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Pakistan: Human rights in 2012

By News Desk
April 10 2013




PUT together, the numbers are shocking: in the past year, over 2,000 people were killed and more than 3,000 injured in 1,577 militant attacks across the country. In Karachi, more than 2,000 died in ethnic, sectarian and politically linked violence. Over 900 females were killed in the name of ‘honour’, and more than 100 members of the Shia Hazara community massacred in Balochistan. Even as the courts pursued the issue of ‘missing persons’ alleged to be in the illegal custody of various branches of the security forces, the bodies of at least 72 such people were found in Balochistan. Meanwhile, Pakistan is ranked at 151 out of 179 on the Press Freedom Index — at least 14 journalists were killed over the last year while the murder of Saleem Shahzad remained unsolved. Pakistan also continued to be among those countries where the highest number of people are dying of preventable diseases such as tuberculosis, polio and malaria. Whichever aspect is examined, the picture is utterly dismal.

These unpalatable facts were revealed on Thursday in the report on the State of Human Rights in 2012 put together by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. According to HRCP chairperson Asma Jahangir, the gravest issue is the killing of minorities — from Quetta to Gilgit-Baltistan and Karachi. Such has been the crisis of governance that, as HRCP secretary general I.A. Rehman pointed out, people are rapidly losing confidence and trust in the country’s institutions, including the courts. Things could not bode worse, perhaps, as the elections draw near. But there is a lesson to be learned and the country’s political parties ignore it at their own peril: while the handover of government from one elected assembly to another is especially laudable in Pakistan’s context, what the people desire is the firm hand of governance to steer the ship of state on the right course. The mantra of democracy will not go far if the country remains wracked by violence and poor policymaking that results in state institutions being in a shambles.

Originally published by Dawn Pakistan

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