HRW asks Pakistan to stop appeasing Taliban
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan should immediately cease its policy of appeasing the Taliban and instead hold them accountable for killing Pakistanis.
“Taliban attacks, amounting to war crimes, have increased in scope and magnitude even as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government has renewed offers of peace talks in the aftermath of atrocities,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director Human Rights Watch (HRW). “The fact is that those who kill in cold blood should be held accountable not appeased and there can be no peace without accountability.”
Also, Pakistan’s security forces have been reminded once again to cease violating basic right ‘in the course of counter-terrorism operations.’“Security forces routinely violate basic rights in the course of counterterrorism operations, with suspects frequently detained without charge or convicted without a fair trial.
Thousands of suspected members of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other armed groups — who were rounded up in a nationwide crackdown in 2009 in the Swat Valley and the Tribal areas — remained in illegal military detention at time of writing; few had been prosecuted or produced before the courts.
In July, Attorney General Munir Malik admitted that more than 500 “disappeared” persons were in security agency custody”, notes the Human Rights Watch while releasing its World Report 2014.
In the 667-page world report, its 24th annual review of human rights practices around the world, Human Rights Watch summarizes major issues in more than 90 countries.
“Unless Pakistan develops a rights-respecting counter-terrorism strategy, it will only continue to provide oxygen to the Taliban and space for their abuses,” said Hasan. “Killings, disappearances, illegal detentions, torture and mistreatment are not just heinous crimes, but are also ineffective and counter-productive in combating the Taliban.”
The report notes that Shia Muslims and non-Muslim religious minorities suffered murderous attacks unprecedented in scope and scale. In 2013, well over 400 members of the Shia Muslim population were killed in targeted attacks that took place across Pakistan. In Balochistan province, at least 200 Shias, mostly from the Hazara community, were killed in and around the provincial capital, Quetta.
In January, a suicide bomb killed 96 Hazaras and injured at least 150.In February, at least 84 were killed and over 160 injured when a bomb exploded in a vegetable market in Quetta’s Hazara town. The LeJ claimed responsibility for both attacks. In March, at least 47 Shias were killed and 135 injured in the port city of Karachi when a Shia-majority neighbourhood was targeted in a bomb attack. In September, the Christian community experienced the deadliest attack on its members in Pakistan’s history when 81 were killed in a bombing on a church in Peshawar. Numerous government installations and law enforcement personnel have also been targeted by the Taliban. At least 22 polio vaccination workers were killed, and 14 wounded in 2012 and 2013 in attacks for which the Taliban claimed responsibility. A climate of fear impedes media coverage of militant groups and the Taliban and other armed groups regularly threaten media outlets over their coverage.
Enforced disappearances and killings of suspected Baloch militants and opposition activists by the military, intelligence agencies, and the paramilitary Frontier Corps continued in Balochistan province, said the HRW. Baloch nationalists and other militant groups also stepped up attacks on non-Baloch civilians. “Peace will remain elusive in Balochistan until disappearances and killings end and that power simply does not rest with the provincial government,” said Hasan. “If he is serious about peace in Balochistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif must use his authority to order an end to abuses by security agencies in the province as a first step.”
Violence against women and girls — including rape, “honor” killings, acid attacks, domestic violence, and forced marriage — remains a serious problem in Pakistan, the HRW said. Abuses are rife under Pakistan’s blasphemy law and despite the adoption of a National Judicial Policy in 2009, access to justice remains poor, as case backlogs mount throughout the country and local courts remain riddled with corruption.