ISLAMABAD - A Senate committee on Tuesday took notice of human rights violation by political administration in Khyber Agency where Maaz Shinwari was arrested under Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) before the commencement of matriculation examination.

The Senate Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) met in the Parliament House summoned Political Agent Khyber Agency and Additional Chief Secretary FATA to explain as to why an underage student was put behind bars and was not released at a time when his examination was started in the tribal area.

The political administration arrested Maaz Shinwari in April this year, a Matric student, after a scuffle between two rival tribes occurred in Landi Kotal Bazaar of Khyber Agency . The arrest was made before matriculation exams commenced in the tribal agency.

A petition filed with Senate states that Maaz is innocent and has been arrested illegally. Mirajuddin Shinwari, brother of the detained boy alleged that the administration arrested his brother under FCR rules according to which a person who is above 60 years and below 18 years of age cannot be held captive.

He complained that despite repeated requests and written applications requesting the release of Maaz before his annual exams remained futile as the political administration did not let the boy take his exams thus wasting his academic year.

The Senate committee that met under the chair of Senator Hilal Rehman and attended by other Senators, including Senator Farhatullah Baber who was special invitee to look into the HR aspect of the issue, condemned the incident.

Senator Farhatullah Babar said that Political Agent has used both executive and judicial powers to arrest the underage boy regretting that the reason FATA people were opting militancy were the draconian FCR laws that provided little justice to area people.

However, Additional Chief Secretary FATA assured the committee that he would personally intervene into the matter to ensure that justice is done with the detained student.

It is to be mentioned here that members of Khogakhel tribe, to which Maaz Shinwari belongs, have already protested to demand the release of the detained Maaz and have observed hunger strike to press political administration to set the boy free.

The committee was informed that the issue of arrest of Maaz was in trial court (FCR) therefore it should not be discussed. This infuriated Senator Sajjad Turi who said political agent has not only used judicial power but has also exercised executive authority for which he has been summoned.

But Senator Farhatullah Babar intervened and said that it was satisfactory that Additional Chief Secretary FATA has assured to look into the matter and give justice to Maaz Shinwari at the earliest.

The committee members questioned FCR that they termed as draconian law in FATA arguing there were hundreds of cases initiated against tribal people by invoking the colonial era rules.

The meeting also took notice of the deteriorating health and educational facilities in FATA regretting that there was no hospital or educational institution in the entire FATA region that could cater to the growing demand of people.

Senator Taj Afridi said that the claims regarding execution of ‘revolutionary’ steps taken in FATA, were not visible on ground calling for transparency in utilization of resources in the tribal areas.

The meeting was attended by Senators Hidayatullah, Saleh ShahMomin Khan Afridi, Sitara Ayaz, Nisar Muhammad Khan, Ahmed Hassan and officials from FATA Secretariat.