NEW YORK: Human rights are fast becoming a casualty in the drive to wipe out fanatical groups like the militant Islamic State group and Boko Haram, the head of Amnesty International warned as the watchdog released its annual report on the state of human rights around the world.

“What is unique to 2015 is that we are worried the very system that is protecting human rights around the world is itself under threat,” said Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty.

About Pakistan, the report said executions had resumed following the Pakistani Taliban-led attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar in December, 2014.

Adding to concerns over fair trials, newly established military courts were authorised to try all those accused of terrorism-related offences. A new National Human Rights Commission was set up with a mandate to promote and protect human rights, but was restricted from investigating allegations of human rights abuses against intelligence agencies. According to reports, religious minorities continued to face discrimination, persecution and targeted attacks. Human rights activists experienced harassment and abuse.

In March, Baloch activists were barred from leaving the country to speak at a conference in the USA about human rights violations in Balochistan and Sindh, it said.

A new policy for international NGOs was passed in October, giving the government the power to monitor their funds and operations and to close them down on the basis of activities considered to be against the interests of Pakistan. In November, the government restored a separate Ministry of Human Rights, which it had merged with the Ministry of Law and Justice in 2013.

Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2016

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