ISLAMABAD – The Foreign Ministry has asked the
law-enforcement agencies to provide it with a ‘fact-finding’
report on the uprising of tenants and as to what actually led to
their killing in clashes with armed forces at Okara Military Farm,
The Nation learnt it reliably.
The Foreign Office was reportedly approached by leading
international human rights watchdogs who expressed concern over
the killing of peasants agitating against the the “unlawful claim”
by the army on the lands.
It has been learnt that the US-based Human Rights Watch and
Amnesty International with its head office in the UK have
expressed their shock over the blatant violation of tenants rights
with the former threatening to raise the issue in the United
There are reports that the government wants cleansing its human
rights record before European Union Chief Election Observer John
Cushnahan visits Pakistan next month.
According to the official sources, the EU has linked the
ratification of its economic agreements such as the ‘Third
Generation Agreement’, with the yet to be submitted report by John
Cushnahan about the status of democracy and human rights in
Article 1 of the said agreement binds the signatory countries to
demonstrate complete respect for democracy and human rights.
Pakistan’s negotiations with the EU on the subject had started
several years ago, however formal inking of the agreement was
delayed following events leading to extra-constitutional military
rule and subsequent alleged electoral rigging in the country.
The government is trying to seek Cushnahan’s goodwill, who is
believed to have opposed its approval earlier in his report to the
EU Parliament, describing October 2002’s elections as “seriously
flawed,” for the ratification of agreement .
As many as 18 peasants have allegedly been killed by the Rangers
and armed forces in different parts of the Punjab since the
tenants association — Anjuman Mazzareen-e-Punjab— initiated a
movement against, what they describe, illegal occupation of their
lands by military and others.
However, the government is yet to move to the rescue of helpless
tenants cultivating their lands for the last 90 years.
The tenants had been cultivating these lands since 1913 after the
Gora soldiers got a land of over 27,000 acres of land from the
Punjab government on a Rs 15,000 annual lease to grow fodder for
The land was returned in 1943 after the lease agreement expired
and was lately taken over by the Pakistan Army after independence
which has been making its use with tenants as the real
crop-grower, officials said.
It has been learnt that the provincial Home Department is hiding
facts in its informations being forwarded to the federal
government for the preparation of report on the subject. As
according to the Home Department, the tenants themselves killed
their fellows in order to aggravate the matter.
The report being prepared for the Foreign Office lacks credibility
as it does not concede to the demand of peasants being the
legitimate occupants of land currently in their possession under
the law of the land, according to sources in the Punjab
Interestingly, these peasants were forced to concede to official
demand to disown property rights of their land when Punjab Chief
Minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi recently announced to distribute
one lack acre arable land among the tenants.