Pakistani security forces under effective civilian control, US report says

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Civilian authorities in Pakistan maintained effective control over security forces in the last few years as orderly transitions in top political and military leadership helped solidify the democratic process in the country, said a country report published by the United States’ (US) State Department.

The study released on last Friday criticised the violations of basic human rights in Pakistan over the past year, attributing widespread rights violations to terrorist violence and abuse by non-state actors within the country. The authors of the study concluded that a lack of government accountability, in which abusers often go unpunished, is responsible for a culture of impunity among perpetrators.

PRAISE FOR ANTI-TERROR OPERATIONS:

At some points, the reports’ findings praised Pakistan for the sustained and significant operations against militant groups inside the country over the past twelve months which have contributed to a reduction in violence, as fatalities from terror-related incidents reduced from 1,803 in 2016 to 1,084. Legislative efforts and amnesty offers which aim to integrate rebellious or marginalised groups back within the national fold, particularly in Balochistan, were appreciated in the report.

Quoting the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), the study observed a decrease in terror-related fatalities while comparing 2017 and 2016 as of the end of October, terrorism fatalities stood at 1,084 in 2017 as compared to 1,803 fatalities in 2016.

TERRORIST VIOLENCE, HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES:

The report says, “Terrorist violence and human rights abuses by nonstate actors contributed to human rights problems in the country. The military sustained significant campaigns against militant and terrorist groups. Nevertheless, violence, abuse, and social and religious intolerance by militant organizations and other nonstate actors, both local and foreign, contributed to a culture of lawlessness in some parts of the country, particularly in the provinces of Balochistan, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).”

The summary of the report mentioned extra-judicial and targetted killings as the most serious incidents related to abuses within Pakistan in 2017. In addition to these problems, corruption within the government and police, lack of criminal investigations or accountability for cases related to rape, ethnic and religious violence, and labour rights remained areas of considerable concern for the international community.

LACK OF GOVT ACCOUNTABILITY:

It was highlighted that there was a lack of government’s accountability. “There was a lack of government accountability, and abuses often went unpunished, fostering a culture of impunity among the perpetrators, whether official or unofficial. Authorities seldom punished government officials for human rights abuses,” the report reads.