Annual Report: Pakistan 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Pakistan 2010

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On 19 August, the Ministry of Human Rights informed Parliament that of the 11,000 human rights cases registered by it countrywide over the past three years - most of them in Sindh Province - more than 8,000 had not been investigated by the police or had been dismissed.

On 4 August, the National Assembly passed the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill. It lapsed after the Senate failed to pass it and the government did not set up a mediation committee to resolve differences.

President Zardari announced a reform package for FATA in August. It included lifting the ban on political party activities and limited reform of the colonial-era Frontier Crimes Regulation, which deprives FATA residents of most rights afforded under international law and the Pakistani Constitution. Implementation of these reforms remained pending.

On 24 November, Prime Minister Gilani presented comprehensive proposals to reduce the military presence in Balochistan, release Baloch political detainees except those involved in "terrorism", release "disappeared" people and initiate economic uplift programmes. Twenty disappeared people were reportedly released in late November and in December; 89 criminal cases registered against political activists were withdrawn. On 10 December, the Prime Minister reportedly stated that of 992 Baloch victims of enforced disappearance, 262 had already been released and the rest would be released soon.

Insurgency in FATA, NWFP and Balochistan

Insurgents abducted and unlawfully killed thousands of people, including tribal elders, teachers, journalists, other professionals, and internally displaced people returning to their homes. In 87 suicide attacks, 1,299 people were killed and 3,633 injured, many of them civilians. In the past two years, the Taleban destroyed over 200 schools in Swat, including more than 100 girls' schools. According to local officials, these attacks disrupted the education of more than 50,000 pupils from primary to college level.

Taleban groups set up informal Islamic "courts" in areas under their control and "tried" and punished scores of people, particularly women, accused of breaching their harsh interpretation of Islamic law. Punishments included public floggings and executions.

The Pakistani military at times used indiscriminate or excessive force in attacks on suspected Taleban hideouts, leading to high numbers of civilian casualties. Security forces detained family members of suspected insurgents, including children, to force them to surrender.

State-supported but unregulated tribal lashkars (militias), formed by elders in NWFP and designated tribal areas to counter the Taleban and protect tribal villages, detained and in some cases killed Taleban suspects.

Journalists reporting the insurgency in the Northwest and Balochistan were targeted by the government as well as by armed groups, resulting in under-reporting of abuses. At least 10 journalists lost their lives in the course of their work.

  • Afghan journalist Janullah Hashimzada was killed on 24 August in Jamrud, Khyber Agency; his colleagues believed that the Taleban were responsible. That same month, the Quetta-based newspaper Asaap closed after security and intelligence personnel were sent to their office to censor their work.
  • On 7 July, insurgents in Buner set fire to the house of Behroz Khan, a journalist with Geo TV.

Internally displaced people

In addition to some 500,000 people displaced earlier from FATA as a result of the conflict, more than 2 million people fled the fighting in Swat which began in April (see Afghanistan entry). The government failed to ensure the rights of the displaced - over half of them children - to security, health, food, shelter and education. In October, the security forces harassed Mehsud tribespeople fleeing the fighting in South Waziristan and detained scores of Mehsuds under the collective responsibility clause of the Frontier Crimes Regulation.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Dozens of detainees were tortured to death or killed, and other extrajudicial executions were reported amid widespread impunity for such violations.