Annual Report: Pakistan 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Pakistan 2013

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  • Journalist Mukarram Aatif was shot dead during evening prayers in a mosque in Charsadda city on
  • 17 January. He had earlier resettled there from his native Mohmand Tribal Agency following death threats over his reporting from the Pakistani Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the killing.
  • On 19 May, the bullet-riddled body of Express News television correspondent Razzaq Gul was found dumped on the outskirts of Turbat, Balochistan. He had been kidnapped the previous day. The authorities failed to bring the perpetrators to justice.
  • Senior broadcaster Hamid Mir escaped an assassination attempt in November when a bomb under his car failed to detonate. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attempt.

The government occasionally blocked websites, including YouTube and Facebook, without explanation or for content deemed offensive to religious sentiments. The courts threatened to bring criminal proceedings against journalists under contempt of court laws for reports criticizing the judiciary.

Discrimination – religious minorities

Ahmadis, Hindus and Christians remained at serious risk of violence and intimidation on the basis of their religious beliefs. There were at least 79 attacks on Shi'a Muslims – the most for any religious group in the country. Religious minorities were disproportionately represented in incidents where private individuals sought to invoke Pakistan's vaguely formulated blasphemy laws.

  • The northern region of Gilgit-Baltistan experienced unprecedented sectarian violence, with the authorities largely failing to bring the perpetrators of over 70 killings to justice following clashes between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims in April.
  • On 4 July, a mob lynched a homeless man held at a police station, then burned his body for allegedly burning a Qur'an in Channigoth town, Punjab province.
  • On 20 November, the Islamabad High Court acquitted Rimsha Masih, a Christian girl charged with blasphemy by police in August under public pressure for allegedly burning pages of the Qur'an. In September, the cleric who had accused her was in turn charged under the same laws for allegedly fabricating evidence against her. Her release was a rare instance of a speedy court acquittal in which the blasphemy charge against her was publicly criticized by the court.
  • The authorities allowed religious groups to prevent Ahmadis from entering places of worship. The graves of over 100 Ahmadis were vandalized in a Lahore cemetery on 3 December.
  • The state failed to protect the Shi'a Hazara community in Balochistan from armed group attacks despite a heavy military presence in the province, resulting in at least 84 deaths in the year.

Violence against women and girls

Women and girls and those campaigning for their rights continued to face discrimination and violence in the home and in public. Human rights groups documented thousands of cases of violence against women and girls across the country with a majority from the most populous province of Punjab. Cases included murders, rapes and incidents of domestic violence. This was likely only a fraction of all incidents given limited reporting of these abuses.