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ISLAMABAD: A 2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices by the US State Department presented a grim picture of alleged human rights abuses in Pakistan, ranging from what is called ‘arbitrary killings, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government, arbitrary detention, political prisoners, to the use of derogatory terms such as “Jewish agent” to attack individuals and groups or referred to “Zionist conspiracies.”’

The State Department released the annual “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” later on Tuesday in Washington, pointing out that there were no significant changes in the human rights situation in Pakistan during the year.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office has yet not commented on the report to give an official stance of the government of Pakistan on the contents of the report.

US report on human rights finds many problems in Pakistan

The report noted the alleged trans-national repression against individuals in another country, arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, punishment of family members for alleged offences by a relative, serious abuses in a conflict, including reportedly unlawful civilian deaths and 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, etc.

It also pointed out the alleged overly restrictive laws on the operation of nongovernmental organisations and civil society organisations, restrictions of religious freedom, restrictions on freedom of movement, coerced or forced return of individuals to a country where they would likely face torture or persecution, serious government corruption, serious government restrictions on domestic and international human rights organisations.

It further referred to the alleged extensive gender-based violence, including domestic or intimate partner violence, sexual violence, crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting members of religious, racial and ethnic minorities including members of the Pashtun and Hazara communities.

Furthermore, the report also highlighted the alleged threats of violence motivated by anti-Semitism, enforcement of laws criminalising consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults, crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or inter-sex persons; and significant or systematic restrictions on workers’ freedom of association.

The report also referred to numerous reports claiming that the “government or its agents” allegedly committed arbitrary or unlawful killings, including extrajudicial killings, during the year.

It further stated that the government entities generally investigated whether security force killings were justifiable and whether to pursue prosecutions via an order either from the inspector general of police or through the National Commission for Human Rights.

“Physical abuse of criminal suspects in custody allegedly caused the injury or death of individuals. Lengthy trial delays at the start and conclusion of trials and failure to effectively investigate, discipline, and prosecute those responsible for killings contributed to a culture of impunity,” the report further maintained.

It also noted that there was a significant increase in attacks against police and security forces. According to the independent think tank Centre for Research and Security Studies, there were at least 386 reported deaths of police and military personnel in terrorist attacks and counter-terror operations during the first three quarters of the year. The number of attacks and casualties were higher than in 2022 or 2021.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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