A recent study by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has offered a mixed report regarding the state of human rights in Pakistan. While some nominal improvements have been made, such as the enactment of new laws protecting women, the persecution of religious minorities remains a major issue. Christians, Hindus, and Sikhs continue to suffer widespread discrimination and in some instances attacks from religious extremists. Christian communities and their places of worship have come under increasing attack from the Pakistani Taliban in recent years and often remain unsecured by government authorities. Will 2017 offer more improvements to Pakistan’s religious minority communities or will religious intolerance and persecution continue to escalate?
05/11/2017 Pakistan (US News) – An independent watchdog on Wednesday offered a mixed report card in its annual look at the state of human rights in Pakistan, welcoming the enactment of new laws to protect women but decrying an uptick in religiously motivated vigilantism.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said the country was among the world’s most prolific enforcers of the death penalty, having executed 87 prisoners in 2016. Another 426 were sentenced to death last year. Four prisoners convicted of terrorism charges in military courts were hanged early Wednesday, the army said.
Pakistan has executed 432 prisoners since 2014, when it lifted a ban on executions following a Taliban attack on a school that killed some 150 people, mostly schoolchildren. But most of those executed were convicted criminals and not militants. Forty were convicted by military courts, which have been criticized by rights groups concerned about due process.
The report said fewer people died in terror attacks last year, but that Pakistan’s judges and lawyers were under increasing threat from targeted killings. It said minorities continued to suffer discrimination and attacks from religious extremists, with little state protection. It noted that Pakistan has one of the world’s lowest literacy rates.