Human Rights

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Violence Of Human Rights In Pakistan

Pakistan is a federal republic with a population of approximately 173 million. During the year, civilian democratic rule was restored in the country. President Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leader Benazir Bhutto, became head of state on September 6, replacing former President Pervez Musharraf, who resigned on August 18. International observers noted that parliamentary elections on February 18, while flawed, were competitive and reflected the will of the people. The election brought to power former opposition parties, led by the PPP, in a coalition government; the national parliament elected Yousuf Gilani as prime minister and head of government on March 24. The PPP and its coalition partners at year's end controlled the executive and legislative branches of the national government and three of the four provincial assemblies. Of the 13 Supreme Court justices whom then President and Chief of Army Staff Musharraf dismissed in November 2007, by year's end the new government had reinstated five under a fresh oath of office; three retired or resigned; and five remained off the bench, including former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. The newly elected government did not enforce media restrictions adopted during the 2007 state of emergency. It lifted curbs on unions imposed during Musharraf's tenure, so at year's end workers in some industries could organize legally. In an effort to quell the insurgency in Balochistan, the government withdrew politically motivated charges and exit control restrictions against some Baloch leaders. While the security forces generally accepted direction from the civilian authorities during the year, there were some instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently of civilian authority. The chief of army staff withdrew 3,000 active duty military officers from civil service positions assigned by former President Musharraf. Despite some improvements after the state of emergency at the end of the previous year, the human rights situation remained poor. Major problems included extrajudicial killings, torture, and disappearances. There were also instances in which local police acted independently of government authority. Collective punishment was a problem particularly in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which falls under the legal framework of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR). Lengthy trial delays and failures to discipline and prosecute those responsible for abuses consistently contributed to a culture of impunity. Poor prison conditions, arbitrary arrest, and lengthy pretrial detention remained problems, as did a lack of judicial independence. Corruption was widespread within the government and police forces, and the government made few attempts to combat the problem. Although implementation of the 2006 Women's Protection Act somewhat improved women's rights, rape, domestic violence, and abuse against women remained serious problems. Honor crimes and discriminatory legislation affected women and religious minorities respectively. Religious freedom violations and Human Right Practices in Pakistan 2 inter-sectarian religious conflict continued. Widespread trafficking in persons, child labor, and exploitation of indentured and bonded children were ongoing problems. Child abuse, commercial sexual exploitation of children, discrimination against persons with disabilities, and worker rights remained concerns. Military operations in the FATA and the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) killed approximately 1,150 civilians, and militant attacks in FATA and NWFP killed 825 more civilians. Sectarian violence in the country, most notably in Kurram Agency, killed approximately 1,125 individuals. More than 65 suicide bombings throughout the country killed an estimated 970 individuals. In Balochistan, the low-level insurgency killed approximately 125 civilians, according to media reports. Ongoing...
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