From Forcible Disappearances To Illegal Killings: A US Report Exposes the Startling Reality Of Pakistan’s Human Rights Violations

The “2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” shed light on the prevalent human rights abuses in Pakistan, painting a grim picture of the situation in the country. The report, mandated by US law, serves as a documentation of human rights and worker rights in nearly 200 countries and territories. Pakistan has been grappling with a large number of human rights issues, ranging from extrajudicial killings to enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions. The government’s lack of concrete actions to address these abuses has drawn criticism from the international community, including the US.

The report released by US outlined several critical concerns, including unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, and harsh prison conditions. It also pointed out political repression, restrictions on freedom of expression and media freedom, as well as limitations on internet and religious freedom.

“Promoting respect for human rights and defending fundamental freedoms is central to who we are as a country. The United States will always support those around the world struggling for human dignity and liberty,” the US State Department stated.

Members of religious, racial, and ethnic minorities, such as the Pashtun and Hazara communities, have been particularly vulnerable to violence and discrimination. The report also highlighted threats of violence driven by antisemitism, underscoring the challenges faced by marginalized groups in the country.

Some of the significant human rights issues in Pakistan included credible reports of, unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance; degrading treatment or punishment by the government or its agents; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary detention; political prisoners and transnational repression against individuals in another country.

However, “the government rarely took credible steps to identify and punish officials who may have committed human rights abuses,” the report stated.

The report also sheds light on the alarming trend of arbitrary and unlawful killings in Balochistan. Human rights organizations have accused government agents of implementing a ‘kill and dump’ policy, targeting dissidents through abduction, torture, and murder. The report specifically mentions security forces engaging in extrajudicial killings in various conflict zones across the country.

According to the independent think tank Center for Research and Security Studies, there were at least 386 reported deaths of police and military personnel in terrorist incidents and counterterror operations in the initial three quarters of 2023. This marked an increase in both the frequency of attacks and the number of casualties compared to the preceding years.

Alongside this grim reality, another pressing issue in Pakistan is the alarming rate of ‘Disappearances’. Human rights advocates have raised concerns over the arbitrary arrests and disappearances of Pashtun, Sindhi, and Baloch human rights activists, as well as nationalists from these regions, without legal justification.

Shockingly, reports suggest that even children have been detained to coerce their parents. Activists have highlighted that approximately 500 Sindhis are unaccounted for, with over 142 cases reported in 2022 alone. The Voice for Sindhi Missing Persons disclosed that 80 individuals from Sindh Province vanished between January and August, with many being associated with Sindhi nationalist groups, as per the findings.

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