WASHINGTON, Dec 27: Pakistan is not among the countries that grant political rights and civil liberties to their citizens, says a report released this week by a Washington-based human rights organization, the Freedom House.

Instead, the 2005 Freedom in the World Report, an annual comparative assessment of the state of political rights and civil liberties in 192 countries, lists Pakistan in the 'Not Free' category.

With data as fresh as of Nov 30, 2004, Pakistan has been placed in category 6 for political rights and 5 for civil liberties, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 as the best.

In 1994 and 1995, Pakistan was listed as a 'partly free' country with a rating of 3 for political rights and 5 for civil liberties. In 1996-97, the ratings fell to 4 and 5 and the worst was recorded in 1999 when for political rights Pakistan got a 7 ranking.

Of the 49 countries rated 'Not Free', 19 received the worst possible numerical rating (7) for political rights. The broadest restrictions on political activity take place in Belarus, Burma, Cuba, China, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Haiti, Iraq, Laos, Libya, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

Azad Kashmir also received the lowest political rights rating besides Chechnya (Russia), Tibet (China) and Western Sahara (Morocco). The Indian occupied Kashmir was placed among 'partly free' territories and given grade 5 both for political rights and civil liberties. Both parts of Kashmir, however, are listed among disputed territories.

The broadest violations of civil liberties - including freedom of speech, rule of law, and personal autonomy - take place in nine countries: Burma, Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Turkmenistan. Chechnya and Tibet, although listed as disputed territories, are also included in this category.

A total of eight countries - Burma, Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, and Turkmenistan - receive the lowest possible scores for both political rights and civil liberties, making them the most repressive regimes in the world. Chechnya and Tibet also fall into this category.

Pakistan has been named in the list which also includes Afghanistan, Angola, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Guinea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, the Maldives, Mauritania, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Tajikistan, Togo and Tunisia.

Pakistan has not even been included in the list of 117 'electoral democracies' in which besides India and Bangladesh, Mongolia, Nigeria, Belize, Benin and even Albania and Kiribati have been named.

Freedom House, founded over 60 years ago by Eleanor Roosevelt, describes itself as "a clear voice for democracy and freedom around the world" and works to promote democratic values across the world.

Last year, the Freedom House had severely criticized the Pakistan government for consolidating its hold on power through a dubious referendum that extended Gen Pervez Musharraf's term as president, as well as a series of constitutional amendments that cemented the future role of the military in governance.



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