Annual Report: Pakistan 2011

Report
May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Pakistan 2011

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Head of state: Asif Ali Zardari
Head of government: Yousuf Raza Gilani
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 184.8 million
Life expectancy: 67.2 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 85/94 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 53.7 per cent

 

Massive floods displaced millions of Pakistanis, leaving them in need of food, health care and shelter. Insurgent groups unlawfully killed people in Pakistan's conflict-ridden Northwest and Balochistan. They inflicted cruel punishments on the civilian population and launched deadly suicide attacks in the major cities, causing hundreds of civilian deaths and injuries. More than 2 million people were displaced by the conflict in north-west Pakistan. Torture, deaths in custody, "honour killings" and domestic violence persisted, despite new international commitments to safeguard rights. Members of the armed forces continued to arbitrarily arrest civilians, subjecting some to extrajudicial executions. New cases of enforced disappearance soared, particularly in Balochistan, where many victims were found dead. Old cases of enforced disappearance remained unresolved. Violence against religious minorities intensified with the government failing to prevent or punish the perpetrators. An informal moratorium on executions remained, but over 300 people were sentenced to death.

Background

Floods, which began in north-western Pakistan in July, killed almost 2,000 people and directly affected more than 20 million. This acute humanitarian crisis added to the existing misery of those already displaced by the conflict. The Pakistani army pushed Taleban forces out of the Swat Valley and South Waziristan in 2009, and out of the Bajaur and Orakzai agencies in 2010. Despite successes on the battlefield, military and civilian authorities failed to address the underlying causes of the conflict. They did nothing to improve the area's significant underdevelopment, failing to re-build basic infrastructure, including schools, and neglecting to restore businesses. Humanitarian relief for the displaced remained inadequate. Humanitarian organizations and independent monitors were barred from effectively operating in conflict areas.

US drone strikes targeting suspected al-Qa'ida and Taleban insurgents in Pakistan's border regions more than doubled to a reported 118 strikes in 2010, fuelling anti-American sentiment among the population.

On 24 March, Pakistan ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention against Torture, with sweeping reservations. No steps were taken to incorporate these international commitments into domestic law.

In April, the 18th constitutional amendment ended the President's power to dissolve Parliament, introduced citizens' right to freedom of information, enhanced provincial autonomy, and obliged provinces to provide free education to all children.

In October, Asma Jahangir, a prominent human rights advocate, was elected the first woman President of the Supreme Court Bar Association.

Violations by security forces

Hundreds of civilians were killed in army operations against insurgents in the Northwest. Dozens of suspected insurgents were killed by lashkars (tribal militias) sponsored by the army but lacking proper training or monitoring.

  • On 8 March, a lashkar set fire to 130 homes of suspected Taleban members in Bajaur agency.

Extrajudicial executions

Security forces reportedly killed suspected members of armed groups in the Northwest and Balochistan, mostly with impunity. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), an NGO, recorded 282 bodies of suspected insurgents found between the end of military operations in Swat Valley in July 2009 and May. Local people attributed these killings to the security forces. Several activists campaigning against enforced disappearance in Balochistan disappeared themselves and were killed.