Amnesty blasts Pak's human rights situation


Regular Member
Aug 7, 2009
LONDON: Millions of Pakistanis in the country's northwest tribal areas live in a 'human rights-free zone' where they have no legal protection from the government and are subjected to abuses by the Taliban, the Amnesty International has said.

In a report titled 'As if Hell Fell on Me: The Human Rights Crisis in Northwest Pakistan', the London-based rights organisation urged the Pakistan government and Taliban to comply with international humanitarian law.

"Nearly four million people are currently living under the Taliban in Pakistan in northwest Pakistan without rule of law and effectively abandoned by the Pakistani government," Amnesty International's interim Secretary General Claudio Cordone said.

"There are still more than one million people who were displaced from their homes in Pakistan's northwest tribal belt by the conflict with the Taliban (and) whose plight is largely ignored and who are in desperate need of aid."

According to Amnesty, at least 1,300 civilians were killed in the fighting in northwest Pakistan in 2009.

A teacher who fled Swat with family in March 2009 was quoted as saying: "The government just gave away our lives to the Taliban. What's the point of having this huge army if it can't even protect us against a group of brutal fanatics? They took over my school and started to teach children about how to fight in Afghanistan.

"They kicked out the girls from school, told the men to grow their beards, threatened anybody they didn't like. Our government and our military never tried to protect us from this."

Cordone said that for years, the tribal areas have been treated as a stage for geopolitical rivalries and are currently in focus because of the conflict in neighbouring Afghanistan and the search for al-Qaeda militants, rather than the rights of the people living there.

"The Pakistani government should not just respond using military force; it needs to provide and protect the basic rights of its citizens living there."

"The Pakistani government has to follow through on its promises to bring the region out of this human rights black hole and place the people of FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) under the protection of the law and constitution of Pakistan," Cordone said.

There is no quick-fix solution for decades of "misrule" and the conflict of the past few years, but the road to recovery starts with recognising the rights of the people of FATA, he said.

Amnesty said the US' use of drones to target insurgents in northwest Pakistan has generated considerable resentment inside the country.

It called on the US to clarify its chain of command and rules of engagement for the use of drones and ensure proper accountability for civilian casualties.

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