The U.S. State Department recently released it’s annual report on the human rights situation around the world, including Pakistan. One of the chapters of the report covering human rights in 2021 points to serious human rights violations committed in Pakistan. Foreign Minister Antony Blinkin was also present at the release of the report.
Blinkin said that he was part of the release ceremony for the second time because human rights are of great importance to American foreign policy. He said that many parts of the world have consistently seen a decline in democracy, the rule of the constitution and respect for human rights for many years. According to him, when a report on the human rights situation was being released last year, the process of degradation of rights was underway.
In this regard, the Foreign Minister pointed towards Russia’s ongoing aggression and said that clear evidence was being received in which Russia was committing brutality within Ukraine. The Secretary said that the State Department’s annual report describes the internal human rights situation of about 200 countries and this has been reported through investigation. According to him, the United States applies to itself the same standards of human rights reverence as it wants to see in the rest of the world. He further said that there are human rights concerns and shortcomings within the United States as well.
The State Department’s annual human rights report for the year 2021 also contains a 72-page chapter on Pakistan covering human rights violations. The report said that within Pakistan, military, paramilitary and intelligence agencies that are in principle accountable to civilian institutions, do their job without supervision of civilians and they have committed a number of violations according to local and international organizations. According to the report, there are major human rights issues within Pakistan. It says that measures such as extrajudicial killings, torture, rigorous detention, retaliatory arrests, and politically motivated detention of citizens by the government and its agents are among the measures taken. State agencies have been found committing incidents such as kidnapping, murder and torture of their citizens within other countries, the report said. The US State Department report claims that illegal military armed groups within Pakistan, including the Taliban were supported. Children were made fighters and freedom of speech and media were put on hold. Violence was committed against journalists. They were held in undue custody or disappeared. Criminal laws of censorship and defamation were enacted.
According to the report, internet freedom in Pakistan was also undermined by blocking several websites in 2021. Peoples’ right to gather was violated and many religious freedoms were also “compromised”. According to the annual human rights report, religious and ethnic minorities were tortured within Pakistan. The report also showed that Pakistan’s political parties have been expressing concern over the Pakistan Army’s interference in these elections. There was no immediate response from Pakistan to the report and this report comes at a time when Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has been ousted as a result of last week’s no-confidence vote and a new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has been selected. There has been no immediate response from Pakistan Army’s spokesperson DG ISPR to the report.