeting.

The Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan/Chairman, NJPMC welcomed the participants and remarked that the prevailing situation on Corona Virus (COVID-19) in the country requires special attention and practical actions. He further remarked that the Supreme Court of Pakistan has already issued instructions regarding preventive measures to minimize the spread of contagion COVID-19. The Hon’ble Chair mentioned that Dr. Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Health, has been specially invited for apprising the Committee regarding various measures taken by the Federal Government to curb the Coronavirus in the Country.

The Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan further remarked that we will not compromise on our judicial system and not let it be derailed by getting panicked as people of Pakistan have great deal of confidence on judicial system so we will never disappoint them. The apex judiciary of the country will ensure and take all the necessary preventive measures for health and safety of our judges, court staff, lawyers, litigants and other justice sector stake holders up to the district and tehsil levels.

Hon’ble Chairman, NJPMC, said that detailed instructions have already been issued to all High Courts to take all possible preventive measures by way of case management to ensure that the Court Rooms are not crowded and physical contact between individuals attending Courts is avoided. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has been and will continue to monitor implementation of such measures. The Secretary, NJPMC, briefed the Committee about the prevailing situation on Corona Virus in the country.

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The Secretary also apprised the Committee about preventive measures taken by the august Supreme Court of Pakistan to curb the virus, which include avoiding hand shake, regular use of fumigation and disinfectant for cleaning of court premises/offices, cafeterias, Bar rooms, libraries, mosques and committee room, etc. After deliberations, the Committee unanimously resolved that instructions/guidelines issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, shall be adopted by the Federal Shariat Court and High Courts upto the District and Tehsil Courts. Besides, the same may also be forwarded to the superior Judiciary of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. The Committee also deliberated upon and directed that the jail inmates (prisoners) shall be protected from being exposed to the risk of coronavirus/infection without denial of their right of family meetings, however, authorities will make sure to adopt precautionary measures and regulate the procedure of meetings. The Committee also deliberated upon likelihood of jail inmates to be exposed to coronavirus coming from outside, therefore, visitors visiting jail premises should be examined and properly screened to avoid any threat of infection of coronavirus to the prisoners, if any of the prisoner found infected he will be quarantined within jail premises without any delay from the premises.

The NJPMC unanimously resolved to adopt all these SoPs issued by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which would be applicable on all the Courts. It is further decided that courts will remain open at all levels by reducing the judicial work load, so that the people working in the courts or visiting shall not be exposed to any risk of getting affected by virus. Therefore, people are urged not to unnecessarily visit court premises unless specifically required by any court. It is further resolved that protocol of health and hygiene would be ensured and adopted.

In this regard like High Courts, District Courts will also reduce the work by hearing urgent matters and discouraging the entry of general public, as well as, assure to conduct screening tests of all persons entering in the Court premises. It is also resolved that no adverse order against any party would be passed in the courts in default i.e. non-prosecution or ex-parte order, etc. The Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Health informed the Committee that the issues like National Health Policy, Coordination, Research and Development, etc., devising guidelines regarding health emergencies and global representations, resides with the Federal Government.

Further informed that in the National Institute of Health, Islamabad, a surveillance unit has been established while there are similar units also operational in the Country and symptoms of Corona Virus are not disease specific. Moreover, the Virus has entered into Country from outside. Whereas, in few days, the Federal Government would import kits which would be made available to the Public Sector Health institution free of cost, moreover, the said free kits will be provided for conducting tests of specified categories of individuals free of cost to the eminent private sector hospitals and diagnostic centers.

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The Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Health further informed that in the 32nd Meeting of the National Security Committee, dated 13th March, 2020, it was decided that the National Disaster Management Authority would be the lead operational agency of the Federal Government and would coordinate its efforts with the provincial and district authorities for implementation of preventive and curative actions.

He further informed that the Federal Government Hospital, Islamabad, near to the National Institute of Health, Chak Shahzad, Islamabad, is being dedicated to combat Corona Virus. Moreover, the private sector is also coming forward to help the government to combat the Corona Virus. It was further resolved that the Crisis Management Committees would be formed by the respective High Courts to liaison with the concerned authorities for devising mechanism for safe guarding general public, litigants, lawyers, etc., from the spread of Corona Virus in the Federal Shariat Court and respective High Court premises, while for the District Judiciary the Hon’ble Chief Justice, High Courts would devise uniform plan/SoPs after consulting with the respective Administrative Committees, District and Sessions Judges and Bars.

Besides, the High Courts shall decide suitable protocol for type of urgent cases to be fixed for hearing, the number of Judges to hold Court, the duration of their sessions held on rotation and the corresponding number of judges and the staff that shall be on leave during such sessions. Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, Judge Supreme Court of Pakistan has been nominated as focal Judge being Chairman of the Supreme Court Health and Safety Committee to ensure the implementation of the directions of the NJPMC. Whereas, the Federal Shariat Court and High Courts would also nominate a Focal Person to maintain the liaison among the Judiciary, Government Departments and relevant authorities.

The Hon’ble Chief Justice of High Courts will take such additional steps including administrative measure in consultation with Provincial health Authorities as may be deemed necessary. In order to ensure uniformity, the Hon’ble Focal Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan shall be kept in loop before such additional steps and measures are implemented. It was unanimously agreed that these all measures are taken for three weeks after that these will be reviewed according to the prevailing situation of the county.

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Conflict

Tribal Clashes and the Bloodshed

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Tribal Clashes in the parts of Baluchistan and Sindh bring miseries and destruction as warring tribes go on Killing Sprees and do not stop until they equal the numbers.

They go on a massive scale and target indiscriminately, the young and old are consumed in the fire of revenge and vengeance.

Tribal clashes create several socioeconomic problems that compel the tribes men to adopt criminal activities for instance armed robbery, mobile snatching, motorbike snatching and stealing in the rural areas where police patrolling is not available.

Sindh, Baluchistan, KP and Punjab are embedded in the Feudal fabric that is controlling the social, cultural and political arena of these provinces.

This is obviously the great game of some sardars and politicians to incite the tribes to fight to settle their dispute. The disputes are triggered from trivial issues like water share, agriculture land disputes, grazing of animals in somebody’s farmlands, marriage, illicit relations and Karo Kari (honour Killings).

These tribal feuds have already consumed thousands of innocent lives since our judicial system fails to provide relief so people are forced to seek justice from the traditional jirga system, run by the tribal chiefs. Regrettably, the Jirga’s decisions are unmerited in most cases,women are given in exchange to settle the disputes,and the verdicts are binding on both parties.

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During the colonial era British conferred various benefits to these feudals due to their allegiance to the British Empire. They were awarded lands and properties along with various titles that still exist in today’s Pakistan.

Titles such as sardar,Mir,Nawab, Khan Bahadur, rais and Muqdum are used even today. The princely states were also classified as Salute and Non-salute states, depending on their favorability with the British.

These states were controlled indirectly by British India. Some examples include Bahawalpur, Khairpur, Makran, and Kalat.

For a long time these entitled elite have been ruling and controlling Sindh, Baluchistan and Punjab, for more than seven decades they have had a stronghold in these areas socially, economically and politically.

There are several sardars who traditionally hold hereditary Turbans (pug) of Tribal chief and control their community along with other communities.

In Baluchistan, the most active Sardari tribes are Bugti, Marri, Mengal, Bizenjo, Jamali, Magsi and Rind, In Sindh Sundrani, Bijarani, Mahar,Chandio, Mazari, Lund, Pitafi, Arbabs, Khoso, Chachar, Teghani, Jatoi, Bhayo and Shar. Syed tribes have been ruling the roost in Sindh for several decades, the most important seat of CM falls in their domain.

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The heads of these tribal chiefs are autocratic princes and have totalitarian control over the people of their tribes;they enjoy the full authority in their respective areas.

These jirgas are not only lucrative businesses for the sardars, but they also aid them in consolidating their influence over their tribe members who then vote them to assemblies and the Parliament

The Sundrani, Bijarani, Mahar and Chandio Tribal chiefs control the greatest number of tribes in Sindh whereas Rind, Marri, Bugti and Mengals control most of the Baloch tribes in Baluchistan.

The extent of their control can be assessed on the following point that no one can have even matrimonial proposal without their consent and their verdict is final in all matters.

Feudal influence persists in these areas only because of the absence of writ of state and of law and order.Therefore, the tribesmen are compelled to opt for the Jirgas to settle disputes.

These jirgas delegate infinite powers to the arbitrator (Tribal Chief) consequently some decisions are astounding and illogical, but the communities cannot challenge them because of fear and oppression.

The Jirga process is very slow,both warring tribes must mutually agree to end the dispute, this may involve several sittings. Sometimes, the tribes resume their clashes soon after a settlement and pursue the killing spree owing to resentment by one tribe.

The women especially the young girls bear the brunt of these tribal clashes as unmarried girls are exchanged for compensation in case of murder settlements.These girls live in misery as the family members treat them as the daughter of the enemy and resort to domestic abuse and violence.Consequently, the innocent girls become the victims of these tribal jirgas.

The school going children also become victims of these tribal clashes amid fear of attack if they go to school, the enemy may target these students. Such incidences have been reported in the past.

In a recent incident between the Teghani and Bijarani tribes, two innocent students of matriculation were killed they were prepared to appear in the exams this March, unfortunate death took care that.

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In another ironic incident a 70-year-old man was shot in the head when he was riding his donkey cart to work so he could feed his minor children and wife. Instead of getting food on the table in the evening the family received his dead body.

One recent incident still resonates in the minds of many when 30 innocent lives were lost in exchange of fire between two tribes owing to a trivial issue of illegal grazing of a cow. This continues to happen due to widespread illiteracy and unrestricted use of sophisticated weapons.

This was the one of the worst examples when dozens of men, women and children got butchered in a single day,in a blatant display of barbarity.

The role of Police is very dismal rather dubious since such incidences also occur in cities,in broad day light. Police usually arrive late giving these trigger happy thugs a license to kill innocent people.

The open display of sophisticated weapons like fully automatic fire arms to rocket launchers makes one question how these communities manage to purchase such expensive arms when their purchase requires official approval and some are not even meant for civilians.

In some instances the police becomes an accomplice taking monetary benefits form the tribe that intends on attacking it’s rival turning a blinds eye.

The Government is clueless or an accomplice like the police in these incidents or deliberately avoids legislation against this butchery of humanity since most of the MPA’s and MNA’s are tribal chiefs themselves. They will never legislate against these crimes as they are well aware that legislation means curtailing their own powers and monetary losses.

It is high time that civil society, legal fraternity, and human rights defenders must come forward to stop this massacre in the name tribal disputes and the Supreme Court of Pakistan must take notice of this cold-blooded murder.

The Government should ban the jirgas completely and all murders under the guise of Honour Killings and Tribal disputes should be treated as a crime against humanity with exemplary punishments. Government should also control issuing of licenses to civilians.

The civil society must create awareness against and promote love and harmony among the communities so that they may settle their differences peacefully and never engage in fighting.Precious human lives need to be preserved especially those of the youth.

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Kashmir

Pakistan Mission Islamabad Celebrates “KASHMIRI SOLIDARITY DAY “

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Pakistan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations today organized a photo exhibition in solidarity with the Kashmiri brothers and sisters, says a press release received here today from New York. The event was held in a virtual and hybrid format in view of COVID-19 restrictions. All the proceedings of the event were broadcasted live on Twitter.

The ceremony began with the recitation of the Holy Qur’an. A message of Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Munir Akram was broadcasted. In his message on the occasion of Solidarity Day, he expressed his unwavering support to the Kashmiri brothers and sisters who have been fighting against the brutal occupation for seven decades. “We salute their unparalleled bravery.” Ambassador Munir Akram said, “The heart of Pakistan is Kashmir. In Pakistan, ‘K’ means towards Kashmir. Pakistan’s dream is incomplete without it.” “The people of Pakistan have always stood firm with their Kashmiri brethren against Indian atrocities and aggression.” The deployment of more than 900,000 Indian troops has made IIOJK one of the most militarized areas in the world, he said.

In his message, Munir Akram said that “Since 05 August 2019, India has turned 8 million Kashmiris into prisoners in their own land through the deployment of over 900,000 occupation troops. History has few precedents of such suffocation and violation of the fundamental rights at this scale. For over 500 days, India has imprisoned all Kashmiri political leaders, illegally detained 13000 Kashmiri youth, tortured many of them, summarily executed young boys, put down protest violently, including the use of pellet guns against peaceful protestors and imposed collective punishment by demolishing homes and burning entire neighbourhood and villages”. “The Permanent Mission of Pakistan remains the voice of the Kashmiris at the UN and other international forums.

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We have urged the international community to play its role in ensuring respect for the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the Kashmiri people and averting grave risks to global peace and security posed by India’s belligerent rhetoric and aggressive action. Through these persistence diplomatic efforts and under the guidance of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Kashmir issue is once again re-internationalized”: said the Ambassador. “Kashmir issue is once again re-internationalized. It’s under active consideration of the UN Security Council.

UN Secretary General, the President of the General Assembly, High Commissioner for Human Rights and other high-ranking UN human rights experts and Special Rapporteurs have on numerous occasions expressed grave concerns over India’s massive atrocities and crimes in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. During its recent meeting in Niger, the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers have reaffirmed its unwavering support to the legitimate Kashmiri struggle”: Ambassador Munir Akram said. “The day is not far when the people of Kashmir will be able to free themselves from the yoke of Indian occupation. Unity of purpose and a single-minded determination of the Kashmiris remains the biggest strength of the Kashmiri struggle” he concluded with the note of hope.

Later a documentary on the struggle of Kashmiris was shown at the event. A digital album titled: Kashmir: between resistance and resilience, a collection of photographs featured in international media. The album features photographs and impressions taken by Kashmiri and international reporters and photojournalists based on the struggles of Kashmiris, their plight and their current situation.

Deputy Permanent Representative Mr. Amir Khan expressed his views in his closing remarks. Expressing solidarity with the Kashmiris in his address, Aamir Khan said, “Today is a day to recognize the legitimacy of the Kashmiri freedom struggle in the face of Indian brutality, occupation and state-sponsored terrorism in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir; to express our unstinting solidarity with our Kashmiri brothers and sisters; to underscore India’s consistent and blatant disregard of the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination and its obligations under international law”.

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“As members of the Pakistan Mission to the UN, we are at the forefront of the Kashmiri struggle for freedom. The legal and moral case of our brethren pivots around our representation. In line with the directions of our leadership, wishes of the Pakistani people and the aspirations of millions of Kashmiris, we must continue to leave no stone unturned in our efforts to highlight all aspects of the Kashmir dispute. This is not only our national duty but also a prerequisite of our Imaan”: he said. “We reiterate our collective resolve and commitment to extend full moral, political and diplomatic support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir” he concluded. At the end of the ceremony, a special prayer was offered for the liberation of Kashmiris.

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