Concern grows as disappearances persist
HUMAN RIGHTS PANEL SAYS NATION HAS FAILED TO MAKE PROGRESS ON SEVERAL ISSUES
Freedom of expression and freedom of association is under attack, except for those who carry the religious banner.”
I.A. Rehman | Spokesman, HRC of Pakistan
An independent Pakistani watchdog criticised the country’s human rights record over the past year in a new report released yesterday, saying the nation has failed to make progress on a myriad of issues, ranging from forced disappearances, to women’s rights and protection of religious minorities.
The damning report card issued by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says people continue to disappear in Pakistan, sometimes because they criticise the country’s powerful military or because they advocate better relations with neighbouring India.
The controversial blasphemy law continues to be misused, especially against dissidents, with cases in which mere accusations that someone committed blasphemy lead to deadly mob violence, it said.
Terrorism deaths decline
While deaths directly linked to acts of terrorism declined in 2017, the report says attacks against the country’s minorities were on the rise.
The 296-page report was dedicated to one of the commission’s founders, Asma Jahangir, whose death in February generated worldwide outpouring of grief and accolades for the 66-year-old activist who was fierce in her commitment to human rights.
“We have lost a human rights giant,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said following Jahangir’s death. “She was a tireless advocate for inalienable rights of all people and for equality — whether in her capacity as a Pakistani lawyer in the domestic justice system, as a global civil society activist, or as a Special Rapporteur ... Asma will not be forgotten.”
Yesterday’s report also took aim at religious bigotry in Pakistan and the government’s refusal to push back against religious zealots, fearing a backlash.
“Freedom of expression and freedom of association is under attack, except for those who carry the religious banner,” commission spokesman I.A. Rehman said at the release of the report, which accused Pakistani authorities of ignoring “intolerance and extremism.”