World Report 2018 - Pakistan: Events of 2017

from Human Rights Watch
Published on 26 Jan 2018 View Original

Political turmoil and instability engulfed Pakistan after Nawaz Sharif stepped down as prime minister in July after a five-member Supreme Court bench disqualified him based on investigations into corruption allegations.

Although Pakistan witnessed fewer attacks by Islamist militants than in previous years, scores of people were killed in attacks primarily targeting law enforcement officials and religious minorities.

Security forces remained unaccountable for human rights violations and exercised disproportionate political influence over civilian authorities, especially in matters of national security and counterterrorism. In March, parliament passed a constitutional amendment reinstating secret military courts to try terrorism suspects for another two years. Security forces were implicated in enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings throughout the country.

The government muzzled dissenting voices in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and media on the pretext of national security. Militants and interest groups also threatened freedom of expression.

Women, religious minorities, and transgender people faced violent attacks, discrimination, and government persecution, with authorities failing to provide adequate protection or hold perpetrators accountable. The inclusion of the transgender population in the 2017 census and the first-ever proposed transgender law were positive developments.

The human rights crisis in Balochistan continued with reports of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings of suspected Baloch militants. Baloch nationalists and other militant groups continued attacking non-Baloch civilians.

Afghan refugees in Pakistan continued to face pressure from government authorities to return, although the number of repatriations decreased significantly from 2016.

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