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Friday May 24, 2024

No change seen in Pakistan’s human rights situation, says US report

By Wajid Ali Syed
April 24, 2024
Pakistani soldiers and policemen stand guard outside the Haripur central jail. — AFP/File
Pakistani soldiers and policemen stand guard outside the Haripur central jail. — AFP/File

WASHINGTON: The Pakistani government “rarely took credible steps to identify and punish officials who may have committed human rights abuses” in the country, says US Human Rights report.

The 2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices points out that there were no significant changes in the human rights situation in Pakistan in the past year. These significant human rights issues included credible reports of unlawful or arbitrary killings including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, torture and cases of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by the government or its agents, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, arbitrary detention and political prisoners.

The report further lists serious issues like enforced disappearance, serious restrictions on freedom of expression and media freedom, including violence against journalists, unjustified arrests and disappearances of journalists, censorship, criminal defamation laws and laws against blasphemy, serious restrictions on internet freedom, substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, including overly restrictive laws on the operation of nongovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, restrictions of religious freedom and restrictions on freedom of movement.

The annual Human Rights Report on Pakistan also identifies “serious government corruption; serious government restrictions on domestic and international human rights organizations, extensive gender-based violence, crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting members of religious, racial and ethnic minorities” in the country.

It stated that violence, abuse, and social and religious intolerance by militant organizations and other non-state actors, both local and foreign, contributed to a culture of lawlessness.

Terrorist and cross-border militant attacks against civilians, soldiers and police caused hundreds of casualties. Military, police and other law enforcement agencies continued to carry out significant campaigns against militant and terrorist groups, the report’s executive summary concluded.