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HRW urges Pakistan govt to address 'serious human rights abuses'

Updated Aug 23, 2013 07:24pm


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The Pakistan Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) Ali Dayan Hasan. -File Photo
The Pakistan Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) Ali Dayan Hasan. -File Photo

NEW YORK: Pakistan’s new government should urgently address serious human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said today in a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif outlining “10 Steps to Improve Human Rights.”

The abuses include attacks on religious minorities, disappearances in Balochistan, and impunity for abusive militant groups.

In May 2013, Pakistanis went to the polls, effecting an historic transition of power from one democratically elected government to another. Prime Minister Sharif has an important opportunity to create a rights-respecting government that abides by the rule of law and restores the public’s faith in democratic institutions, HRW said.

“Pakistan has made impressive gains in very challenging circumstances since democracy was restored in 2008,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at HRW. “But unless the government calls a halt to serious human rights abuses, these gains may slip away.”

Since 2012, well over 650 Shia Muslims have been killed in targeted attacks across Pakistan, the majority from the Hazara community in Balochistan province. Sunni militant groups, such as the ostensibly banned Lashkar-e Jhangvi, operate with widespread impunity across Pakistan.

The government should apprehend and prosecute those responsible for attacks on the Shia and other groups at risk, HRW said.

“Militant attacks on the Shia have occurred with increasing ferocity while the security forces have looked on helplessly,” Hasan said.

“Whether the failure to hold and deter attackers is a function of incompetence or complicity by elements of the security forces, the government has a responsibility to reverse this state of affairs.”

Human Rights Watch has recorded repeated enforced disappearances and killings of suspected Baloch militants and opposition activists by the military, intelligence agencies, and the paramilitary Frontier Corps.

Baloch nationalists and other militant groups also stepped up attacks on non-Baloch civilians in 2012 and 2013.

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should take all necessary measures to end enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and arbitrary detentions in Balochistan,” Hasan said.

“But for that to happen the government should fully investigate and prosecute as appropriate everyone, regardless of position or rank, who orders or commits abuses.”

Prime Minister Sharif should redouble efforts to protect religious minorities, and imposing a moratorium on the use of Section 295-C, the blasphemy law, would be a first step, HRW said.

The government should also enact legislation against domestic violence and measures to improve investigation and prosecution of “honor” killings and acid attacks, which target women.

The government also needs to provide greater protection for journalists, who work in a climate of fear that impedes coverage of the state security forces and militant groups.

To cement in place mechanisms to protect human rights and to make human rights a priority in government policymaking, the government should promptly constitute the National Human Rights Commission, for which legislation has already been enacted.

“There are many challenges to making Pakistan a rights-respecting democracy and there are no quick fixes,” Hasan said.

“But for the development of Pakistan, it is essential for the government to take concrete steps to protect fundamental civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights as part of an active human rights agenda.”


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Comments (13) Closed

saeed Aug 23, 2013 07:47pm

Is this paid news? This news is not worth printing in Pakistani newspapers. HRW says nothing about human rights abuses in western countries. The fact that they are head quartered in New York speaks volume about their affiliation.

Tahira Aug 23, 2013 09:17pm

The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi acts with the blessings of important folks in the current government. Has Mumtaz Qadri been punished for killing Salman Taseer? Why was one of the attackers of Lahore Ahmadi mosques released after he was caught by those present and handed over to Police but was let go? The Judges in courts are afraid of vandetta against them and their families. So are Government officials. What does HRW suggest to overcome this cowardice? No one wants to be killed by the thugs and judges are also human.

Nizamuddin Ali Ahmad Aug 23, 2013 09:40pm

Charity begins from home. Pakistan Government should De-Nationalize all the private schools taken over by Mr. Bhutto. The properties were taken over by force by the government without any compensation to the owners. The owners in their seventies, in need of money. Mr. Sharif should appreciate as a businessman and a victim of power abuse. Do it now.

gangadin Aug 23, 2013 10:26pm

Let's first address poverty, load shedding, floods and hunger among so many other problems. As for as HRW is concerned, go fuck yourself. Address human rights issues in the West.

Qadeer Ahmed Aug 24, 2013 01:46am

Non of the premier has so far taken any interest in the human right violation, In Balochistan the abduction and extra judicial killing of Baloch youth has been increased thrice and even the provincial govt is eligible to stay against the crime. The pro-establishment policies will eventually lead this country to a failed state.

waqar Aug 24, 2013 03:17am

Please come here and see the reality you talk of human rights the first and foremost is to LIVE and where we are living just let us live and rest we will achieve there is no day when we are attending a funeral prayer so please stop beating the drum on unimportant issues and start doing something at least come and visit these regions go to khuzdar and Turbat where these so called oppressed baloch leaders has gone missing and if you come alive from there than you may write another article

Abdul baloch Aug 24, 2013 08:10am

He is a great human right activist.

Jarrar Jaffari Aug 24, 2013 08:23pm


This practice of arresting and then releasing terrorists has been very common in Pakistan, just recently multiple Lasker-e-Jhangvi's three terrorists were released by the court these were the people who had openly killed many poor innocent Shias. It is truly sad and despicable to see our judiciary scared of these outfits.

Jarrar Jaffari Aug 24, 2013 08:28pm


Saeed make an effort to grow up, and quit finding issues in others. So you deny the plight of Shia community in Pakistan ? I have myself calculated the reported attacks in Pakistan on minorities in Newspapers and it was about 750 attacks on Shias, 25 attacks on Ahamedies, and 50 on other minorities combined. No doubt now Pakistani society in general is under threat of terrorism but this Shia-haterd has cross all bounds do your part to stop that.

Doubting others's intention just makes us look more intolerant.

JOHN SYED Aug 25, 2013 01:42am

Mr. Sharif is incapable of addressing the human rights issue as he appears friendly towards them. He could not execute two terrorists the date for whose execution was already announced. The fact of the matter is it was a poor decision to announce the date and venue of execution. It was notice to terrorists to break in and get their members released at the cost of killing of poor jail guards. The Government and Army could not be sincere in stopping the killing of shiites as they dispatch 2500 + enforcement personnel to help Bahraini Khalifa to terrorize and kill helpless Shiites' majority. People will take action like the one undertaken against Morsi in Egypt if he fails to implement execution of all the 6000 persons on death row for the last five years. Its ironical you are ready to compromise those who killed our army/police personnel and actively hunted down the Shiites but wanted to try Musharraf for murder of Akbar Bugti. He expects Musharraf should have taken a baton and run around the car of Benazir Bhutto to provide protection (No pun intended, I adore Benazir). Find the real culprit/s and don't play the games.

mazharuddin Aug 25, 2013 12:23pm

HRW Director Ali Dayan seem belongs to minority sect or is unaware to the facts the atrocities of minority such as having huge processions, congregations at public places in this 21st century while there is huge population explosion, roads and streets unable to accommodate such frequent religious activities at public places that disturb large number of citizens movement to engage in their activities for daily needs. All this was brought into discussion on international media too but HRW director intentionally overlooked, biased attitude. Moreover HRW should also discuss with minority to allow criticism and discussion on their belief while they insist to be relayed their belief and Aqeeda. HRW should condemn one sided flow on media in this respect.

Further HRW brought in discussion the killings of non Baloch but did not discuss the minority's militant wings that killed hundreds majority people on sectarian basis? HRW director is unaware to all this? This all show me to strike QAMA on my head and fall asleep. He should have complete information and honesty.

mazharuddin Aug 25, 2013 12:27pm

@Tahira: There is not only Lashkar e Jhangvi, minority too has militants wings. See large number majority groups were murdered in sectarian targeted killing against the minority sectarian killing in Quetta. There was arson, forced shutter down and Sit in to disturb citizens of Karachi.

AHA Aug 25, 2013 05:52pm

@Jarrar Jaffari: Absolutely agree with you comments. We will never be to improve ourselves due to our attitude of not admitting to our shortcomings. We as a group are an unaware lot. We 'believe' in believing and not in thinking.