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Human rights violations in Pakistan - 1992.

The USA State Department's 1992 Human Rights Report on Pakistan says "there was little change in the human rights situation in 1992, and serious problems remained in several areas. The press and political organizations continued to exercise considerable, but no unfettered, freedom of expression. The overt repression of political opponents, a particular problem in Sindh, lessened but nonetheless remained an issue of concern. Selective prosecution of opposition political leaders continued to be a serious problem. There were no significant efforts to reform either the political or judicial systems, and responsible authorities did little to prosecute and punish those responsible for abuses".

Commenting on the human rights violations in Pakistan, the report said that "responsibility for internal security rests primarily with the police, although paramilitary forces, such as the Rangers and Frontier Constabulary, are charged with maintaining law and order in frontier areas. Police forces are under provincial control, as are paramilitary forces when assisting in law and order operations. Both forces were responsible for human rights abuses in 1992. The army and paramilitary forces, under the nominal control of the Sindh provincial government (but under the effective control of the army and Central government), were called upon in May to help restore law and order in Sindh province. This law and order operation also sparked charges of human rights violations by the Army units involved and of selective targeting of certain political elements in Sindh. According to the USA Arm Control and Disarmament Agency, total military expenditure for 1989 were $2,488 million. While the Government recognizes but too much of its gross national products is devoted to military spending, there is no indication that efforts will be made to reduce these expenditures in the near future".

The report alleged that heightened sectarian clashes between the Sunni and Shi'a communities resulted in numerous murders. Non-Muslim minorities continued to be the subject of unofficial persecution by religious zealots, it added.

It further said that the government did little, despite complaints, to curb these activities and continued its support for religious legislation designed to Islamise Pakistan.

According to the report, social and legal constraints kept women in a subordinate position in society and significant restraints remained on worker's rights. The use of child and bonded labour remained widespread in spite of legislation to prohibit these practices, the report pointed out.

Commenting on political and extrajudicial killings said, these had happened often in the form of staged "political encounters", shootouts resulting in the death of suspects continued in 1992. There were also scores of credible reports from the media and human rights monitors concerning prisoners alleged to have been killed in shootouts who probably died as a result of police torture, the report added.

It pointed out that "Law enforcement personnel were rarely charged or tried for these killings, which human rights groups say numbered in the hundreds".

Referring to the different incidents of deaths, the report said many questions remain regarding the deaths in May of seven men alleged by the authorities to have been terrorists of the Al-Zulfigar Organization (AZO). The seven were reportedly killed in an exchange of fire with a naval patrol boat at sea, near Shah Bandar, the report added.

It further said that in course of the army clean-up operation in Sindh at least nine villagers of Tando Bhawal were killed in a massacre in June 5, 1992. Sever death reportedly occurred in army custody during the operation in Sindh, it added.

The report alleged that two Christians accused of blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) were murdered before a legal judgement could be rendered their cases.

According to the report ethnic and sectarian tensions were also a cause of politically motivated killings, as rival ethnic/political parties and organizations and their student wings frequently clashed. The report pointed out that the leaders of both Shi'a and Sunni organizations were assassinated throughout Pakistan, and sectarian clashes left dozens dead. The authorities made little progress in preventing this type of violence or punishing those responsible, in part due to the random and often spontaneous nature of these incidents, the influential connections of many of the perpetrators, and the political risks associated with proceedings against the radical elements in either community, the report asserted.
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Publication:Economic Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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