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Pakistan govt unable or unwilling to stop terrorist attacks: rights group

Publication Date : 22-01-2014


The militant groups, including the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and some other banned outfits, are operating with “virtual impunity” in Pakistan as the country’s civilian and military institutions are either “unable” or “unwilling” to prevent terrorist attacks, says a report by an international human rights organisation.

“The militant groups such as the ostensibly banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a Taliban affiliate, operate with virtual impunity across Pakistan as law enforcement officials either turn a blind eye or appear helpless to prevent attacks,” says the Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its World Report 2014 released on Tuesday.

Speaking to Dawn, HRW’s Pakistan country director Ali Dayan Hasan said that in the 667-page report, its 24th annual review of human rights practices around the world, the HRW had summarised major issues in more than 90 countries. He said that the HRW headquarters in New York has also released a report about each country to their respective capitals.

“Taliban attacks, amounting to war crimes, have increased in scope and magnitude even as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government has renewed his offer for peace talks in the aftermath of atrocities,” said Hasan.

The HRW report came at a time when militants stepped up their attacks across Pakistan. According to media reports, the country saw 25 major attacks in the first 20 days of 2014.

According to the HRW report, at least 130 people were killed and 500 injured by the Taliban who had declared elections "un-Islamic" and had warned voters to stay away from rallies organised by coalition parties.

Numerous government organisations and law enforcement personnel have been targetted by the Taliban. At least 22 polio vaccination workers were killed and 14 wounded in 2012 and 2013, in attacks for which the Taliban claimed responsibity, the report showed. 

It adds, “a climate of fear impedes media coverage of militant groups and the Taliban and other armed groups regularly threaten media outlets over their coverage”, and that “security forces routinely violate basic rights” in the course of counter-terrorism operations with suspects frequently detained without charge or convicted without a fair trial. “Thousands of suspected members of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other armed groups — who were rounded up in a crackdown in 2009 in Swat valley and tribal areas — remained in illegal military detention at time of writing; few had been prosecuted or produced before the courts”.

The HRW report includes the security situation in the troubled Balochistan province, drawing attention to the “enforced disappearances and killings of suspected Baloch militants and opposition activists...violence against women and girls — including rape, honour killings, acid attacks, domestic violence and forced marriage", which it says remains a serious problem in Pakistan

Judicial action

According to the HRW report, Pakistan's judiciary remains an "independent but controversial actor". Despite the adoption of a National Judicial Policy in 2009, access to justice remains poor, as case backlogs mount throughout the country.

“The courts are rife with corruption. Judges often use suo motu proceedings to help people gain access to justice. In other cases, the judiciary has used such proceedings to interfere with legislative or executive powers, part of a longstanding power struggle between former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, the government, and the army.” reads the report.


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