Saturday, January 15, 2011

NA committee condemns assassination of Geo reporter

NA committee condemns assassination of Geo reporter

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Myra Imran

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights has condemned the incident of target killing in Karachi in which Geo reporter, Wali Khan Babar, was killed while he was on his way back home after completing his official duties.

In a meeting held under the Chairmanship of MNA Riaz Fatyana, the committee members expressed concern over the increasing number of target killing incidents in the country

The issue was raised by MNA Marvi Memon in the committee who particularly focused on the increasing number of journalists targeted during the last year. She urged the government to provide security to the media persons as they work at the frontline of dangers. “I had interaction with Wali Khan Babar when I was participating in a sit-in at the Karachi Press Club. I found him a talented and hardworking young reporter,” she said while praising the services of Babar. The committee also discussed in detail the issues faced by the people who apply for the insurance. Riaz Fatyana briefed the committee on the issues faced by the people especially widows and disabled who apply for insurance claims. He said that recovery process has been made too complicated by the insurance companies and documents are usually too complicated to understand for a common Pakistani.

The committee also criticised the insurance companies for the violations of the Insurance Ordinance 2000, which bounds the companies to publish insurance documents in simple and regional languages. The committee members pointed out the ordinance also ensures the establishment of Insurance Tribunals to hear the insurance claims related cases.

The committee was briefed that there is only one such tribunal in Karachi that is also not functioning because the position of chairman is vacant. Representative of the Ministry of Finance informed the committee members that the summary of a new Insurance tribunal has been moved to the prime minister. “The proposed Insurance Tribunal located in Lahore will be a central body that will hear such cases form all over the country and its chairman will be a high court judge,” he said.

The standing committee also directed insurance companies to establish small disputes response committees, which are also an obligation under the law. The committee recommended that health and disability cover should also be provided to the policyholders. They recommended that insurance companies should update their clients on regular basis about the status of their insurance policies and insurance agents should brief clients about the process involved in the recovery of their claims.

State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan Chairman Shahid Aziz Siddiqui informed the committee that a proposal for health cover is under progress whereas the company is already providing disability cover to policyholders. He briefed the meeting that currently there are 7.2 million policyholders registered with their company including 3.2 million life insurance clients and 4 million group insurances.

He said that in 2009 they provided an amount of Rs1.5 billion under death claims and till November 2010 they gave Rs1.2 billion whereas, in 2009 maturity claims worth Rs7.47 billion were disbursed among the clients. Shahid Aziz informed that in case of death claim they take action within two years of the death of the policyholder after following specific procedure. However, he said, those claims, which were submitted after two years were not entertained. He said that they have only 6,933 pending claims in which 41 per cent cases are the ones where the company did not receive any response from the client.

The committee also discussed the case of Haleema Bhutto, a ‘Karo Kari’ victim form Ghotki. The committee members condemned robbery at Hindu Temple in Sindh and urged the government to provide protection to worship places of all religions.

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