Personnel grooming

 

Photo courtesy: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police

Ghulam Dastageer puts the spotlight on the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police department to examine whether policing in the province has improved as much as the province’s ruling party – Pakistan Tehreen-e-Insaf (PTI)– claims it has.

Excerpt:

On a recent work day in October 2014, policing is far from perfect at Gulbahar police station. Raza Ali Shah, sitting in the lock-up there, complains that he has been behind bars for four hours but the police did not lodge a case against him. Dr Tanveer Mustafa, a mid-ranking official in charge of the police station, tells the Herald that the police can keep him in custody as long as a case is registered against him within 24 hours of his arrest.
Muhammad Isa Khan, a prominent Peshawar-based lawyer, disagrees. The police cannot legally put an accused in lock-up for a single moment without registering an FIR, he says. “Delaying the registration of an FIR clearly shows the mala fide intentions of the police, who may want to use this delay to cut a deal with the accused,” Khan says.

Published in the Herald’s November 2014 issue. To read the full story, subscribe to the Herald.

Photo courtesy — Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police

No place to call home

A view of Kotki village, many residents of which are still in IDP camps in Nowshera. — File Photo

A view of Kotki village, many residents of which are still in IDP camps in Nowshera. — By Ghulam Dastageer 

“He who is pushed to the wall, is left with no option but to fight back,” is how 35-old Muhammad Hussain describes his desperation over his inability to make it back home in Bajaur Agency. Living in Jalozai camp for the internally displaced people, he does not know if he has any peaceful means available to him to ensure his return to his Kotki village, separated from Afghanistan’s Kunar province by a mountain.

Hussain was among the thousands of people displaced from Nawagai tehsil of Bajaur Agency after a September 2008 military operation against the Taliban militants there. By 2009, almost all of them had shifted to two refugee camps — Jalozai and Benazir, both in Nowshera district. In April 2012, the government declared that the military operation in Bajaur had come to end as the tribal agency had been cleared of militants. This led to the repatriation of the displaced people to their native lands.

In the next few months everyone was gone except 100 families in Jalozai camp and another 50 in Benazir camp — all originally from Kotki. They too went back but had to eventually return to the camps because, they allege, the landlord of their village, Muhammad Nawaz Khan, connived with the administration to deprive them of the money required to resettle. “When we heard that the government has started a survey to assess the damage caused to our houses due to the military operation, we went to our village,” says Haji Manasab, now living in Jalozai camp. “But the landlord told the political administration that we did not qualify for the compensation for damaged houses because we did not own the land they were built on,” Mansab adds.

01-A-view-of-IDPs-camp-in-Jalozai

A view of IDPs camp in Jalzoi.

The government had announced to pay 400,000 rupees for every fully damaged house and 160,000 rupees for every partially damaged one. Mansab acknowledges that the land did belong to Nawaz Khan but “we had built those houses on our own”. If they were destroyed or damaged during the operation, it was not Nawaz Khan’s loss, he adds. “We are ready to leave the village and settle somewhere else but we should not be deprived of our right to receive compensation,” he says.

Muhammad Qayyum, another displaced person living in Benazir camp, argues that the government is paying compensation for damaged houses and not for damaged land. “If the compensation is to be distributed on the principle of damaged land, then we have no claim over it, but if it is to be based on the damaged houses, then it is our right because we have been residing in those houses for generations,” he says. “Our elders had built those houses without taking a single penny from Nawaz Khan,” he adds.

Ghulam Hazrat, another displaced Kokti resident, says Nawaz Khan had not provided them land free of cost for building houses. “In return, I used to work as his guard and would take up arms against his opponents,” Hazrat says. Male members of all the families stranded in the two camps used to render similar services to Nawaz Khan — who admits as much. “Those who serve us get a piece of cultivable land to earn their livelihood,” he tells the Herald in Kokti.

Mansab says that he invested 300,000 rupees in the 40-kanal piece of land he obtained from Nawaz Khan, in order to have it levelled and made fit for cultivation. He is not going to get any of that back. To add insult to injury, Nawaz Khan managed to get all the compensation that was due to the 150 displaced families, alleges Mansab. He was able to do so by telling official surveyors that his other tenants were now living in the damaged houses, says Mansab.

Now, say members of the displaced families, Nawaz Khan is not allowing any of them to return to the village. He is not even letting us bury our dead in Kotki, says Lal Badshah, another displaced person.

What they are being forced to leave is a veritable piece of paradise. Located in the foot of a mountain, Kokti has lush green fields and tall shady trees. Even in summer, the weather there remains quite pleasant. During a visit to the village in mid-April, the Herald found out that some displaced people who were able to make it back to the village could do so only after striking a compromise with Nawaz Khan. Many villagers told the Herald that they had received only a fraction of the compensation for their damaged houses; the rest of the money had gone to Nawaz Khan. “My house was partially damaged and Nawaz Khan asked me to give him my identity card. He received the compensation money amounting to 160,000 rupees against my identity card but gave me only 10,000 rupees. Three other relatives of mine were treated the same way,” said a local resident not wanting to be named for security reasons.

He said he and some others had been able to stay back in the village by letting Nawaz Khan take most of the compensation. Otherwise, he said, “we could have been subjected to the same treatment as those living in the camps.” Nawaz Khan will not just physically harm those who do not obey him, he also punishes them by cutting off their water supply, many villagers told the Herald.

Displaced people are transported to IDP camps. - File Photo

Displaced people are transported to IDP camps. – By Abdul Majeed Goraya

Nawaz Khan admitted that he had received the compensation money for all 85 houses listed by the government as damaged in the village — in some cases, by also presenting the identity cards of tenants who were not the real occupants of those houses. He also accepted that the families now in camps had been living in the damaged houses for generations. But he insisted that those houses were not built by those families or their elders. “They have no right over compensation as the damaged houses were not built by them,” he told the Herald in an interview.

Life in the camp is hellish compared to the one left behind in Kotki. Living in the camp with his five children, Hussain finds it very tough. “At times it becomes extremely difficult to brave the vagaries of the weather in these tents,” he says. Temperature varies between zero in winter to 50 degrees in summer in the area where the camps are located.

An even bigger problem is to make ends meet every single day. Since, officially, all those displaced from Bajaur should have gone home by now, authorities have withdrawn all humanitarian assistance from those in the camps. For the last two months, those living in the two camps have not received even the most basic food assistance. There are also no opportunities for earning a livelihood in the camps. Many male members of the families living there go to Pabbi and Nowshera, sometimes even to Peshawar, to work as daily-wage labourers.

Authorities, however, seem totally oblivious to the problem. Jabbar Shah, the political agent in Bajaur Agency, claims he has not received any complaints from any of those displaced from Kotki, regarding the payment of compensation money. “If they have any complaint, they can still contact the political administration in accordance with the existing tribal law,” he says in a telephone interview with the Herald.

People in the camps say this is a standard reply they have been receiving for months. They have not only contacted the political administration but have also met the representatives of the army to get their rights but all in vain, they say. “The mala fide on the part of the people in government is quite clear. Why did they not distribute compensation directly among the displaced people? Why did they hand over all the money to Nawaz Khan so that he could distribute it as he pleased?” asks one of them.
When Husain finds no answers to these questions, he gets furious. “Nawaz Khan’s attitude is compelling us to go to any extreme — even to join the Taliban to get our due,” he says.

 

Networks of trouble

A teenage daughter throwing herself at her father to protect him from motorcycle-riding assailants spraying bullets at him from the side of a moving auto rickshaw he is travelling in: This is not a scene out of a movie but a real incident that happened on January 27, 2014 in Lahor, a tehsil of Swabi district. The target of the attack was Javed Khan, an assistant sub-inspector working for the Special Branch of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police in Swabi. Shabana, his daughter, was ailing that day and, at 8:30 in the morning, the two were going to a hospital in the Shah Mansoor area for her check-up, when two people riding a motorcycle appeared besides their auto rickshaw and started firing at Khan. “Please stop this,” Shabana cried in anguish, as she pleaded with the attackers to spare her father’s life. “They fired 14 bullets at me,” says Javed Khan, who is now recuperating from the multiple wounds he sustained in the attack.
This was a second attempt on his life. When he first came under attack in September, 2011, he knew the attacker. “He was Faiz Muhammad of Nabi village, Swabi, a local commander of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP),” says Khan. The Taliban are after him as they believe that the information he had provided to security forces led to the killing of two militants in 2008.
He is not the only police official in Swabi to have come under Taliban attack of late. About 18 policemen have lost their lives in targeted killing in the last year or so at the hands of the Taliban; so have many workers of non-governmental organisations as well as political activists. The cruel irony, in such difficult times for local people, is that some of them have to turn to the Taliban for protection. Even though Khan is a police official, he is going to get in touch with Adnan Rasheed, a Taliban commander, who is also related to him, to ensure that he is not targeted again. He did the same when he was first attacked.

Textbook politics

 

School girls attend the school assembly before their classes in Mingora. — Photo by AFP

School girls attend the school assembly before their classes in Mingora. — Photo by AFP

In late September 2013, the chairman of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Textbook Board received a letter stamped as “Most Immediate”. Signed by Bashirul Haq, a section officer at the Elementary and Secondary Education Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the letter mentions a “consultative meeting” held at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Textbook Board in Peshawar on August 15, 2013, which had decided that the next textbooks to be published in the province needed “amendments of immediate nature”. It also carries the signatures of two more officials – the Secretary Editorial and Printing and the deputy secretary – both of whom have written brief notes on the letter, suggesting further discussion and further necessary action, respectively. Everything becomes muddled after this stage.
According to the provincial government’s rules for its internal operations, a section officer of the education department cannot write a letter to the chairman of the textbook board suggesting amendments in textbooks. Amending textbooks is the mandate of the curriculum wing of the department whereas the textbook board is only a printing agency which cannot make changes to any book on its own. To confound the situation further, the provincial government informed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly that the letter was actually fake.
Section officer Haq, however, admits to have written the letter. “It is a matter of routine to issue such letters on the recommendations of the committees formed by the department,” he says. “It was, indeed, the beginning of correspondence between the textbook board authorities and the education department,” he tells the Herald.
girls walk up to their classes at a school in Mingora, the same school which was also attended by Malala Yousufzai. — Photo by AP

girls walk up to their classes at a school in Mingora, the same school which was also attended by Malala Yousufzai. — Photo by AP

Whether authentic or otherwise, the letter has gained a lot of attention for its subject matter — a consultative meeting to review textbooks. The provincial assembly members belonging to the Awami National Party (ANP), which headed the previous ruling coalition in the province, reacted strongly over the fact that such a meeting took place. They were enraged that the provincial government was trying to reverse changes in the curriculum that the ANP-led government had made during 2008 and 2013. Their protest in the assembly forced Muhammad Atif, the provincial minister for elementary and secondary education, to declare the letter as fake. He denied that a  consultative meeting had taken place to review textbooks and that there had been any official correspondence between his department and the textbook board on the issue.
This should have ended the confusion but it did not, as the government took no administrative action against the official, or the officials, involved in writing the ‘fake’ letter. The government mererly transferred the writer of the controversial letter to another section of the education department.
The ANP legislators, therefore, are worried that the government might be covering up its attempts to change the curriculum. Another development on the same subject – and, incidentally, taking place the same day as the consultative meeting took place – suggests that their worries are not entirely unfounded.
A working group, comprising senior teachers, academicians and curriculum experts, did meet in Peshawar on August 15, 2013, and discussed curriculum reforms. But the meeting was neither official nor did the group include officers of the education department. It consisted of activists belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), the second largest partner in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s coalition government. Sources in JI tell the Herald that the working group did come up with certain recommendations for curriculum changes.
Senior JI leaders in Peshawar tell the Herald that the meeting took place because the issue of curriculum changes is important for the party. There is a strong demand within the JI to do away with the changes made in the curriculum by the previous government, says Shabir Ahmed Khan, the provincial general secretary of JI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “We want those changes reversed.”
Girls are pictured during an on going lecture in class at a school in Mingora, KPK. — Photo by AFP

Girls are pictured during an on going lecture in class at a school in Mingora, KPK. — Photo by AFP

Shabir Ahmed Khan accuses the ANP government of having ignored the Muslim identity in the revised curriculum. The chapters on important Muslim personages, including the Prophet of Islam and some of his caliphs, have been removed from the books and some sketches have been included which go against local norms and traditions, he adds.  “Can anybody even imagine that a girl in the Pakhtun society would wear a skirt or shorts?” he says. To him, it matters little if the girl shown in a book wearing a skirt is not real but just the sketch of an imaginary table tennis player.
The JI working group has reservations over how the changed curriculum does not include pro-jihad lessons. “In a book of Islamiyat, a four-page chapter on jihad has been removed,” says Shabir Ahmed Khan. For him, such a change is not in tune with the times that Pakistan is going through. “Our homeland is under threat. It is being droned by American forces and we have to defend ourselves against the Americans. In these circumstances, is teaching our youth the ideology of jihad a sin?” he asks.
The working group also has objections over the inclusion of an essay on International Parents’ Day which the JI considers as being against the teachings of Islam. The group also objects to a paragraph in a history textbook for class six students, wherein Emperor Ashoka has been portrayed as a kind-hearted ruler who would consider his subjects as his family. The group also wants Darwin’s theory of evolution altogether removed from textbooks.
In addition to these major changes, the JI also does not want textbooks to show hospitals, ambulances and operation theatres with the sign of a cross (+) on them. That sign must be replaced by a crescent, recommends the party’s working group. The party also demands authorities to remove pictures of pet dogs and of the Roman Catholic Church from textbooks.
The ANP leaders aver that the curriculum was changed in accordance with the 2006 recommendations of the Education Sector Reform Commission, a high-profile forum comprising eminent historians and educationists, among others. Dr Khadim Hussain, an ANP ideologue and the managing director of the Baacha Khan Trust Educational Foundation, says that the provincial government of his party made curriculum changes after the 18th Constitutional Amendment empowered it to do so. “The curriculum wing, as long as it was a federal department, was reluctant to implement the recommendations of the commission. In the wake of the Constitutional amendment, the wing was devolved to the provincial government,” he says. This made it easy for the provincial government to carry out the recommended changes.
Girls are pictured during a lecture at a school in Mingora. — Photo by AFP

Girls are pictured during a lecture at a school in Mingora. — Photo by AFP

Hussain says the changes were aimed at cleansing the curriculum of the content included in it during General Ziaul Haq’s regime, which was focused on producing a mindset needed to serve jihadi ideology. Glorification of war heroes, demonisation of other races and religions, gender imbalance, neglect of indigenous culture and history, and marginalisation of minorities were major elements in the curriculum that the ANP tried to change, he says. The Quranic verses and sayings of the Prophet regarding jihad, with special focus on killing infidels, were introduced in textbooks during Haq’s era to achieve certain foreign policy objectives, says Hussain. The demonisation of the followers of other faiths, as preached in textbooks, has now degenerated into the demonisation of people who do not belong to your sect, he adds.
The ANP government, instead, included chapters on its leader Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as Baacha Khan, in school textbooks for different subjects and different grades. Non-Muslim students were also given the option to study ethics, instead of having to read Islamiyat as a compulsory subject.
The JI, however, considers Baacha Khan as a controversial figure whose ideology is not in line with the majority of people residing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “As far as including indigenous culture and history in textbooks is concerned, we have many other Pakhtun leaders who deserve to be given space in our textbooks but the ANP government only glorified its own leaders like Bacha Khan, Khan Abdul Jabbar Khan – popularly known as Dr Khan Sahib – and Khan Abdul Ghani Khan,” says Shabir Ahmed Khan. The ANP government did not take into consideration the services of “real and non-controversial” heroes of the Pakhtun soil, he claims. For example, he says, Sheikh Mali introduced the land settlement system in Swabi, Buner, Shangla and Swat districts even before the British came up with a land settlement system for the Subcontinent. His other hero is Bayazid Ansari, who is believed to have invented the Pashto script. “But there is not a single word about these heroes of Pakhtun land in the changed curriculum. That is why we want to reverse the changes made in the curriculum,” says Shabir Ahmed Khan.
But in its recommendations, the JI working group has been as selective as it alleges the ANP to have been. For instance, the group has recommended the inclusion of the Al-Khidmat Foundation, the party’s social welfare wing, in the civics curriculum for class 11, in a section that covers non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Girls taking lessons in a school in Swat. — Photo by AFP

Girls taking lessons in a school in Swat. — Photo by AFP

Shabir Ahmed Khan, however, clarifies that his party has, so far, not taken up the recommendations of the working group with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the main partner in the provincial ruling coalition. The JI has informally discussed some of the reservations it has over the curriculum with the education minister but there has been no formal consultation between the two parties, he says.
Atif, the provincial education minister, says the entire brouhaha over curriculum changes is a storm in a teacup. According to him, such changes are not on the priority list of the PTI government. “We are focusing on governance issues in the education sector, and changes in curriculum will be taken up at some other time,” he tells the Herald. When asked about the letter, Atif says no such communication took place. He also does not feel the need to take action against officials who are signatories to the one that exists.
The minister may do better by investigating more about the letter — who wrote it and what for. After all, knowing who is doing what under his ministry should be a part of the better governance he is talking about.Comparative disadvantage
By Xari Jalil

A private school’s syllabus has come under scrutiny for the wrong reasons

“I will not tolerate any interference in my religion,” an angry parent told Mubashir Lucman, the controversial ARY News talk-show host, on September 16, 2013. She was discussing the change that the Lahore Grammar School (LGS), an elite private educational institution, had made in its syllabus — allegedly replacing Islamiyat (a compulsory subject in Pakistan) with comparative religions as a subject.

While lambasting the school for teaching children things they did not need nor understand, Lucman called on the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to take immediate action and right the wrong. The chief minister promptly listened. Within a week, the school was barred by the Punjab government from teaching comparative religions, pending an official inquiry about what the subject contained. Almost four months have passed since then but the school has not heard from the government about the outcome of the inquiry and whether the teaching of the subject could be resumed.
Lucman and, by extension, the Punjab government have failed to realise that LGS had introduced comparative religions as a subject two years ago, and it had not replaced Islamiyat. Nasrene Shah, the head of the main branch of LGS in Lahore’s Gulberg neighbourhood, tells the Herald that the school cannot remove Islamiyat from its syllabus since it is a compulsory subject. She adds that most of the students and their parents had no problem with the introduction of comparative religions as a subject. “The fact is that our students were very happy with it and we received a positive response concerning the subject’s introduction,” says Shah. A handful of parents, she adds, did raise a few objections. “I told them that the school was not putting an end to teaching Islamiyat.”
But, once a television channel and the provincial government got involved, the issue became too hot for the school to handle by simply meeting and talking to parents. “It clearly has become a political issue,” Shah says, and adds that she has sent the contents of the school syllabus on comparative religions as per the official direction to the government “but there has been no response”.
The Punjab government, on its part, has constituted a committee to see if there is any “objectionable material” in the syllabus. The committee comprises three senior officials — Secretary Schools Education Abdul Jabbar Shaheen, Punjab Textbook Board Chairman Nawazish Ali, and Punjab Curriculum Authority Chairman Saleem Akhtar Kiani.
Even as the official word is awaited, those who want the youth to be aware of people of different religious backgrounds so as to understand them better and, possibly, treat them better, are upset. The Facebook page representing LGS carries a post with a similar message. “Our institution believes in inculcating values such as tolerance and empathy in all our students … We aim to educate about Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and Hinduism — and their fundamental teachings. Doing so, we believe, will enlighten our students about the importance of ‘peaceful coexistence.’”
Many parents readily agree with this. “Not tolerating the study of other religions and still claiming that Islam is the most tolerant religion in the world is highly ironic,” says the parent of an LGS student. “These double standards have become a part of the social DNA of Pakistan.”
Baela Raza Jamil, who heads Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi, a non-governmental institution (NGO) working in the field of education, is even more vociferous in her criticism of the official action. With such restrictions, she says, we will have “a curriculum that is afraid and knowledge that is limited”. Without reading about other religions, she says, we will never accept the existence of people who have beliefs different to ours. “We will be living in a world without friends.”
Dr Taimur Rahman, a professor of political science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), believes that the government should have had no business interfering in what an educational institution is teaching. “Institutions all over the world guard their academics fiercely so that their students are equipped with new ways of thinking,” he says. Rahman also says that the Punjab government should have paused before taking quick action over a television talk show. “How has it become a big issue now when the subject was being taught for two years?” he asks.
Dr Mubarak Haider, a historian based in Lahore, agrees. “At a time when the society is so deeply polarised, the government should have treaded very carefully.”
Officials, however, claim that the government has unrestricted powers to control what is being taught at private schools. Ali, chairman of the Punjab Textbook Board, cites a 1984 law that allows the government to monitor what is being taught at private schools and even change it, if needed. He, however, does not name that law.
Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan says the government will do exactly that — change the curriculum if needed. The three-member government, he says, “will propose necessary modifications in the syllabus” for comparative religions before the subject is allowed to be taught at any school. “No one will be allowed to change the basic ideology of Pakistan,” the minister warns.

No-go areas

In theory, the humanitarian needs of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s residents should get preferential attention. After all, provision of social services like health, education, human resource development and sanitation has suffered immensely in the province due to unrelenting acts of violence and terrorism for the last many years. But in practice official procedures and paperwork requirements are hampering rather than helping the work of national and international humanitarian organisations willing to work in the strife-torn region.

Sources at the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF), an Islamabad-based coordination body of 53 international humanitarian organisations, tell the Herald that international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which want to launch projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have to comply with four official procedures: a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with the government of Pakistan, visas for foreign staff, a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the provincial government for the projects, and an NOC for travelling to the project areas.

Federal Influentials’ Agency

An exterior shot of the FIA headquarters

“I am bothering you to inform that Mr Tahir Jamil, presently working on deputation as Additional Director, Economic Crimes Wing, FIA Headquarters, Islamabad is my nephew. He is interested in absorbing himself in Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on permanent basis. I shall be grateful if you please consider his request favourably for permanent absorption in FIA.”

This is an excerpt from a letter that Railways Minister Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour sent to Interior Minister Rehman Malik on August 4, 2011. Written on Bilour’s official letterhead, the letter is also copied to the then FIA Director General Tehseen Anwar Shah and shows how the process of deputations to the FIA, and subsequent regularisation of services of the officers on deputation, works or, at least, gets initiated. Those interested in a deputation or regularisation of service approach the FIA’s senior officials through personal connections – in many cases, relatives in high places – to get the envelope pushed on their behalf.
As in almost all such cases, Jamil’s deputation violates the Appointment, Promotion and Transfer Rules, 1975, which say that an additional director can only come from the agency’s internal cadre and cannot be an officer on deputation from some other department. Only in extreme circumstances when no suitable officer is available within the FIA can the position of an additional director be filled through other means; there is, however, no dearth of officials within the agency who qualify for that post, says an FIA official.

Other such sources tell the Herald that, since the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government came into power in March 2008, scores of officials from various government departments have managed to get deputations in the FIA, mostly in violation of the 1975 rules. Sources say that around a 100 officers have made it into the FIA over the last four years from departments as varied as the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), the Senate, the fisheries department, the Pakistan International Airlines, the Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) and cantonment boards. Many of these departments are responsible for doing things which are not even remotely linked to what the FIA does as Pakistan’s supreme investigation agency into terrorism, corruption, financial fraud, money laundering and immigration/migration malpractice. The man mentioned in Bilour’s letter as the minister’s nephew originally worked at the National Bank of Pakistan before he joined the FIA on deputation.

Almost all such deputations violate the rule that declares that all FIA posts in grade 16 and above must be filled through a test conducted by the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC). In some cases, those on deputation do not even have the relevant academic qualifications or the required experience for the job they are holding. This applies in the case of Haris Mirza, the son of the Pakistan Television Corporation’s managing director, Yousaf Baig Mirza. He graduated from the University of Westminster, England, in 2011 with a bachelors in business administration and was appointed assistant director at the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta) on a one-year contract on April 16, 2012. In little more than four months, sources say, he succeeded in securing the post of assistant director at the FIA’s counter-terrorism wing. The recommendation for his appointment on deputation in the FIA came from the interior minister’s office which wrote a letter to the Establishment Division on August 7, 2012, seeking Haris Mirza’s transfer from Nacta to the FIA. The post he is deputed to, however, requires a minimum experience of five years, according to government’s rules, sources say. The other serious flaw pointed out in Haris Mirza’s case is that his initial appointment in Nacta was only for one year, whereas his deputation is to last for three years.

In many other cases, officials seeking deputation have been able to pull it off because of their influential political links, such as the Bilour-sponsored Jamil. Syed Yazim Ali Shah and Syed Gada Haidar Shah have succeeded in joining the FIA on deputation thanks to their relationship with Religious Affairs Minister Syed Khursheed Shah — the former is the minister’s stepson and the latter his nephew. Syed Yazim Ali Shah was working at the EOBI before his deputation as assistant director in the FIA’s immigration wing at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport. Syed Gada Haidar Shah was initially posted at the Sindh Assembly, but is now working as an assistant director in the FIA’s counter-terrorism wing.
These two deputations came into the media spotlight in July 2012 when the Sindh High Court heard a petition filed by the United Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a local non-governmental organisation. The petition specifically mentioned Khursheed Shah and the deputations of his relatives as violating a Supreme Court order issued earlier in the year which had said that all officers on deputation should be sent back to their parent departments.

Similarly, Asghar Ali Mangrio, the son of Faqir Mohammad Jadam Mangrio who is a senior Pakistan Muslim League–Functional leader and a member of the National Assembly, managed to secure a position in the FIA in January 2012 as an assistant director in the corporate crime wing, Karachi, even though his initial posting on December 3, 2010, as a deputy manager at the Export Processing Zones Authority was “purely on a temporary basis”.

The organisational structure of FIA

Aamir Ali, whose mother Shahnaz Sheikh was a member of the National Assembly representing the Pakistan Muslim League–Quaid-e-Azam before she was disqualified by the Supreme Court last month for holding dual citizenship, got his career fast-tracked after joining the FIA on deputation on November 30, 2011. He was originally serving as a grade 19 officer in Nadra and about four months after joining the FIA, he became an additional director of the agency’s economic crime wing. Also, just under three months after securing his deputation, he sent a request to the interior ministry to have his services regularised in the FIA as a “certified forensic accountant”. The request is under consideration.

Such deputations, according to sources in the FIA, are having a negative impact on the agency’s performance. Inexperienced officers working on deputation bring a bad name to the country during their dealings with international and foreign agencies like Interpol, the United Nations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), says an FIA officer seeking to keep his identity secret. He puts this down to short cuts implicit in the deputation process. “Those who are appointed directly to the FIA through the FPSC have to undergo one year of mandatory training in subjects like policing, investigation and white-collar crime, and laws such as police rules, the Pakistan Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code,” he says. “How will a person thoroughly bereft of any such training deliver?” he asks, adding that those who join the agency through proper channels hate to take orders from someone who is not even familiar with the ABC of investigation. “This badly affects the FIA’s performance.”

Others say deputations, out of turn promotions and regularisation of the services of those on deputation hamper regular promotions in the agency, causing frustration among staff hired through regular channels. Some have moved the courts to air their grievances — a few months ago, some FIA officials wrote a letter to the Supreme Court, complaining that “unprofessional officers of various departments working on deputation … [are] causing frustration in the FIA cadre.”

Two cases of fast track regularisation and promotion of officials on deputation in the FIA exemplify why others going through the slower regular process would feel left out. Shahryar Khan joined Nadra on March 1, 2011, as a contract employee. Two months later, he joined the FIA on deputation, and by the end of the year he has been absorbed in the agency as a regular employee as an inspector in grade 16, without having passed an FPSC test or receiving the mandatory one-year training, both officially required for the job.
Nasrullah Gondal’s case is even more curious. Originally a grade 14 sub-inspector in the Punjab Police, he was appointed as an officiating inspector in 2006. Later that year, he joined the FIA on deputation as an assistant director, a grade 17 post, despite the fact that his promotion violated official rules which state that officials on deputation can work only in the same grade in which they were originally appointed in their parent department. In 2008, in another violation of the rules, Gondal’s services were regularised in the FIA in grade 17 and then in 2012, he was promoted to grade 18.

Cases like this are having a serious impact on the pace of regular promotions in the agency. “There are more than 50 inspectors [in the FIA], with over nine to 10 years of experience awaiting promotion to the next grade,” says an inspector working with the agency since 2002. Their promotions are getting delayed because officers on deputation are being regularised and promoted much more quickly, he adds.

While deputation has been going on for decades in Pakistan, what is remarkable is the apparent mad rush to work in the FIA rather than any other department. If we compare the salaries in the Police Services of Pakistan with those in the FIA, we will find that police officers are drawing better salaries, but even they are willing to get deputation appointments in the FIA, says a senior FIA official. Why? Because a posting in the FIA is a very effective means of making quick money, he says, adding that the nature of crimes the FIA handles ranges from petty to high profile, some involving millions of rupees. “An official posted in the immigration or banking wing of the agency, for instance, can make millions overnight.” In his original department, such as Nadra, the Sindh Assembly or the National Bank of Pakistan, he will never get such a chance.

Director-General FIA Muhammad Anwar Virk admits that there is reason for officials to want to become part of the agency: “We have a power-oriented society and people tend to join departments like the FIA to enjoy more power [as compared to their parent departments].” When asked about irregularities in and the impact of deputations, he says, “[Some] FIA officials had reservations over the transfer and absorption of certain people and, in this regard, they have petitioned the court. Now I can only submit before the court as to whether these deputations are adversely affecting the performance of the FIA.”

Detained till death

Four of the ‘Adiyala 11’ have died in controversial circumstances

Ihsanullah, 39, was working with a telephone company when military officials took him away on March 29, 2012, suspecting him of having links with the Taliban. Hailing from the Sambat area of Swat district’s Matta tehsil, which, until 2009, was the bastion of Swat-based Fazlullah-led religious militants, he returned home a week later — dead. His relatives say Ihsanullah, who has left behind three young daughters and a son, was in good health when he was taken into custody but his captors told his family that he had suffered a stroke.

There may have been a reason for his arrest. The Herald’s investigation reveals that one of Ihsanullah’s uncles, Ahmed Jan, was a Taliban commander for Matta tehsil and was killed by security forces following his arrest in Karachi in 2010. Ihsanullah was detained earlier this year, along with his brother Kareemullah, for allegedly having close links with senior leaders of the Taliban in Swat. According to members of their family, the two were first kept at a security-forces camp at Matta Degree College but were later shifted to a secret prison in Matta tehsil’s Shangwati area. Though Ihsanullah and Kareemullah were detained separately and could not see each other, they were still able to talk due to the close proximity of their detention cells.

It was from his cell in Shangwati, in early April, that Ihsanullah told his brother that he was feeling unwell. The previous night, he reportedly told Kareemullah that day, that his interrogators had forced him to hold a piece of metal with a live electric current running through it. At 10 pm that night, Ihsanullah was moved out of his cell only to be brought back by midnight. His brother is said to have heard his anguished cries for the remainder of the night. The following morning, Ihsanullah was shifted to Saidu Teaching Hospital where his relatives were allowed to see him. By noon, he was dead. Officials gave his family a CT scan report which stated that he had suffered a stroke. Whether the report is genuine or not, his relatives are not sure, as they were not present when the scan was conducted. The army also released Kareemullah the day his brother died.

Umer Ali, 35, was living in Kharayri village in Matta tehsil when he died in a similar manner. His brother Aizaz Ali tells the Herald that he, Umer and his father had surrendered to security forces during the military operation in Swat in mid-2009 after their names appeared on an official list classifying them as terrorists. Their father was released after a few days but the two brothers were shifted to a military camp at Matta Degree College. Soon they were shifted to a military detention centre in Sambat area from where they were then moved to another military detention cell at the Pakistan-Austrian Institute for Tourism and Hotel Management (Paithom) in Gulibagh area. They were officially marked as ‘grey’, meaning that the authorities weren’t convinced they were innocent but that there was also no incriminating evidence linking them to the Taliban or to acts of terrorism. Aizaz was released in November 2010 but a day or two after his release some policemen came to his family house and informed him that his brother had died in custody. “My father and some other villagers went to Paithom to receive his body,” Aizaz says. Umer was severely tortured while he was detained at Paithom and he used to complain of severe back pain because of which he was unable to walk properly, claims Aizaz.

In another incident, Ghafoor Khan, a resident of Dadaara village in Swat district’s Kabal tehsil, returned home dead in July 2012. His relatives tell the Herald that he had been under detention for 17 months before his death. His younger brother Shah Gul Amber says that some military officials told their family that Ghafoor was hospitalised in a medical facility set up at Mingora Circuit House. When they reached the place, they found him dead. The military said tuberculosis was the cause of his death.

Sher Ali, 46, another resident of Dadaara village, also died in custody. His brother Sher Alam says he himself had handed over Sher Ali to the military authorities in April 2010. On June 15, 2012 the family came to know that Sher Ali was admitted at the Saidu Teaching Hospital but when they reached there he was already dead. The official reason for his death was cardiac arrest. “I am not powerful enough to fight my case against the security forces which hold all the power in our country,” says Sher Alam. But still he has a problem with the way Sher Ali died. “If my brother was suffering from a cardiac illness, the security forces should have brought this to our notice so that we could make arrangement for his treatment.”
On August 22, 2010, Bakht Zameen, 37, died hours after he was taken into custody. His elderly father Muhammad Ameen says his son was picked up by military men from his grocery shop in Kharayri village at noon the same day. After torturing him for a couple of hours, the military officials asked a local rickshaw driver to take him to a hospital, says Ameen. The driver coincidently belonged to the same village that Bakht came from and took him to his shop. By the time his family joined him, Bakht was alive but unconscious. He died within an hour while he was being shifted to a hospital. Ameen says the military authorities did not allow him to get an autopsy done to determine the reason for Bakht’s sudden death.

Local journalists in Swat have recorded only a few of the 110 or so cases of deaths in custody that have taken place over during the past two years. All of the dead were detained without having been arrested formally, let alone having been charged and tried in a court of law. These detentions received a legal cover through a presidential ordinance, called Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation, 2011, issued in the summer of 2011 and applicable in Swat and the tribal areas. The regulation provides the military with power to detain and interrogate people indefinitely without having to produce them
in court.

Even though security agencies say that all such deaths were natural, officials have never claimed even in a single case that the dead person was not in their custody. However, human rights activists, and the families of the victims, allege that the dead were subjected to severe mental and physical torture, which is what caused their deaths.

Such allegations first exploded into the public square with news reports that some members of the so-called ‘Adiyala 11’ had died while in custody of security agencies. These 11 alleged terrorists were taken away from Rawalpindi’s Adiyala jail in May 2010; since then, two of them have died in detention in tribal areas and two others have breathed their last after they were shifted by security agencies to a hospital in Peshawar.

Malik Jrar Hussain, a Peshawar-based lawyer and council member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, says there are many cases of deaths in custody where military authorities have not allowed the families of the dead to get autopsies done, creating suspicions about the cause of their deaths. First and foremost, he says, cause of death should be established by a neutral authority. “And if it is proven that the death is not natural, then liability should be imposed on those responsible for it,” he says.

But as the families of the Adiyala 11 have found, there is little legal or judicial recourse available in such cases. In spite of all the media attention that the Adiyala 11 case has received, the Supreme Court has been unable to ensure that the detained members of the group are set free as they have been acquitted of all charges by a high court, let alone find out how and why some of them have died.

In fact, families of some detained persons have now developed a new fear: that the prisoner may turn up dead if you move a court for his recovery. A Mingora-based lawyer, who does not want to be named, verifies this. The growing number of deaths in custody has stopped relatives of detained persons from filing habeas corpus petitions with courts fearing that such petitions may place their detained relatives’ lives in danger.

Lawyer Hussain knows of at least two such cases. The relatives of two detained persons – one from Dir and the other from Swabi – recently contacted him to file legal petitions for their recovery but later they nixed the idea. They think that filing cases against state agencies can result in the extrajudicial killing of their relatives and of their deaths in custody, he says. For now they still hope that the detained persons will come back home some day, but no one knows what may happen once the courts start hearing their cases, Hussain adds. They may turn up dead, just as so many others already have.

Paradise lost

A four-kilometre long strip of land is the veritable microcosm of sectarianism in the Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) region. Running through Gilgit city, it starts from Jutial area and ends in Basin. On both sides of the imaginary line running through the strip, neighbourhoods are divided on the basis of sectarian affiliations of their residents. Both the Sunnis and Shias have turned their respective strongholds into no-go areas for the members of the other sect. The Shias cannot venture into Kashrote,JagirBasinand Skarkoi areas and the Sunnis cannot enter Khomar, Nagaral, Majini Mohallah, Amphary,Burmasand Khur areas.

Forced donations

After successfully infusing terror in the minds of the masses, some Taliban groups are now involved in extorting money from businessmen —  based in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, police officials say.

Umar Riaz, the senior superintendent police (SSP) who heads the investigation branch in Peshawar, says cases of extortion by Taliban have been reported in Peshawar’s Matani area. The Taliban of Mohmand Agency also receive protection money or bhatta from Mohmand traders based in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as in their native tribal agency. “Around 50 per cent of the people contacted by such groups agree to pay bhatta after doing some bargaining over the amount,” says an official of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) who does not want to be named. This, the traders believe, is better than being kidnapped and going through the emotional and physical trauma attached with kidnapping, he adds.

A police source who knows how the extortion system works, tells the Herald that the Taliban usually have detailed information about the wealth, income and assets of the people they call to demand bhatta. “First they [the militants] make a call to their target and ask for money. If the receiver of the call says that it is impossible for him to arrange the huge amount of money being demanded, he is provided with all the information about his assets including his bank balance,” the source says. At the next stage, an explosive device is blown up in his car or near his house, in order to make him realise that he has no option but to pay, he adds.

In one such case, according to the IB official, the Taliban sent a message to a Matani-based hundi operator and demanded three million rupees as bhatta which the Taliban usually dub as donation for their “holy cause”. After the businessman did not pay the money, the militants blew up a bomb near the entrance of his house, killing a women working in the house. Officials say such terror tactics also force most people paying bhatta to avoid registering cases with the police.