• Sheet of paper Report

‘The Hands of Cruelty:’ Abuses by Armed Forces and Taliban in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas


Thousands of men and boys have been arbitrarily detained by security forces in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas, as the Pakistan Armed Forces has recaptured territory from the Taliban over the last three years. Many of those detained have been tortured and are never seen again. Aome are returned dead to their families, or their bodies are dumped in remote areas. Investigations into these incidents are rare.

The Taliban continues to commit abuses, killing scores of civilians accused of “spying”, launching suicide attacks in mosques, schools and other public places, and executing captured soldiers.

After a decade of insurgency, Pakistan’s Tribal Areas remain in a state of crisis. Bordering Afghanistan, they are one of the poorest, least developed parts of Pakistan. Added to this is the legal vacuum that prevails in the region. In the Tribal Areas, the courts are barred from upholding the fundamental rights protections guaranteed under Pakistan’s constitution. This has allowed state and non-state actors to commit violations and abuses with impunity.

Rather than investigating and prosecuting the perpetrators of these abuses, the authorities have given sweeping powers of arrest and detention to the armed forces, cementing the culture of impunity. Without urgent action by the Pakistan government to guarantee respect for human rights, millions will remain locked in perpetual lawlessness in the Tribal Areas.