Washington [US], April 13 (ANI): Pakistan's human rights situation has further deteriorated as a recent report unveiled by the US revealed that over 8000 people were missing in the country during 2021 including 1,200 missing in Sindh province in the last six months.
A US government report said that several officials from intelligence agencies, police, and other security forces reportedly held prisoners incommunicado and refused to disclose their location.
Pakistan's Missing Persons Commission reported that it had opened 8,100 missing-person cases during the year and had solved 5,853 of these cases as of July.
As per the report, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa human rights defender Idris Khattak was held incommunicado by law enforcement from November 2019 until June 2020. Khattak, whose work monitored human rights violations in the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), disappeared after his car was stopped by security agents in the province.
Human rights organizations reported some authorities disappeared or arrested Pashtun, Sindhi, and Baloch human rights activists, as well as Sindhi and Baloch nationalists without cause or warrant.
Some children were also detained to pressure their parents. Activists claimed 500 Sindhis were missing, with more than 50 disappearing in 2021 alone. On August 26, the Sindh High Court ordered law enforcement agencies to recover all missing persons in Sindh by September 11. A lawyer representing the Sindh Rangers informed the court that of 1,200 missing persons, 900 had already been recovered in the province. Of these, Sindh police located 298 in the last six months.
Apart from it, Pakistan's law provides for an independent judiciary, but according to NGOs and legal experts, the judiciary often was subject to external influences, such as fear of reprisal from extremist elements in terrorism or blasphemy cases and public politicization of high-profile cases.
Civil society organizations reported judges were reluctant to exonerate individuals accused of blasphemy, fearing vigilante violence. Media and the public generally considered the high courts and the Supreme Court more credible, but the media discussed allegations of pressure from security agencies on judges of these courts, according to the report.
The report also highlighted that the Pakistan government provided support to the Taliban, the group that recruited and used child soldiers. The government operated a center in Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to rehabilitate, educate, and reintegrate former child soldiers.
The freedom of expression, including for members of the press are also violated in the last year, as per the report, adding that threats, harassment, abductions, violence, and killings led journalists and editors to practise self-censorship are additional to it.
In terms of internet freedom, the report noted that Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) is responsible for the establishment, operation, and maintenance of telecommunications and has complete control of all content broadcast over telecommunication channels.
The government uses a systematic, nationwide, content-monitoring and filtering system to restrict or block "unlawful" content, including material it deems un-Islamic, pornographic, or critical of the state or military forces.
The restrictive 2016 Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act gives the government sweeping powers to censor content on the internet, which authorities used as a tool for the continued clampdown on civil society.
The government blocked websites because of allegedly anti-Islamic, pornographic, blasphemous, or extremist content. The PTA's Web Analysis Division is ultimately responsible for reviewing and reporting blasphemous or offensive content for removal, while the FIA is responsible for possible criminal prosecution. (ANI)