Head of government Yousuf Raza Gilani
Death penalty retentionist
Population 180.8 million
Life expectancy 66.2 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 85/94 per 1,000
Adult literacy 54.2 per cent
Millions of Pakistanis suffered abuses as a result of a sharp escalation in armed conflict between the government and armed groups. Pakistani Taleban and other anti-government groups targeted civilians throughout the country, while security forces used indiscriminate and disproportionate force and carried out suspected extrajudicial executions. In areas controlled by the Pakistani Taleban and allied armed groups, civilians faced severe abuses, including arbitrary arrest and detention; torture and other ill-treatment; a near total absence of due judicial process; stringent restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly; religious and ethnic discrimination; and violence and discrimination against women and girls. Violence against minorities increased, with the government failing to prevent attacks or punish perpetrators. There were no executions, although 276 people were sentenced to death.
Following nationwide protests led by Pakistani lawyers, Iftikhar Chaudhry was reinstated on 16 March as Chief Justice. He had been dismissed from his post in November 2007 by then President Pervez Musharraf. On 31 July, the Supreme Court ruled that President Musharraf had violated the Constitution when he declared emergency rule on 3 November 2007. In August, a criminal case was filed against him for illegally detaining judges of the higher judiciary in 2007. On 16 November, the Supreme Court resumed hearing cases of enforced disappearances that had been interrupted by the 2007 emergency.
Violence in Balochistan escalated in January after Baloch armed groups called off a ceasefire begun in mid-2008. Hostage-taking and unlawful killings by armed groups were countered by violations, including arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances, by state agents.
Pakistani Taleban and related insurgent groups consolidated their hold in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and expanded their reach into parts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), most notably the densely populated Swat valley. The army continued its operations against insurgents, focusing particularly on Swat in April, on Khyber Agency in FATA from September, and on South Waziristan from October. Insurgents killed hundreds of civilians and injured thousands more in attacks across the country, including attacks targeting mosques and schools.
On 13 April, the Pakistani Taleban in Swat forced President Zardari to sign the Nizam-e-Adl (Order of Justice) Regulation. The Regulation formally established courts implementing the Taleban's harsh interpretation of Islamic law in Malakand Division. The peace pact broke down when the Pakistani Taleban continued armed incursions into neighbouring Buner in mid-April. The Taleban's actions, and the resulting army operations that began on 26 April, displaced more than 2 million people, joining some half a million Pakistanis who had already fled their homes as a result of the conflict between the Pakistani Taleban and government security forces. The South Waziristan operation prompted over two thirds of the region's 450,000 population to flee.
Legal, constitutional or institutional developments
The pre-charge detention period for suspects held for interrogation under the Anti-Terrorism Act was extended from 30 to 90 days on 2 October.