Pakistan has assailed the US 2023 Country Report on Human Rights Practices as lacking objectivity and politicising the issue of human rights, the Foreign Office (FO) said on Thursday.

Issued on April 22, the report stated that there were no significant changes in the human rights situation in Pakistan over the past year. It alleges that the Pakistani government intimidates or seeks reprisal against individuals beyond its borders, including civil society activists, human rights defenders, and journalists, as does India.

The reports for both countries accuse both governments of committing significant human rights violations, including arbitrary and extrajudicial killings, torture, inhuman treatment, life-threatening prison conditions, as well as arbitrary arrests and political detentions. Addi­tionally, for Pakistan, it states, “a lack of accountability contributes to widespread impunity.”

Pakistan’s report highlighted last year’s allegations from activists accusing the government of carrying out politically motivated killings and kidnappings in other countries.

The report alleged that successive Pakistani governments tacitly approved enforced disappearances. Citing figures released in August by the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disapp­earances, it stated that out of the 9,967 missing-person cases reported to the commission since 2011, 7,714 were resolved, while 2,253 remained pending.

Regarding fair trials, the report noted military trials of civilians accused of rioting on May 9, which occurred following the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan.

Reacting to the report, the FO said: “Pakistan categorically rejects the recently released 2023 Country Report on human rights practices issued by the US State Department. The contents of the report are unfair, based on inaccurate information and are completely divorced from the ground reality.

“The US State Department’s annual exercises of preparing such unsolicited reports lack objectivity and remain inherently flawed in their methodology. These reports use a domestic social lens to judge human rights in other countries in a politically biased manner.”

It criticised that the 2023 report was “once again conspicuous by its lack of objectivity and politicisation of the international human rights agenda”, adding that it “clearly demonstrates double standards” and thus undermined the international human rights discourse.

The press release said that it was “deeply concerning” that a report purported to highlight human rights situations around the world “ignored or downplayed the most urgent hotspots of gross human rights violations” such as in Gaza and Indian-occupied Kashmir.

“Only a politically motivated report can ignore the alarming situation in Gaza, the weaponisation of humanitarian assistance and the massacre of over 33,000 civilians,” the FO said.

“Silence of the United States on the continuing genocide in Gaza runs counter to the stated objectives behind the so-called country reports on human rights,” it added

It must be mentioned that as per the US State Department, the United States issues the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices which cover “internationally recognised individual, civil, political and worker rights” on all countries receiving assistance and all United Nations member states to the US Congress.

Every year since 1977, the US State Department examines, tracks, and documents the state of human rights in nearly 200 countries and territories, including Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

The foreign office said that Pakistan remained steadfast in its commitment to strengthen its own human rights framework, constructively engage to promote the international human rights agenda and uphold “fairness and objectivity” in the human rights discourse.

It said that it expected the US to “at least exercise due diligence when conducting assessment of complex issues and demonstrate objectivity, impartiality and responsibility in finalising such reports.

“It should demonstrate the requisite moral courage to speak truth about all situations and play a constructive role in supporting international efforts for bringing an end to atrocities in the most urgent hotpots of gross human rights violations.”

India dismisses US human rights report as ‘deeply biased’

Similarly, New Delhi said it does not attach any value to a US State Department report critical of human rights in India and called it deeply biased.

The report found “significant” abuses in India’s northeastern Manipur state last year and attacks on minorities, journalists and dissenting voices in the rest of the country.

Asked about it, Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal told journalists today that the report “as per our understanding, is deeply biased and reflects a very poor understanding of India.

“We attach no value to it and urge you to also do the same,” Jaiswal said.

Responding to a question about the growing protests on US university campuses against Israel’s offensive in Gaza that has killed more than 33,000 people, Jaiswal said: “There has to be the right balance between freedom of expression, sense of responsibility and public safety and order”.

He added that “democracies in particular should display this understanding in regard to other fellow democracies, after all, we are all judged by what we do at home and not what we say abroad.”

While India and the US have a tight partnership, and Washington wants New Delhi to be a strategic counterweight to China, the relationship has encountered some minor bumps recently.

In March, New Delhi dismissed US concerns over the implementation of a contentious Indian citizenship law, calling them “misplaced” and “unwarranted”, and objected to a US State Department official’s remarks over the arrest of a key opposition leader.

Last year, Washington accused Indian agents of being involved in a failed assassination plot against a Sikh separatist leader in the US and warned New Delhi about it.

India has said it has launched an investigation into Washington’s accusations but there has not been any update about the investigation’s status or findings.

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