Pakistan's human rights watchdog paints grim picture

Other News Materials 14 April 2008 20:28 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Human rights violations in Pakistan are increasing and 2008 is unlikely to see any improvement, the country's rights watchdog said in its report for 2007 issued on Monday.

"The large-scale purge of the judiciary, a dangerous rise in militancy, the ravages of the emergency, Ms Bhutto's assassination and systematic assaults on the media dwarfed the routine human rights violations," the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Secretary General Iqbal Haider said at launch of the report.

This shows that the country's human rights agenda was unlikely to be eased in 2008 there was no alternative to constant vigilance, the report said.

HRCP, a non-governmental organization, said that 636 women died as traditional honour killings, 731 were both gang-raped and raped and the civil society groups focusing on girls' education and welfare remained under attack, especially in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).

The NWFP has in recent years seen a rise in Islamic militancy under the influence of Taliban ideology in Afghanistan.

The report also said infant mortality remained high and Pakistan had failed to meet the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), while prisons remained crowded with 67 per cent of detainees held in investigative custody.

Haider said President Prevez Musharraf was a usurper and his presidency was in direct violation of the constitution.

The HRCP official also expressed amazement at western support for the president, saying, Musharraf is releasing terrorists and has three agreements with Taliban and West kept saying: "Well done Musharraf."

The report also describes Pakistan as among the 10 worst countries for press freedom, as seven journalists were killed and 73 injured.

The security forces also arrested 250 reporters for covering anti- government protests and demonstrating against restrictions on media.

"Pakistan's standing in terms of press freedom over the last five years plummeted to 152, in rankings maintained by an international media watchdog," the report says.

Similarly, in terms of education the report ranks Pakistan 144th in the world for literacy as 70,000 schools were without basic facilities such as water, electricity, lavatories and boundary walls.

Health conditions in Pakistan were among the world's lowest, it noted.