|The State Department web site below is a permanent electronic archive of information released prior to January 20, 2001. Please see www.state.gov for material released since President George W. Bush took office on that date. This site is not updated so external links may no longer function. Contact us with any questions about finding information. |
NOTE: External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.
Title: Pakistan Human Rights Practices, 1995 Author: U.S. Department of State Date: March 1996 PAKISTAN Pakistan is an Islamic republic in which power is shared between the Prime Minister, as the leader of the National Assembly, and the President. The Chief of Army Staff also wields considerable influence on many major policy decisions and is the third member of the unofficial "troika" which governs the nation. During 1995 Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto dominated political policy making, with President Farooq Leghari playing a complementary role. Chief of Army Staff General Abdul Waheed consulted closely with the Government but avoided active involvement in governing. Responsibility for internal security rests primarily with the police, although paramilitary forces, such as the Rangers and Frontier Constabulary, are responsible for maintaining law and order in Karachi and frontier areas. Provincial governments control the police and paramilitary forces when they are assisting in law and order operations. Members of security forces committed numerous abuses in 1995. Pakistan is a poor country, with great extremes in the distribution of wealth and social stratification. Its per capita income is $450 annually, and its rate of illiteracy is extremely high and is increasing among women. Its economy includes both state-run and private industries and financial institutions. The Constitution provides for the right to private property and the right of private businesses to operate freely in most sectors of the economy. The Government continues to pursue economic reforms, emphasizing the privatization of government-owned financial institutions, industrial units, and utilities. Cotton, textiles and apparel, rice, and leather products are the principal exports. Although the Government has publicly pledged to address human rights concerns, particularly those involving women, child labor, and minority religions, the overall human rights situation remains difficult. Government forces, as well as private groups including the Mohajir Quami Movement (MQM), were responsible for a large number of killings in Karachi. Security forces used arbitrary arrest and detention, and tortured or abused prisoners and detainees. The police, investigative and intelligence agencies, and politically motivated court cases were used to harass and arrest political opponents of the Government. The judiciary remains subject to influence through constitutionally permitted transfers of judges and appointment of temporary judges to the High and Supreme Courts. There was no serious government effort to reform the police or judicial systems or to prosecute those responsible for abuse. Police continued to conduct illegal searches, and case backlogs led to long delays in trials. Religious zealots continued to discriminate against and persecute religious minorities, basing their activities in part on legislation which discriminates against non-muslims. The Government made procedural changes which made the registration of blasphemy charges more difficult. Nevertheless, new blasphemy charges were brought against 10 members of the Ahmadi religious group in 4 separate incidents. Religious and ethnic-based rivalries resulted in numerous murders, mosque bombings, and civil disturbances. Traditional social and legal constraints kept women in a subordinate position in society. They continued to be subjected to abuse, rape, and other forms of degradation by agents of the State, their spouses, and members of society at large. The Government and employers continued to restrict worker rights significantly. The use of child and bonded labor remained widespread, in spite of legislation to restrict these practices and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on child labor with the International Labor Organization (ILO). Little was done to improve basic conditions for children. Female children actually fell further behind their male counterparts in such measures as levels of health care and education. RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from: a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing The number of extrajudicial killings, often in the form of deaths in police custody or staged encounters in which the police or paramilitary forces shoot and kill the suspects, increased in 1995. Most such killings occurred in Sindh province in clashes between the Government and factions of the MQM. In trying to restore order in Karachi, the Government regularly used excessive force, including torture and alleged encounter killings, against MQM activists. The rate of politically motivated murders in Karachi reached an average of 10 per day in July; by year's end, over 1,800 people had been killed. According to the Karachi police, 500 police officers had been suspended for misbehavior as of September. None were known to have been prosecuted for abuses. On January 13, Karachi Airport police shot and killed two activists of the MQM, Haqiqi faction (MQM/H). MQM Altaf Hussain Group (MQM/A) activist Aslam Sabzwari died in police custody on July 7, 16 hours after his arrest, according to press reports and the MQM/A. On August 2, police killed MQM/A activist Farooq Dada, who independent observers note faced numerous and credible charges of murder and extortion, and three companions in an alleged encounter near Karachi Airport. On December 9, the torture-marked bodies of Nasir and Arif Hussain, reputed relatives of MQM/A leader Altaf Hussain, were found in a Karachi suburb. The MQM/A claims security forces had arrested them prior to their murders. Many observers believe the Government to have been responsible for their murders in retaliation for the murder of the brother of the Sindh Chief Minister (see below). Police sources have confirmed unofficially that the police do not believe that the courts punish repeat criminals, and that encounter killings of criminals are a conscious strategy to deal with recidivists. According to an investigation by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), an independent, non-governmental body, Karachi police killed six kidnapers in a staged encounter on January 13. According to the investigation, no encounter took place. The police resorted to heavy firing after the six were killed to make it appear that an encounter had taken place. On April 17, Karachi police shot and killed Nadeem Riaz, known as "Nadeem Commando," a well-known criminal. Police surrounded the house in the East Malir area of Karachi where he was hiding and claimed that he was killed during a shootout while trying to escape. Both main MQM factions, the MQM/A and the Haqiqi faction, resorted to extrajudicial killings and torture of their opponents and targeted police and security officials. Although the MQM/A consistently claims that its activists are innocent, unarmed victims of ethnic violence, disinterested observers believe that cells of armed MQM/A activists are responsible for a considerable amount of Karachi's violence and crime. This includes extortion of large sums of money from Mohajir businessmen as well as others. In an apparent attempt to inflame public opinion and destabilize the situation in Karachi, MQM/A leader Altaf Hussain used the alleged gang rape of an MQM/A supporter while in custody to call for three "days of mourning" in Karachi June 24-26. At least 67 people died in strike-related violence during the protest. Medical reports on the alleged victim, however, did not substantiate the charges of gang rape. The MQM/A enforced numerous other strike calls with violence, resulting in the deaths of law enforcement personnel and civilian bystanders. Fifteen Punjabi labors were brutally murdered in Karachi November 2 by unknown gunmen. On November 23, gunmen carrying AK-47's murdered Syed Ahsan Ali Shah, younger brother of Sindh Chief Minister Abdallah Shah, near his home in an MQM/A dominated area of Karachi. Many observers believe the MQM/A to be responsible for this murder. The Government blamed the Haqiqi faction for a number of attacks on Karachi police stations, including a November 13 rocket-propelled grenade attack on a police complex in which 10 grenades struck the complex, injuring family members of police officers. Ethnic and sectarian tensions continued in 1995 and resulted in a large number of deaths. Members of Shi'a and Sunni Muslim organizations targeting rival groups set off bombs or made armed attacks on crowded mosques in Karachi. Sunni gunmen killed 20 worshipers at two Shi'a mosques on February 25 and 26. Reprisal attacks killed at least 10 Sunnis. In March nine people were killed in sectarian clashes in Punjab. Such violence tapered off by mid-year, partly due to the efforts of the Punjab provincial government, working with sectarian groups, to reduce tensions. By the end the year, however, apparent sectarian deaths were again on the rise. According to police sources and the Citizen Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), on the morning of March 10, two activists of the militant Sunni organization Sipah-I-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) were gunned down in the Landhi area of Karachi. That afternoon, a powerful bomb explosion outside a Shi'a mosque in Malir district killed 12 persons, including 8 children. On March 12, assailants entered a building in Karachi, gathered seven men from three Shi'a families, and shot them. The assailants, who are thought to be members of the SSP or hired killers, were later arrested and are being tried for those murders. According to Christian activists and the CPLC, Javed Masih, a Christian, died of torture during interrogation on August 4. Following a demonstration and public negotiations with the police, the three youths arrested along with Javed were released. The Government has filed charges against three police officers implicated in this incident, but the officers have gone into hiding and had not been arrested by year's end. b. Disappearance MQM/A Member of the Provincial Assembly (MPA) Qamar Mansoor and activist Raees Fatima boarded a train from Karachi to Lahore on June 4. The couple did not arrive in Lahore and their families accused government law enforcement agencies of arresting them and approached the courts to learn their whereabouts. According to the Lahore High Court, Mansoor was arrested and is being held in jail in Rawalpindi. For several months the Government denied having taken Raees Fatima into custody, but in December permitted an MQM/A senator to visit Ms. Fatima in Rawalpindi's Adiala jail. Ms. Fatima claimed she had been in Government custody since June 4. c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment There continued to be credible evidence that police tortured and otherwise mistreated detainees. According to the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights of Pakistan (LCHRP), law enforcement officials tortured to death more than 50 persons. On May 29, the press carried photos of four MQM/A activists who were brought to the Special Court for the Suppression of Terrorist Activities blindfolded and visibly suffering from wounds. According to the press reports, one of the four had a drilled left buttock, another had a fractured right leg, a third had an injured left leg and hips, and the fourth had torture marks all over his body. The police claimed to have arrested them after an encounter on May 27, while the counsel for the accused claimed that they were arrested at their homes on May 6. The presiding officer of the court ordered the jail authorities to conduct a medical checkup on all four and send a report to him. The chief of the MQM/A'S Legal Aid Committee alleged that despite the judge's orders, the police took the four to an unidentified police station. Several low-ranking police officials were later suspended for bringing the accused blindfolded into the court. Police and prison officials routinely use force to elicit confessions and compel detainees to incriminate others; the practice has become standard procedure. Common torture methods included: beating, burning with cigarettes, whipping the soles of the feet, sexual assault, prolonged isolation, electric shock, denial of food or sleep, hanging upside down, forced spreading of the legs, and public humiliation. Some magistrates and doctors helped cover up the abuse by issuing investigation and medical reports that the victims died of natural causes. The President promulgated an ordinance in April that permits confessions or statements against third persons obtained during police interrogations in parts of the country declared to be "terrorist affected areas" to be used in court. Human rights monitors view this ordinance as an endorsement of police torture to obtain evidence, while the Government argues that the law is currently not applied, because no part of the country has been declared a terrorist affected area. Police frequently use the threat of abuse to extort money from prisoners and their families. In some cases, the authorities have detained whole families to force a relative who was the subject of an arrest warrant to surrender (see Section 1.d.). Despite regulations that prohibit the police from detaining women overnight, some women continue to be arbitrarily detained and sexually abused. There are few policewomen to perform matron duties, despite regulations requiring that policewomen be present in station houses during the questioning or detention of females. The overall failure of successive governments to prosecute and punish the abusers, however, was the single largest obstacle to ending or even reducing the incidence of abuse. The authorities sometimes transferred, arrested, or suspended offending officers, but seldom prosecuted or punished them. Investigating officers generally shielded their colleagues. Persons attempting to bring charges against police officers were often threatened by other officers and dropped the charges. However, the Government took action in some sexual abuse cases. For example, according to Christian activists, Razia Masih, a Christian woman from near Hyderabad, Sindh, was arrested by police on August 21 on suspicion of theft, although police searched her home and found no incriminating evidence. Masih alleges that she was repeatedly raped by police officials including a police inspector. After public intervention by Christian Sindh MPA's, Masih was released on September 9 and the police inspector accused of rape was arrested. The Government opened additional women's police stations staffed by female personnel in Faisalabad, Punjab, and Abbottabad and Saidu Sharif, Northwest Frontier province (NWFP). The first women's police station in Rawalpindi was opened in 1994. The cases registered at the women's police stations involve wife beatings and burnings, kidnaping, rape, theft, and domestic disputes. In June an army court sentenced two soldiers to life in prison, 30 lashes, and expelled them from the army for molesting a female minor in Karachi. The incidence of rape, torture, and abuse was not restricted to the security forces. There were reports that different factions of the MQM tortured and killed members of rival groups. For example, according to the HRCP, there were at least seven cases where Haqiqi activists raped female activists of the rival MQM/A in Karachi. The Hadood Ordinances, promulgated by the central Government in 1979, were an attempt to make the Penal Code more Islamic. These ordinances provide harsh punishments for violating Islamic law, or Shari'a, including death by stoning for unlawful sexual relations and amputation for some other crimes. In practice, the standards of evidence for imposing these punishments are exceptionally high, and to date they have not been carried out. Nonetheless, these laws have been applied to Muslims and non-Muslims alike and weigh most heavily on women. A woman who reports that she has been raped may find herself charged with adultery under the Hadood Ordinances. According to a police official, in up to 80 percent of rape cases, the victims are pressured to drop rape charges because of the threat of Hadood adultery charges being brought against them. All consensual extramarital sexual relations are considered violations of the Hadood Ordinances. However, according to a lawyer from the HRCP, the Government has brought fewer charges against women under the Hadood Ordinances than in the past, and the courts have shown greater leniency toward women in their sentences and in the granting of bail. Another troubling aspect of the Hadood Ordinances is the possibility that a person could be tried twice for the same crime, once under criminal statutes and once under the Hadood Ordinances. In August two Irish nationals were sentenced to five lashes each for hashish smuggling under the Haddod Ordinances. The sentence was carried out, making it the first lashing of foreigners under the Hadood Ordinances in Pakistan. There are three classes of prison facilities: Class "C" cells generally hold common criminals and those in pretrial detention. Such cells often have dirt floors, no furnishings, and poor food. The use of handcuffs and fetters is common. Prisoners in these cells reportedly suffer the most abuse, such as beatings and being forced to kneel for long periods. Conditions in "B" and "A" cells are markedly better. The authorities reserve the latter for prominent persons. Especially prominent individuals, including some political figures, are sometimes held under house arrest and permitted to receive visitors. There were reports that wealthy landlords or political parties operated private jails. Many such jails are believed to exist in tribal and feudal areas. Some of the prisoners have reportedly been held in them for many years. In August, the Government cracked down on supporters of the Tanzeem-I-Ittehad- I-Ulema-I-Qabail (TIUQ) Movement, a tribal organization accused of functioning as a parallel government in the Khyber Agency by conducting trials, levying fines, imposing punishments such as public floggings, and operating a private jail. The Government demolished the TIUQ'S headquarters and the houses of several key TIUQ agitators. The Government released eight TIUQ leaders arrested on weapons charges on the condition that the TIUQ quasi-governmental administration be dissolved. In late November, a team from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan raided two such private jails in Sanghar, Sindh Province. The HRCP found five chained workers in a sugar cane field of a wealthy landlord and another group of people working in similar conditions in fields owned by a Sindh police official. The HRCP action encouraged the Sanghar police to raid another private jail, freeing 46 prisoners who were working as bonded laborers. According to press reports, although the overseers of the plantations were arrested, the landlords themselves avoided capture by the authorities. d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile The law permits a Deputy Commissioner (DC) of a local district to order detention without charge for 30 days of persons suspected of threatening public order and safety. The DC may renew detention in 30-day periods, for a total of 90 days. For other criminal offenses, the police may hold a suspect for 24 hours without charge. If the police can provide material proof that detention is necessary for an investigation, a court may extend detention for a total of 15 days. In practice, the authorities do not strictly observe the limits on detention. The police are not required to notify anyone when an arrest is made and often hold detainees without charge until they are challenged by a court. The police sometimes detain individuals arbitrarily without charge, or on false charges, in order to extort payment for their release. Some women continue to be arbitrarily detained and sexually abused (see Section 1.a.). The law stipulates that detainees must be brought to trial within 30 days of their arrest. However, in many cases trials do not start until about 6 months after the filing of charges. The authorities generally permit family members and lawyers to visit inmates. However, in some cases the authorities refuse such visits. In the case of politicians and party workers charged with various offenses, the authorities incarcerated some of them away from their home districts thereby discouraging visits by family members, supporters, and attorneys. MQM/A Senator Zahid Akhtar was arrested at Karachi Airport on May 31 and charged with terrorist activities. He was immediately taken to Islamabad, but was held in custody in Peshawar for trial in the Suppression of Terrorist Activity Court in Peshawar. The MQM/A claims that the Government has moved several of its detained Sindh MPA'S to locations outside Karachi and Sindh. The Government uses mass arrests to quell civil unrest. During attempts to reduce crime and violence in Karachi, the MQM/A claimed that police and Rangers arrested 7,000 Mohajirs in numerous police sweeps. Many of those arrested were not suspected of committing a specific crime, and were allegedly held until family members paid police officers a ransom for their release. According to the LCHRP, by mid-August the Government had made over 12,000 arrests on suspicion of terrorist activities countrywide, with 9,200 of those arrests in Karachi alone. The LCHRP said 830 MQM/A activists and 189 activists of other parties remained in custody in Sindh, and 92 activists of political parties and sectarian groups remained incarcerated in Punjab. The Government selectively used criminal charges and arrest to harass political opponents. The Government continued to detain one senator from the Pakistan Muslim League, Nawaz Sharif Group (PML/N), who was arrested in 1994. Three PML/N members of the National Assembly (MNA) arrested in 1994 were released on bail in 1995. The opposition alleged credibly that the Government put political pressure on the judiciary to deny or delay bail to the arrested politicians. Three MQM/A senators and 11 MQM/A members of the Sindh Provincial Assembly (MPA's) arrested in 1994 on criminal charges continued to be denied bail and remained in custody. In December the courts released on bail one MQM/A Senator. The authorities established detention facilities near the Sindh Provincial Assembly building to allow jailed MQM/A MPA's to attend sessions, and brought the detained MQM/A Senators to Islamabad to attend Senate sessions. Pakistani courts routinely granted bail to others accused of similar offenses. Federal Investigative Agency agents arrested 70-year-old Karachi businessman Riaz Shaffi in January for alleged business irregularities in connection with his reacquisition of his previously nationalized business. His detention, along with that of other Karachi businessmen, was believed to have been politically motivated. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have a separate legal system, the Frontier Crimes Regulation, which recognizes the doctrine of "collective responsibility." Under this regulation, the authorities are empowered to detain the fellow members of a fugitive's tribe, or to blockade the fugitive's village, pending his surrender or punishment by his own tribe in accordance with the local tradition. The Government exercised such authority in 1995. For example, on August 12, Frontier Troops bulldozed the headquarters of the TIUQ in Khyber Agency following violent TIUQ protests against the arrests of some its leaders. The Movement for Enforcement of Islamic Law (TNSM) in the NWFP's Malakand Division continued its activities in 1995, although with diminished strength. The Government responded forcefully to protests by the Movement's followers, stationing more troops in the region, arresting hundreds of activists, and bulldozing houses and shops of the Movement's supporters. After urging his supporters not to pay taxes as part of a civil disobedience campaign until Shari'a was enforced, the Movement's leader and many others were arrested in June. Despite the leader's call for nonviolent protests, 11 persons died during clashes between the TNSM and Frontier Corps troops. The Government does not use forced exile. e. Denial of Fair Public Trial The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary. In reality, however, the judiciary is not independent. Through the President's power to transfer high court justices and appoint temporary and ad hoc justices, the executive branch is able to influence the Supreme Court, the provincial high courts, and the lower levels of the judicial system. It has become standard practice to appoint judges to the high courts and Supreme Court on temporary basis for a period of 1 year and later confirm or terminate their appointments after an evaluation of their performance. Legal experts say that temporary judges, eager to be confirmed following their probationary period, tend to favor the Government's case in their deliberations. Judges in the Special Terrorism Courts are retired jurists who are hired on renewable contracts. The desire to maintain their positions has the potential to influence their decisions. Despite the Government's promise to strengthen judicial independence, it took several measures to influence the court for political reasons. The Supreme Court heard the bail application and denied bail to an opposition Member of the National Assembly (MNA) in a case where bail would routinely have been granted by a lower court. Mian Qurban Sadiq Ikram, special judge for the Court of Banking Offenses, was removed from the bench on July 31, a day after he granted interim bail to the father of opposition leader Nawaz Sharif. The Government brought additional criminal cases against the leader of the opposition, Nawaz Sharif, members of his family, and his family businesses. The Punjab provincial government in June brought treason charges against Sharif and 17 others for their alleged attempt to unseat the province's Chief Minister in 1993. The Government dropped the treason charges in September following numerous public and editorial statements against them, but other charges against the groups remain pending. At year's end, these cases were still pending in the court system. The accused remained free to conduct opposition political activities. The judicial system involves several different court systems with overlapping and sometimes competing jurisdictions. There are civil and criminal systems with special courts for high-profile cases, as well as the Federal Shari'a appeals courts for certain Hadood offenses. The appeals process in the civil system is: civil court, district court, high court, and the Supreme Court. In the criminal system, the progression is: magistrate, sessions court, high court, and Supreme Court. The civil judicial system provides for an open trial, cross-examination, representation by an attorney, and appeal of sentences. Attorneys are appointed for indigents only in capital cases. There are no jury trials. Owing to the limited number of judges, the heavy backlog of cases, and lengthy court procedures, cases routinely drag on for years, although defendants are required to make frequent court appearances. In both the Hadood and standard criminal codes, there are bailable and nonbailable offenses. According to the Criminal Procedures Code, the accused in bailable offenses must be granted bail, and the accused in nonbailable offenses should be granted bail if accused of a crime that carries a sentence of less than 10 years. Bail is set, often purposely, at unreasonably high levels for indigent defendants. The Federal Shari'a Court and the Shari'a Bench of the Supreme Court serve as appeals courts for certain convictions in criminal court under the Hadood Ordinances. The Federal Shari'a Court also may overturn legislation judged to be inconsistent with the tenets of Islam. However, these cases may be appealed to the Shari'a Bench of the Supreme Court. The judicial process continued to be impeded by bureaucratic infighting, inactivity, and the overlapping jurisdictions of the different court systems. Scores of positions in the lower magistracy remained unfilled. Persons in jail awaiting trial are sometimes held for periods longer than the sentence they would receive if convicted. The Government may refer cases involving terrorism--bombings, sabotage, highway robberies, banditry, kidnapping, or similar offenses--to special terrorism courts established by the Suppression of Terrorist Activities Act of 1975. Many legal experts believe the special courts do not provide for a fair trial. They maintain that the short time for investigations and trials detract from the accused's right to prepare an adequate defense. Some observers maintain that trial procedures have effectively repudiated the presumption of innocence. They also cite the encroachment by federal authorities on the provincial governments' constitutional authority to administer justice and the inherent unfairness of parallel courts to which cases may be assigned arbitrarily. Moreover, the special courts may deny bail if the judges decide that the accused may have reasonably committed an offense. Government officials and some attorneys maintain that despite the deficiencies, the special courts are necessary because of the judicial backlog. They also maintain that the rules of evidence apply in the courts, defendants have the right to counsel, and the judges must meet the same standards as those appointed to a high court. Defendants also have the right to appeal, but only one appeal is allowed. One opposition Assembly member, Shaikh Rashid Ahmad, was convicted in a terrorism court in February of possession of an unregistered assault rifle. At year's end he remained in custody pending legal appeals. A 1990 Shari'a court decision resulted in the introduction of the Islamic concepts of Qisas--roughly an "eye for an eye"--and Diyat-- "blood money"--into the Penal Code. The Qisas and Diyat Ordinance allows compensation to be paid to a victim's family in lieu of the accused receiving punishment. As a result, wealthy or influential persons sometimes escape punishment for such crimes as murder and assault. The right to seek pardon or commutation is not available to defendants under the Ordinance. The Hadood and Qisas and Diyat ordinances apply to both ordinary criminal courts and Shari'a courts. According to Christian activists, if a Muslim murders a Christian, he can compensate for the crime by paying the victim's family Diyat; however, if a Christian murders a Muslim, he does not have the option of paying Diyat and must serve a jail sentence or face the death penalty for his crime. Appeals of certain Hadood convictions involving penalties in excess of 2 years' imprisonment are referred exclusively to the Shari'a courts. Cases referred to the Federal Shari'a court are heard jointly by Islamic scholars and High Court judges using ordinary criminal procedures. Cases referred to the Shari'a bench of the Supreme Court are heard jointly by Islamic scholars and Supreme Court judges using ordinary criminal procedures. Judges and attorneys must be Muslim and be familiar with Islamic law. Within these limits, defendants in the Shari'a court are entitled to the lawyer of their choice. There is a system of bail. Under the Hadood Ordinances, evidence is given different weight depending on the religion and sex of the witness. A non-Muslim may not be a witness against a Muslim but may offer testimony against another non-Muslim. Testimony of females is not admissible for the harsher punishments (lashing, amputation, and stoning). In cases involving financial matters, the testimony of two women is required for it to be admitted as evidence. The evidentiary laws that apply to lesser punishments are roughly based on English common law. There continued to be charges that magistrates and police, under pressure to achieve high conviction rates, persuade detainees to plead guilty without informing them of the consequences. Politically powerful persons also attempt to influence magistrates' decisions and have used various forms of pressure on the magistrates, including the threat to transfer them to other assignments. Magistrates also perform a wide variety of administrative functions for the provincial governments, reducing the time devoted to judicial duties. Administration of justice in the FATA is normally the responsibility of tribal elders and maliks, or leaders. They may conduct hearings according to Islamic law and tribal custom. In such proceedings, the accused have no right to legal representation, bail, or appeal. The usual penalties consist of fines, even for murder. However, the Government's political agents, who are federal civil servants assigned to local governments, oversee such proceedings and may impose prison terms of up to 14 years. In remote areas outside the jurisdiction of federal political, agents, tribal councils occasionally levy harsher, unsanctioned punishments, including flogging or death by shooting or stoning. Paramilitary forces under the direction of the political agents frequently perform punitive actions during enforcement operations. For example, in raids on criminal activities, the authorities have been known to damage surrounding homes as extrajudicial punishment of residents for having tolerated nearby criminal activity. There are fewer than 10 known political prisoners. Several are serving sentences under the laws concerning the Ahmadi religious sect. Three persons are appealing death sentences for blasphemy (see Section 2.c.). f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence By law the police must obtain a warrant to search a house but do not need a warrant to search a person. However, the police often enter homes without a warrant, and frequently steal valuables during searches. In the absence of a warrant, a policeman is subject to charges of criminal trespass. However, policemen are seldom punished for illegal entry. The Government maintains several domestic intelligence services which monitor politicians, political activists, suspected terrorists, and suspected foreign intelligence agents. Credible reports indicate that the authorities commonly resort to wiretapping and occasionally intercept and open mail. On July 1, the Government suspended cellular phone, card pay phone, and pager services in Karachi and Hyderabad. The Government accused the MQM/A and criminals of using these services to commit crimes in Sindh. Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: a. Freedom of Speech and Press The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press, and citizens are generally free to discuss public issues. There were increased efforts by the Government and private groups to restrict press freedoms, but those efforts had little practical effect on press reporting. The Constitution stipulates the death penalty for anyone who damages the Constitution by any act, including the publication of statements against the spirit of the Constitution. The Constitution prohibits the ridicule of Islam, the armed forces, or the judiciary. Moreover, the Penal Code mandates the death sentence for anyone convicted of blaspheming the Prophet Mohammed (see Section 2.c.). Journalists censor themselves on such subjects. Some journalists claim that the competitive nature of Pakistani politics helps to ensure press freedom since the media serve as a forum for political parties to compete with one another. A Print, Press, and Publications Ordinance requires the registration of printing presses and newspapers and allows the Government to confiscate newspapers or magazines deemed objectionable. Foreign books must pass government censors before being reprinted, although the importation of books is freely allowed. Government censors occasionally ban publications, usually for objectionable religious content, but for other reasons as well. On June 29, the Sindh provincial government suspended the publication of six Urdu newspapers for 60 days, accusing them of publishing sensational news items prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. Following meetings between the Sindh Chief Minister and journalist unions, the bans were lifted a week after being imposed. A government-owned press trust controls two newspapers, an English- language and an Urdu daily. The Ministry of Information controls one of the two main wire services; the other is privately owned. The numerous privately owned newspapers have a circulation that far exceeds that of the government-owned newspapers. The government newspapers and wire services are circumspect in their coverage of the news and generally follow the government line. Privately owned newspapers freely discuss public policy and criticize the Government. They report remarks made by opposition politicians and their editorials reflect a wide spectrum of views. The Government attempts to influence editorial policy at privately-owned newspapers by its power to allocate duty free newsprint and its placement of government advertising, an important source of newspaper revenue. There are allegations that the Government increases the newsprint quota for perceived progovernment papers. The Ministry of Information stopped placing advertising in the proopposition Urdu Daily Khabrain, claiming that it had engaged in irresponsible journalism. There continued to be widespread and credible reports of journalists taking bribes from the Government or opposition parties in return for favorable coverage. During the year, various political parties and police specifically targeted, arrested, and harassed newspapers and reporters. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) member Syed Masroor Ahsan sued Dawn columnist Ardeshir Cowasgee for a November 25, 1994 column criticizing the judiciary. The editor and publisher of Dawn also faced charges of contempt over the story. The Supreme Court adjourned the hearing in early June; the case was still pending at year's end. In March the office of the Observer, an Islamabad-based daily, was attacked. In May a Karachi-based reporter, known for his stories criticizing the Government, was attacked at his home in Karachi, where unidentified assailants beat his son and younger brother. In June a journalist associated with the Urdu daily Khabrain was severely beaten by the police in Multan. Khabrain alleged that he was punished by the police for his association with a proopposition newspaper and demanded that the Government take action against the police official allegedly involved. An HRCP official said that the journalist had engaged in blackmail. Also in June, rockets were fired on the offices of Nawa-e-Waqt and the Nation in Karachi. The Nawa-e-Waqt office had been bombed previously, in late February. On June 7, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested without charge Zafaryab Ahmad, a free-lance Lahore-based journalist associated with the Bonded Labor Liberation Front (BLLF). Ahmad was later charged with sedition and accused of working with Indian intelligence to damage Pakistan's carpet industry exports through false reporting. After 6 weeks of detention, the Lahore High Court released him on interim bail. At year's end, the sedition case was pending in the courts. On August 17, Karachi police officers asked monthly magazine Newsline editor, Razia Bhatti, to send to the police station a reporter who had written an "unfavorable" story about the Sindh governor. During the next 16 hours, police visited the Newsline office and Bhatti's apartment, looking for both Bhatti and the journalist. On August 24, a group from the radical Sunni Siph-e-Sahaba (SSP) attacked and ransacked the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) office in Islamabad and physically beat the BBC correspondent and a member of his staff. They were protesting a BBC documentary on the SSP'S sectarian activities in Pakistan. SSP Chief Maulana Zia-ur-Rehman Farooqi publicly claimed responsibility for the incident, saying that it was intended as a peaceful protest, not a sacking of the office. The Prime Minister publicly deplored the attack and Punjab police arrested Farooqi, but later released him. The Government owns and operates most radio stations. Private radio stations that do not report news operate in the Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore markets. The Government also operates all but one semiprivate television station. It strictly controls their news broadcasts. However, the semi-private Shalimar Television Network (STN) provides programs including Cable News Network (CNN) and BBC programs, with considerable independence from government oversight. The Government censors segments of CNN and BBC programs considered socially offensive. The Ministry of Information monitors the advertisements on STN, editing or removing those deemed objectionable. Satellite dishes are readily available on the local market, and many Pakistanis use them to watch uncensored foreign broadcasts. Access to the Internet became available in Pakistan in 1995, and the Government is studying whether-- and how--to control the medium. Conservative religious and political groups have been active in promoting their own code of social morality. The Shari'a Law has bolstered such efforts by placing greater pressure on individuals to conform to Islamic sensibilities. Jamaat-I-Islami's student wing, Islami Jamait-I-Tulaba (IJT) threatened citizens planning to hold musical or dance parties, especially New Year's Eve parties. Literary and creative works remain generally free of censorship. Obscene literature, a category broadly defined by the Government, is subject to seizure. Dramas and documentaries on previously taboo subjects, including corruption, social privilege, narcotics, violence against women, and female inequality, are frequently broadcast on television. However, a religious extremist student group disrupted a musical performance in Multan because the students objected to the style of the female singer, who regularly encourages her audience to dance. The Government and universities generally respect academic freedom. However, the atmosphere of violence and intolerance fostered by student organizations, typically tied to political parties, is a threat to academic freedom. On some campuses, well-armed groups of students of varying political persuasions clash with and intimidate other students, instructors, and administrators on matters of language, syllabus, examination policies, doctrine, and dress. In June a group of male Punjab University students were beaten by IJT activists after ignoring an IJT warning not to go on a recreational trip with female classmates. Human rights groups remain concerned about the implementation of a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that prohibits student political organizations on campuses. While they acknowledge that the ruling led to a reduction of campus violence, they question the legality of school officials expelling students for membership in a political organization. b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association The Constitution provides for freedom of association subject to restrictions by government ordinance and law. There are no banned groups or parties. The Government generally permits peaceful assembly. District magistrates occasionally exercised their power under the Criminal Procedures Code to ban meetings of more than four people when demonstrations seemed likely to result in violence. This provision was invoked frequently in June during the Islamic month of Muharram, when tensions between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims traditionally peak. However, Shi'a were granted licenses to conduct processions on specified routes. Shi'a groups, however, protested that they should not be required to obtain licenses for holding Muharram processions. Many observers attributed the relatively peaceful month of Muharram to these measures. The Government usually did not interfere with large political rallies. However, on several occasions opposition demonstrators blocking the Main Mall road in Lahore were arrested by the police. All were later released. Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and other opposition politicians traveled unhindered across the country throughout the year, holding large rallies critical of the Government. However, the authorities sometimes prevented leaders of politico-religious parties from traveling to certain areas if they believed their presence would increase sectarian tensions. Police issued arrest warrants for three prominent Christian leaders following a peaceful September protest rally in Islamabad against the country's system of separate electorates for minorities (see Section 2.c.). c. Freedom of Religion Pakistan is an Islamic republic in which 97 percent of the people are Muslim. The Constitution requires that laws be consistent with Islam. The Government permits Muslims to convert to other faiths but prohibits proselytizing among Muslims. According to the Government's Human Rights Cell, "Islamiyyat" (Islamic Studies) is compulsory for all Muslim students in state-run schools. Students of other faiths are not required to study Islam, but are not provided with parallel studies in their own religion. In practice, however, many non-Muslim students are compelled by teachers to complete the Islamiyyat studies. Minority religious groups fear that the Shari'a Law and its goal of "Islamizing" government and society may further restrict the freedom to practice their religion. Discriminatory religious legislation has encouraged an atmosphere of religious intolerance which has led to acts of violence directed at Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus, and Zikris. A 1974 constitutional amendment declared Ahmadis to be a non-Muslim minority because they do not accept Mohammed as the last prophet of Islam. However, Ahmadis regard themselves as Muslims and observe many Islamic practices. In 1984 the Government inserted Section 298(c) into the Penal Code which prohibited an Ahmadi from calling himself a Muslim and banned Ahmadis from using Islamic terminology. The punishment is up to 3 years' imprisonment and a fine. Since 1984, the Government has used this provision to harass Ahmadis. The 1993 Supreme Court ruling upholding Section 298(c) emboldened anti- Ahmadi groups and resulted in more court cases against Ahmadis. In 1995 cases under Section 298(c) were filed against at least 20 Ahmadis. These cases were still pending in the courts at year's end. In late February, an Ahmadi was arrested and charged under 298(c) for preaching his faith because he was listening to a religious cassette in his own shop. He was released from prison on bail in late March, but his case remains pending in the courts. Also in late March, six Ahmadis were charged under 298(c) for publishing invitation cards with Islamic epithets. In April a crowd attacked three Ahmadis visiting a village north of Peshawar, killing one and injuring a second. The Ahmadis had travelled to the village to post bail for a recent convert who was in protective custody after being arrested for offenses against Islam. A local mullah (religious leader) had issued a fatwa accusing the convert of apostasy and condemning him to death for renouncing Islam. The convert had been arrested in April under sections 107 and 151 of the Criminal Procedures Code to prevent the breach of peace, even though he had sought police protection because of threats to his life. The convert was later charged under sections 295(a) and 298(c) of the Penal Code. In late July, the charges under 295(a) and 298(c) were lifted and the convert subsequently released. A murder case was registered against all known members of the mob as no specific individual was identified as the culprit. Ahmadis are not allowed to be buried in Muslim graveyards. In 1995, the bodies of 15 Ahmadis buried in Muslim graveyards were allegedly exhumed. A group of mullahs, supported by the local Assistant Commissioner of Liaqatpur, in October ordered that the body of an Ahmadi woman be removed from the common cemetery in the town. The body was exhumed and reburied in land owned by the Ahmadis. Eleven Ahmadi mosques remained sealed, and four Ahmadi mosques are occupied by other Muslim sects. The Government classifies Ahmadis as "non-Muslims" on their passports. This has led the authorities in Saudi Arabia to prevent Ahmadis from making the Muslim religious pilgrimage to Mecca. Christians are also subject to harassment by the authorities, notably including the blasphemy laws and difficulty in obtaining permission to build churches. In 1986 the Government inserted Section 295(c) into the Penal Code which stipulates the death penalty for blaspheming the Prophet Mohammed. This provision has been used by litigants against Ahmadis, Christians, and even Muslims. According to the HRCP, the Government made unofficial changes to the procedures for filing formal blasphemy charges. Magistrates are now required to investigate allegations of blasphemy to see whether they are credible before filing formal charges. Despite administrative changes in filing blasphemy charges, new charges were brought against 10 Ahmadis in 1995 in four separate incidents. Five Ahmadis in Khairpur district, Sindh, were charged under both blasphemy and anti-Ahmadi laws for displaying banners carrying verses of the Koran during a rally of Ahmadi youth. Another Ahmadi in Hafizbad, Punjab was charged with blasphemy in October for preaching his faith. In March two other Ahmadis were implicated under blasphemy and anti- Ahmadi laws in Sanghar, Sindh, for translating the Quran into Sindhi. At year's end, all of these individuals were free on bail and awaiting or undergoing trial. In November blasphemy charges were brought against two Ahmadis in Larkana, Sindh. The Larkana sessions court judge rejected their bail requests and the pair remained in jail. Since 1986 at least 100 blasphemy cases have been registered against Ahmadis, with no convictions. In the same period, at least nine blasphemy cases have been brought against Christians and nine against Muslims. Some of these cases continued in the courts. In early February, a Lahore sessions court found two Christians, Salamat and Rehmat Masih, guilty of blasphemy and sentenced them to death. On February 23, however, the Lahore High Court acquitted them of blasphemy when the court found that insufficient evidence for conviction was presented at the original trial. Salamat and Rehmat Masih subsequently emigrated with the assistance of the Government. Anwar Yaqub Masih, a Christian arrested in 1993 on the charge of uttering "blasphemous phrases against the Prophet Mohammed," has served 2 years in the Faisalabad District Prison awaiting the conclusion of his trial. Following the February acquittal of Salamat and Rehmat Masih by the High Court, SSP activists announced that "as the courts were not likely to punish blasphemers" they would themselves kill Anwar Masih. In March following defense counsel Asma Jehangir's application for transfer of the case from Samundri to Faisalabad, the Lahore High Court ordered the staying of the proceedings at Samundri until further notice. Anwar Masih remains in prison. In April a woman was accused of blasphemy for the first time. A Christian teacher in a girls school in Muzaffafgarh district, Punjab, 32-year-old Catherine Shaheen, was accused by her colleagues and some local residents of "insulting the Prophet Mohammed" and preaching Christianity. An inquiry conducted by the HRCP concluded that she had not committed blasphemy but was a victim of professional jealousy and personal animosity. A formal inquiry report was submitted to the local magistrate to determine whether formal charges of blasphemy should be filed. Human rights activists believe that the inquiry report favors Shaheen's case. Students belonging to a local religious political party and local mullahs are leading a campaign against Ms. Shaheen. Six of them are reported to have taken an oath to kill her. Since the case started, Shaheen has been transferred to another area. According to the HRCP, the Education Department has decided on its own initiative not to pay her salary. In January 2 Shi'as in Peshawar were convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death for asking a local printer to produce 10,000 copies of a handbill containing a claimed pictorial representation of the Prophet Mohammad. Their appeal is pending before the Peshawar High Court. Mohammad Arshad Javaid of Bahawalpur, a 37-year-old Muslim who is reportedly mentally unsound and was convicted of blasphemy in 1994 remains in prison pending appeal to the High Court. Badshah Khan, a Muslim from Narowal District, Punjab, was accused by relatives in March of writing blasphemous words on a wall. Khan immediately petitioned the Lahore High Court, stating that he was being implicated in a false blasphemy case because of a property dispute with the complainants. The High Court has directed the police to submit a complete investigation report to the Court, and no formal blasphemy charges have yet been filed. Following an August 11 rally in protest of the country's system of separate electorates for minorities, well-known Christian leaders Bishop John Joseph, Chaudhry Cecil, and Clement Shabaz Bhatti were charged with promotion of discord between religious groups. They were granted pre- arrest bail. When such religious cases are brought to court, extremists often pack the courtroom and make public threats against an acquittal. As a result, judges and magistrates often continue trials indefinitely, and the accused is burdened with further legal costs and repeated court appearances. d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation Most citizens enjoy freedom of movement within the country and to travel abroad, but the Government occasionally prohibits movement of persons within Pakistan through "externment orders" when it believes their presence will lead to a threat to public order. Travel to Israel is legally prohibited. Government employees must obtain "no objection certificates" before traveling abroad. Students are also required to have these certificates from their institutions. Citizens have and regularly exercise the right to emigrate. Exit control lists, however, are used to prevent the departure of wanted criminals. The Government increasingly included businessmen, journalists, and political figures on the exit control list as a form of political harassment. No judicial action is required to add a name to the exit control list, and there is no judicial recourse or formal appeal mechanism if one's name is added. In 1995 several industrialists were prevented from leaving the country, allegedly because of political sympathies for opposition leader Nawaz Sharif. Nawaz Sharif's father was also stopped at the airport for several hours before special permission was granted by the Interior Ministry for him to leave. Despite specific permission from the Government, a groups of MQM/A members negotiating with the Government was once prevented from traveling to London for consultations with MQM/A leader Altaf Hussain. On numerous occasions, opposition political parties effectively prevented free movement within the country by calling strikes in Karachi and other cities of Sindh province and enforcing those strike calls with violence and the threat of violence. MQM/A activists ransacked businesses which remained open and attacked motorists and pedestrians found on the street. Largely out of fear of MQM/A sponsored violence, ordinary citizens were prevented from leaving their homes to go to work, schools, and the market. The Government cooperates with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees. There were no reports of forced expulsion of those having a valid claim to refugee status. According to the UNHCR, approximately 885,000 registered Afghan refugees remained in Pakistan at the end of the year. A total of 144,000 Afghan refugees were repatriated in the first 10 months of 1995, 75,000 of those assisted by the UNHCR. Since 1988 over 2.4 million Afghans have repatriated from Pakistan. Afghan refugees in Pakistan have limited access to legal protection and depend on the ability of the UNHCR and leaders of their groups to resolve disputes among themselves and with Pakistani society. There were credible reports that in the wake of the sacking of the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul, the bombing of the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad, and a large bomb blast in Peshawar in December, policed harassed undocumented refugees in Islamabad, Peshwar, and Rawalapindi. Afghan men and boys were reportedly stopped, and police reportedly extorted money for their failure to possess valid travel documents. Police also frequently prevent Afghan nationals from entering these cities. Most able-bodied male refugees have found at least intermittent employment but are not covered by labor laws. Women and girls obtained increasingly better education and health care as NGO's provided increased services. The "repatriation" of Biharis continued to be a contentious issue. The Biharis are Urdu-speaking people from the Indian state of Bihar who went to East Pakistan--now Bangladesh--at the time of partition in 1947. Since 1971, when Bangladesh became independent, approximately 250,000 Biharis have been in refugee camps in Bangladesh. The repatriation of these people is tied to Pakistan's various ethnic problems. While the Mohajir community--descendents of Muslims who emigrated to present-day Pakistan from India during partition--supports repatriation, the Sindhi community opposes the move. In 1993 the Government flew 342 Biharis to Pakistan and placed them in temporary housing in central Punjab. No further repatriation occurred in 1995. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government Citizens have the right and the ability to change their government peacefully. With certain exceptions, citizens aged 21 and over have the right to vote. However, several million bonded laborers and nomads may not vote because the National Election Commission has ruled that they do not "ordinarily reside in an electoral area, nor do they own or possess a dwelling or immovable property in that area." Political parties have been allowed to operate freely since the full lifting of martial law in 1988. Unregistered political parties are permitted to participate in elections. Members of the national and provincial assemblies are directly elected. The Constitution requires that the President and Prime Minister be Muslims. Members of minority religious groups may not vote in Muslim constituencies; they cast their ballots for candidates running for special at-large seats reserved for them in the national and provincial assemblies. Most Ahmadis, disputing their designation as non-Muslims, have refused to vote for such representatives. Christians and Hindus note that this system marginalizes religious minorities by allowing the Muslim candidates to ignore them as a voting block. As a result, areas where minorities predominate receive significantly less government development and assistance funds. Local government officials are also directly elected. However, local government bodies were dissolved in 1993 and new elections have not been held. In the meantime, provincial and federal officials are responsible for local government. The Government refused to present in the National Assembly four PML/N MNA'S, and in the Senate one PML/N Senator, who are detained on criminal charges. The four MNA'S and the Senator were unable to participate in parliamentary debate, committee meetings, or otherwise carry out their duties as public representatives, although they remain full members of the National Assembly or Senate. The Government did, by contrast, continue to present in the Senate 3 MQM/A Senators, and in the Sindh Provincial Assembly 11 MQM/A MPA's, despite their continued detention on criminal charges. The more than 2 million Pashtun people living in the FATA do not vote for their National Assembly representatives and have no representation in the assembly of the Northwest Frontier province. In keeping with local traditions, FATA's National Assembly members are elected by tribal leaders, or maliks, who are appointed in the Governor's name by the central Government's political agents. Many people living in this area have expressed dissatisfaction at having no vote. However, the majority of Pashtun people live outside the FATA and, while retaining their tribal identity, are fully integrated into politics and society. Because of a longstanding territorial dispute with India, the political status of the Northern Areas--Hunza, Gilgit, and Baltistan--is not resolved. As a result, more than 1 million inhabitants of the Northern Areas are not covered under any constitution and have no representation in the federal legislature. The area is administered by an appointed civil servant. While there is an elected Northern Areas Council, this body serves in an advisory capacity to the Federal Government and has no authority to change laws or raise and spend revenue. Although women participate in government, they are underrepresented in political life at all levels. Only 4 women--including the current Prime Minister--hold seats in the 217-member National Assembly. While women participate in large numbers in elections, some women are dissuaded from voting in elections by family, and religious and social customs in rural areas. Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights There are several domestic human rights organizations, and new human rights and legal aid groups continue to form. These groups are generally free to operate without government restriction. The Government has provided protection to human rights lawyers defending accused blasphemers following threats and attacks on the lawyers by religious activists. International human rights organizations have been permitted to visit Pakistan and travel freely. The Government has not always been responsive to foreign NGO's, however. The Government Human Rights Cell established branch offices in Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar. The Cell brought attention to the problem of spousal abuse by arranging visits by the Prime Minister to hospitalized abuse victims and began a television and radio campaign to educate the public on human rights issues. The Government established in November a new Ministry of Human Rights. However, by year's end, the Ministry had not found a centralized home and the Government had not yet staffed all of its positions. Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status The Constitution guarantees equality before the law to all Pakistanis and broadly prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, caste, residence, or place of birth. In practice, however, there is significant discrimination based on these factors. In July the Federal Government instituted a tribunal for the disadvantaged, headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court and including two retired judges of the High Court and three citizens. The tribunal, vested with the powers of a High Court, will make rulings on complaints of violation of the constitutional rights of women, children, and minorities. The tribunal will also be authorized to undertake investigative action on its own initiative. Women Domestic violence is a serious problem. The Ministry of Women's Development estimates that 80 percent of women are victims of domestic violence. The press continued to draw attention to deaths of married women in which they are killed by relatives in dowry or other family- related disputes. Most of the victims are burned to death, allegedly in kitchen stove accidents. The police rarely visit the scene of the crime or conduct investigations to determine how the woman was burned. An exception was the case of Iffat Iqbal, who died of severe burns to her entire body. The magistrate ordered that her body be exhumed and called for a new investigation of her death, after he accused the police of gross negligence in the initial investigation. In another case, an 18-year-old girl died of burns which her family claimed she received while making tea. An investigation by the Progressive Women's Association (PWA--an NGO that deals with domestic and social violence against women) found that she had been tied up by her brothers and doused with kerosene. The brothers are in jail but had not been convicted as of year's end. Approximately 92 burn cases had been reported at the Rawalpindi General Hospital during the year, according to the PWA. There were no convictions in any burn cases in 1995. Increased media coverage of cases of wife burnings, spousal abuse and murder, and rape cases has helped to raise awareness about violence against women. Several human rights activists have commented that a few years ago it was considered taboo even to discuss the problem of rape, whereas now rape cases are reported frequently in local newspapers and magazines. The Ministry of Women's Development ran a commercial on spousal abuse on the state-owned television network. As part of her effort to highlight the problem of violence against women, the Prime Minister in June made a public hospital visit to a burn victim whose husband had thrown kerosene on her and then lit a match. Her husband was arrested and the Government paid the victim's hospital expenses. While abusive spouses may be charged for assault, cases are rarely filed. Police usually return battered wives to their abusive husbands. Women are reluctant to file charges because of societal roles that make women economically and psychologically dependent on their husbands and male relatives as well as the social stigma of divorce. Relatives are also reluctant to report cases of abuse in order to protect the reputation of the family. Rape is a widespread problem. However, it is estimated that less than one-third of all rapes are reported to the police. In 1995 2,488 cases of rape were registered with the Punjab police. Many more instances are believed to have occurred, but, because of societal and family pressure, were not reported. Women also are reluctant to file rape charges because they then open themselves up to charges of adultery under the Hadood Ordinances. Marital rape is not a crime, and the rape of another man's wife is a common method of revenge in rural and tribal areas. Traffickers in women bought or lured hundreds of women from Bangladesh with promises of a better life. They transported the women across India and placed them with families as domestic servants or as prostitutes in brothels. The authorities detained some of the women for prostitution under the Hadood Ordinances. Few are able or willing to return to Bangladesh. Many are released into the custody of their exploiters, who set them to work as prostitutes again. Efforts to repatriate Bangladeshis in 1995 were mostly unsuccessful. There are an increasing number of reports of women killed or mutilated by male relatives who suspect them of adultery. Few such cases are investigated seriously. An article in the magazine Newsline alleged that hundreds of men and women from Baluchistan and rural areas of Sindh and Punjab provinces are killed annually for illicit sexual relations. While the tradition of such killing applies equally to offending men and women, women are more likely to be killed than men. There are significant barriers to the advancement of women, beginning at birth. In general, female children are less valued and cared for than male children. According to a United Nations study, girls receive less nourishment, health care, and education than boys. According to the Government, only 23.5 percent of the females over 10 years old are literate, compared with 48.9 percent for males; the level of literacy among females is declining. Only 12 percent of women use family planning methods. As a result, the fertility rate is six children per woman. In rural areas, women in small farm families generally work alongside men in the fields. However, they remain subordinate to men and suffer discrimination in education, employment, and legal rights. Human rights monitors and women's groups feared that the Shari'a Law would have a harmful effect on the rights of women and minorities. However, the Law states that women's and minority rights protected under the Constitution would not be affected. The Law's impact on these groups has been limited because the Government has not passed enabling legislation. Nonetheless, the Law reinforces popular attitudes and perceptions, and contributes to an atmosphere in which discriminatory treatment of women and non-Muslims is more readily accepted. Some Islamic leaders continue to stress a conservative interpretation of Islamic injunctions to justify discrimination against women. Many citizens interpret the Koran's injunctions on modesty to mean that women should remain either at home or veiled. It remains accepted practice to assign women subordinate roles in the civil, political, and managerial hierarchies. Both civil and religious laws protect women's rights in cases of divorce, but, as in the case of inheritance laws, many women are unaware of them, and often the laws are not observed. In inheritance cases women generally do not receive--or are pressed to surrender--their due share of the inheritance. In rural areas, the practice of a woman "marrying the Koran" is still widely accepted if her family cannot arrange a suitable marriage or wants to keep the family wealth intact. A woman married to the Koran is forbidden to have any contact with males over 14 years of age, including her immediate family members. The Government's Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) condemned the practice as un-Islamic, but the CII ruling is not legally binding. Press reports indicate that the practice of buying and selling brides still takes place in parts of NWFP and the Punjab. In 1992 the Supreme Court invalidated the requirement that a husband must give written notice of a divorce to a local union council. The husband's statement, with or without witnesses, is the defining legal step. The woman, lacking written proof of divorce, remains legally and socially vulnerable. Human rights organizations expressed concern that a woman could be charged with adultery if her former spouse were to deny having divorced her. There are also limits on the admissibility and value of women's testimony in court (see Section 1.e.). Although a small number of women study and teach in universities, postgraduate employment opportunities remain largely limited to teaching, medical services, and the law. Nevertheless, an increasing number of women are entering the commercial and public sectors. Karachi lawyers estimate that the number of female judges in civil courts there has increased to about 30 percent of the total. There are reports that women who apply to professional colleges face discrimination. Women may now participate in international athletic competition, although few do. Women's organizations operate primarily in urban centers. Many concentrate on educating women about existing legal rights. Other groups concentrate on providing legal aid to poor women in prison who may not be able to afford an attorney. According to an independent observer, the Government through 1995 had trained and deployed over 20,000 female rural health workers. The Government hopes to train another 10,000 in 1996 with the goal of having a total of 100,000 by 1998. The Government also produced television documentaries on women in development and family planning, and promoted population services in advertisements and by enlisting the support of religious leaders. Pakistan hosted the first Muslim Women Parliamentarians' Conference in August. In August the Cabinet approved ratification with reservations of the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), declaring that the Constitution would not be bound by Paragraph 1 of Article 29 and Paragraph 2 of Article 28. The Ministry of Women's Development worked closely with the NGO community in preparation for the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women. Several different NGO's focusing on women's issues contributed to Pakistan's Country Report on the Status of Women prepared for the conference. The Prime Minster delivered a keynote address at the Beijing Conference emphasizing the importance for women of education, financial independence, and a strong family. Children Legal rights for children are theoretically protected by numerous laws which incorporate elements of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, the Government frequently fails to enforce these laws. Federal law allows, but does not require, offenders under the age of 14 to be placed in reform schools; however, no such facilities exist. There is only one jail in each province for convicted prisoners under age 21. A 1994 United Nations report estimated that there are 250 children under the age of 14 in prison at any time. Although Punjab and Sindh provinces have laws mandating special judicial procedures for child offenders, in practice, children and adults are essentially treated equally. Very young children accompany their convicted mothers to jail. There is no federal law on compulsory education, and neither the federal or provincial governments provide sufficient resources to assure universal education. Government provision of health care is somewhat better--especially with the program deploying rural health workers--but health care services in most areas remain woefully inadequate. Many children begin working at a very early age. At the age of 5 or 6, female children are often responsible for younger siblings. Children are sometimes kidnapped to be used as forced labor, for ransom, or to seek revenge against an enemy. The HRCP reported an average of 400 kidnappings of children per month in Punjab province alone in 1993. The HRCP also reported that half of the 4,000 rapes that were registered in 1993 were of minors or teenagers. Child prostitution involving boys and girls is widely known to exist but is rarely discussed. The Government does little to deter it. People with Disabilities There are no laws requiring equal accessibility to public buildings for disabled persons. However, the Human Rights Cell requested all city administrations to incorporate facilities for the disabled--including wheelchair access ramps and elevators--in local building codes. Religious Minorities Among religious minorities, there is a well-founded belief that the authorities afford them less legal protection than they afford Muslim citizens. Members of religious minorities are subject to violence and harassment. In April one Ahmadi was killed and another was injured by an angry crowd in a village north of Peshawar (see Section 2.c.). Ahmadis are often targets of violence, often instigated by local religious leaders. Two Ahmadis charged under 298(c) were scheduled to receive confirmation of their bail applications in late January. The court session was postponed because a large group of armed mullahs stormed the court premises. The mullahs reportedly abducted and beat one of the Ahmadis. The police refused to register a complaint against the mullahs over the beating. Asma Jehangir, defense lawyer for the Masihs and others accused of blasphemy, was harassed by militant Muslim group members during the course of the Masih trial. Her car was damaged outside the Lahore High Court and she received death threats. In October her Lahore home was broken into by armed men who attempted to take members of her family hostage. The assailants were driven off in a gun battle with security guards. Religious minority groups also experience considerable discrimination in employment and education; the laws facilitate discrimination in employment based on religion. In Pakistan's early years, minorities were able to rise to the senior ranks of the military and civil service. Today, many are unable to rise above mid-level ranks. Because of the lack of educational opportunities for some religious minority groups, discrimination in employment is believed to be increasingly prevalent. There are also restrictions on testimony in court by non-Muslims (see Section 1.e.). Christians in particular have difficulty finding jobs above those of menial labor. Many Christians continue to express the fear of forced marriages between Muslim males and Christian women, although the practice is relatively rare. Christians are among the least educated citizens. According to one Christian rights activist, only 8 percent of Christian males and 6 percent of Christian females are literate. Ahmadis suffer from harassment and discrimination and have limited chances for advancement into management levels in government service. Even the rumor that someone may be an Ahmadi or have Ahmadi relatives can stifle opportunities for employment or promotion. Young Ahmadis and their parents complain of increasing difficulty in gaining admittance to good colleges, forcing many children to go overseas for higher education. Section 6 Worker Rights a. The Right of Association The Industrial Relations Ordinance of 1969 (IRO) enunciates the right of industrial workers to form trade unions but is subject to major restrictions in some employment areas. In practice, labor laws place significant constraints on the formation of industrial unions and their ability to function effectively. For example, the law prohibits workers in export processing zones (EPZ's) from forming trade unions. The Essential Services Maintenance Act of 1952 (ESA) covers sectors associated with "the administration of the State," i.e., government services and state enterprises, such as oil and gas production, electricity generation and transmission, the state-owned airline, and ports. Workers in these sectors are allowed to form unions. However, the ESA sharply restricts normal union activities, usually prohibiting, for example, the right to strike in affected organizations. In response to international criticism, the Government took steps in 1995 to limit application of the ESA. Union members make up only about 13 percent of the industrial labor force and 10 percent of the total estimated work force. Contract labor continues to flourish, undercutting the power of the unions and exploiting workers willing to work on temporary contracts. These workers receive fewer benefits and have no job security. There is no provision in the law granting the right of association to agricultural workers. A celebrated case that remained unresolved in 1995 involved the protracted struggle to form a union by workers employed by Daewoo Corporation to build a highway between Lahore and Islamabad. Following a court decision to allow the workers to register their union, the Punjab provincial government initially appealed this ruling in the provincial Labor Court, but dropped dropped its appeal against the workers in April. However, Daewoo then lodged its own appeal, and the case remains in litigation. Among other things, Daewoo objects to the fact that most of the proposed union's leaders are no longer Daewoo employees. Legally required conciliation proceedings and cooling-off periods constrain the right to strike, as does the Government's authority to ban any strike that may cause "serious hardship to the community" or prejudice to the national interest. The Government may also ban a strike that has continued for 30 days. Strikes are rare. When they occur, they are usually illegal and short. The Government regards as illegal any strike conducted by workers who are not members of a legally registered union. Police do not hesitate to crack down on worker demonstrations. The law prohibits employers from seeking retribution against leaders of a legal strike and stipulates criminal penalties for offenders. The courts may imprison employers for violating this prohibition but they are more likely to fine them. The law does not protect leaders of illegal strikes. Unions may belong to federations. There are seven major federations which are free to affiliate with international federations and confederations. The Government permits trade unions all across the political spectrum. While many unions remain aloof from party politics, the most powerful are those associated with political parties. After the PPP came to power in 1988, it successfully organized trade unions under the banner of the People's Labor Bureau (PLB). The PLB's main competitors are the Jamaat-i-Islami's National Labor Federation and the MQM-backed labor unions. The International Labor Organization (ILO) has stated that current Pakistani law and practice violate the Government's commitments under ILO Convention 87. The ILO has urged the Government to lift prohibitions against union activity in EPZ's and with respect to teachers, radio, television, railway, forestry, hospital, and other government employees, as well as to rescind the existing ban on strikes. The ILO also expressed concern about the practice of artificial promotions that exclude workers from the purview of the Industrial Relations Ordinance and stated that nonapplication of labor laws in proposed new "Special Industrial Zones" would be a violation of Convention 111. In response to a government request, the ILO has provided technical assistance to help bring the country's labor laws into conformity with the world body's conventions. In 1994 a government task force on labor prepared a report recommending improvements on worker rights problems, but as of year's end the Cabinet had not approved its proposals. b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively The right of industrial workers to organize and freely elect representatives to act as collective bargaining agents is established in law. The IRO prohibits antiunion discrimination by employers. If found guilty of antiunion discrimination, employers are required to reinstate workers fired for union activities. In general, legally constituted unions have the right to bargain collectively. However, the many restrictions on forming unions (see Section 6.a.) preclude collective bargaining by large sections of the labor force, e.g., agricultural workers, who are not guaranteed the right to strike, bargain collectively, or make demands on employers. The ESA also restricts collective bargaining. For each industry subject to the ESA, the Government must make a finding, renewable every 6 months, on the limits of union activity. In cases in which the Government prohibits collective bargaining, special wage boards decide wage levels. These boards are established at the provincial level and are comprised of representatives from industry, labor, and the provincial labor ministry, which provides the chairman. The chairman may name additional industry and labor representatives to the board. Despite the presence of the labor representatives, unions are generally dissatisfied with the boards' findings. Disputes are adjudicated before the National Industrial Relations Commission. A worker's right to quit may also be curtailed under the ESA. Dismissed workers have no recourse to the labor courts. Most unions call for the abolition of the ESA. c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor The Constitution and the law prohibit forced labor. However, critics argue that the ESA's limitation on some worker rights constitutes a form of compulsory labor. The Government informed the ILO's Committee on the Application of Standards in 1990 that amendments were under consideration to rectify the problem. However, the Government has taken no further action. Illegal bonded labor is widespread. Bonded labor is common in the brick, glass, and fishing industries and is found among agricultural and construction workers in rural areas. Conservative estimates put the figure of bonded workers at several million. The Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act, adopted in 1992, outlawed bonded labor, canceled all existing bonded debts, and forbade lawsuits for the recovery of existing debts. However, the provincial governments, which are responsible for enforcing the law, have failed to establish enforcement mechanisms. Hence, the law is largely ineffective. Lacking employment alternatives, many workers have voluntarily returned to bonded labor. In June escaped victims and HRCP activists disclosed that 35 families comprising more than 100 persons, including women and children, were being held in bondage by a landowner near Umerkot in southern Sindh. They said that some 22 years ago the landlord gave a loan of 500 rupees to each of the peasants which over the years accumulated to 50,000 to 60,000 rupees each. HRCP and the escaped peasants contended that the landlord exerted such control over local police that their investigation resulted in a report claiming that the peasants were happy. Escaped peasants have taken refuge with the Bonded Labor Liberation Front and charged that their female relatives still in bondage were constantly being raped by the landlord, his sons, and their henchmen. The landlord told HRCP that the escaped peasants owed him 500,000 rupees and that they were being held hostage by BLLF, which he claims asked for 200,000 rupees to release them. The landlord said that until the escapees are returned to him, he cannot release their families. In November 82 bonded workers were freed from 3 private prisons in Sindh where they were made to work harvesting sugar cane, some in chains. One of the landlords charged in these cases was deputy superintendent of police in Sindh. d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children Child labor is common and results from a combination of severe poverty, employer greed, and inadequate enforcement of laws intended to control it. The Government acknowledges that violations of existing laws are common but claims that the responsible provincial authorities are strengthening enforcement. A key factor is the absence of any federal law on compulsory primary education. One provincial government, in Punjab, has passed such a law but, because of funding constraints, the law has not yet been implemented. Among other things, the province would have to hire some 40,000 new teachers to carry out this program. Unofficial estimates indicate that workers under 18 years old make up one-third of the total labor force. While much child labor is in the traditional framework of family farming or small business, the employment of children in larger industries and, according to labor activists, in state-sponsored training programs, is also widespread. Child labor is widely employed in the carpet industry, much of which is family-run. Children have also been employed in other export industries, such as textiles, leather tanning, surgical instruments, and sporting goods, though the extent is unclear. In June 1994, the Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the ILO on cooperation toward elimination of child labor. The two sides are conducting a nationwide survey to develop an accurate assessment of the scale of child labor. The Government has also announced its intention to establish a pilot program of 35 rehabilitation centers for former child laborers and is seeking funding for this program. The April murder near Lahore of Iqbal Masih, a young activist of the BLLF, drew international attention. The BLLF alleged that the murder had been engineered by carpet manufacturers, who reportedly blamed Masih for contributing to the industry's poor international image. According to a preliminary investigation conducted by the authorities and the HRCP, however, the murder was unrelated to Masih's labor activism and did not involve carpet manufacturers. The accused murderer, alleged eyewitnesses, the victim's family, and others involved have changed their stories about the case several times. A federal tribunal headed by a High Court judge investigated the case and determined that the carpet industry "has no role or involvement" in the case. The tribunal noted, however, that the alleged killer's retraction of his earlier confession created some complications necessitating further investigation. e. Acceptable Conditions of Work Labor regulations are governed by federal statutes applicable throughout the country. The monthly minimum wage is approximately $44 (1,500 rupees). Although this wage provides a meager subsistence living for a small family, the minimum wage affects only a small part of the work force, and most families are large. The law, applicable nationally, provides for a maximum workweek of 54 hours, rest periods during the workday, and paid annual holidays. These regulations do not apply to agricultural workers, workers in factories with fewer than 10 employees, and to the small "contract groups," which are subdivisions within factories of 10 or fewer workers. Many workers are unaware of the regulations protecting their rights because of their lack of education. The provinces have been ineffective in enforcing labor regulations, because of limited resources, corruption, and inadequate regulatory structures. In general, health and safety standards are poor. Although organized labor presses for improvements, the Government has done little and weakly enforces existing legal protections. Workers cannot remove themselves from dangerous work conditions without risking loss of employment. (###)
[end of document]
to 1995 Human Rights Practices report home page.
Return to DOSFAN home page.
This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.