Abducted children: Punjab to seek help from Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa



ISLAMABAD: Following a surge in child kidnappings in Pakistan’s most populous province, authorities in Punjab have decided to approach Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa for help in apprehending the suspected perpetrators.

The move comes days after the Supreme Court took notice of the missing children and directed the inspector general of police in Punjab to submit a detailed report on the matter.

In 2015 alone there were more than 1,200 kidnappings reported in Punjab. The figures are just as alarming for 2016. Until now 767 children have been kidnapped from Punjab mostly from Lahore, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur and Bahawalnagar. The number of unreported cases, however, is believed to be much higher as families of the victims tend to avoid taking help from law enforcement agencies.

Punjab, which is already engaged with the federal government against child kidnapping, has now decided to reach out to Sindh and K-P in the wake of an information leak that militants and criminal elements from those provinces may be involved in kidnapping the children, a senior Punjab government functionary told The Express Tribune.

Requesting anonymity, the official said that after targeted operations were conducted against militants and criminals in Karachi and military operations in North Waziristan and Khyber agencies in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), some of these had taken refuge in different parts of Punjab while others fled the country.

“The big cities are their target,” the official said.

He added that elements from Fata still maintain strong support bases and connections in K-P which is why they were seeking help from Peshawar.

“The military action in Fata wiped out terrorism. As a result, the fleeing terrorists are now mushrooming elsewhere, mainly in K-P, due to its close proximity to the tribal region,” the source said adding  that some of these terrorists were supervising criminal activities in Punjab from areas bordering the province including Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, Mardan, Kohat and Peshawar.

In a recent conversation, Punjab’s Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told The Express Tribune that some intra-provincial and intra-district gangs were also involved in kidnapping children.

“These gangs have offshoots in other provinces where they operate from,” he said without naming any province. “The matter is being taken up with the relevant authorities.”

“This is something we cannot let go. We will trace the perpetrators and take them to task.” The minister said kidnapping children and then demanding ransom is easy for the kidnappers.

“Children are soft targets. A child playing in the street or not being monitored by family members in a public places or is alone anywhere is a vulnerable target,” Sanaullah explained.

“For families, it is their foremost responsibility to protect children by keeping an eye on them. If this is done, there would be a drastic fall in kidnappings.”

Punjab government sources said during a high-level huddle, chaired by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, it was decided that the issue of child kidnappings will be formally taken up with Sindh and K-P governments and seek their cooperation.

“We want to contact both the provincial governments—of Sindh and K-P— simultaneously, to ensure smooth coordination and to avoid any confusion in order to go about tackling this issue through a uniform approach,” the official added. While the Supreme Court is keeping a close eye on the case, Punjab police told judges last week that they have recovered 715 children.

Original news : http://tribune.com.pk/story/1153229/abducted-children-punjab-seek-help-sindh-khyber-pakhtunkhwa/