EU rights activists shocked over Waziristan market demolition as punishment for Pak army officer’s killing

Brussels [Belgium]/Geneva [Switzerland], Nov. 6 : European Union human rights watchdogs and rights activists based in Brussels and Geneva have expressed shock and dismay over the Pakistan Army and local authorities move to dynamite and demolish the Al-Muhib market in the popular Rustam Bazaar area of tribal-dominant South Waziristan, as collective punishment to avenge the killing of an army officer in an explosion.

Many others were also injured in the incident that took place earlier this week. The political agent in South Waziristan Agency, Zafarul Islam Khattak, was quoted by the Dawn, as saying that the action was taken under the collective and territorial responsibility clauses of the Frontier Crime Regulation (FCR) Act.

Britain's colonial rulers had devised and introduced the FCR as an extension of already existing local laws and traditions with the aim of keeping the local Pakhtoon population subjugated and disciplined.

The order to demolish the market was taken on Friday, three days after Major Imran of the Pakistan Army was killed and 10 others injured in an explosion while undertaking a search operation.

Following the incident, the local authorities had also imposed a curfew in the Wana Bazaar area, forcing over 6,000 shops to down their shutters.

The owner of the Al-Muhib, Ali Wazir, claimed to have suffered huge losses due to the demolition. He said explosions take across the country, but nowhere do markets get dynamited as retaliatory punishment.

Local sources said the Rustam Bazaar was currently under the control of security forces. Efforts by local elders to resolve the issue through the Jirga have failed to produce any result. In recent months, some members of the European Parliament have also joined a growing chorus against Pakistan, urging it to be made more accountable for what they called "its misdirected policies" in extending direct and indirect support to terror outfits operating from its soil.

They have also ramped up pressure on Islamabad to allow international scrutiny on matters related to the protection of human rights of the indigenous population, particularly those designated as minorities.

They have said that the years of concerted government use of extremist groups as instruments of mayhem against political activists, journalists and intellectuals inimical to their interests is unacceptable.

One European Union Parliamentarian, Alberto Cirio, said in a recent article that has been published by EP Today, that, "The stark choice now before the Pakistan government is either to move against all jihadi groups active on its soil, or be willing to face a blow back from those protected from such action, like that witnessed in Quetta." The European Parliament has repeatedly thrown light on the sizeable presence of the Pakistan Army in that country's tribal belt, and believes that it could be behind the brutal violation and denial of human rights to the local population.

There is also a view in Europe that Islamabad continues to promote extremist groups and charities affiliated to them, such as the Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (a front of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa) and the Al Khair (a front of the Jaish-e-Mohammad).

The systematic abuse of human rights reflects a total contempt for all international human rights laws, said the European rights activists.

Source: ANI