Massive floods displaced millions of Pakistanis, leaving them in need of food, health care and shelter. Insurgent groups unlawfully killed people in Pakistan’s conflict-ridden Northwest and Balochistan. They inflicted cruel punishments on the civilian population and launched deadly suicide attacks in the major cities, causing hundreds of civilian deaths and injuries. More than 2 million people were displaced by the conflict in north-west Pakistan. Torture, deaths in custody, “honour killings” and domestic violence persisted, despite new international commitments to safeguard rights. Members of the armed forces continued to arbitrarily arrest civilians, subjecting some to extrajudicial executions. New cases of enforced disappearance soared, particularly in Balochistan, where many victims were found dead. Old cases of enforced disappearance remained unresolved. Violence against religious minorities intensified with the government failing to prevent or punish the perpetrators. An informal moratorium on executions remained, but over 300 people were sentenced to death.
Floods, which began in north-western Pakistan in July, killed almost 2,000 people and directly affected more than 20 million. This acute humanitarian crisis added to the existing misery of those already displaced by the conflict. The Pakistani army pushed Taleban forces out of the Swat Valley and South Waziristan in 2009, and out of the Bajaur and Orakzai agencies in 2010. Despite successes on the battlefield, military and civilian authorities failed to address the underlying causes of the conflict. They did nothing to improve the area’s significant underdevelopment, failing to re-build basic infrastructure, including schools, and neglecting to restore businesses. Humanitarian relief for the displaced remained inadequate. Humanitarian organizations and independent monitors were barred from effectively operating in conflict areas.
US drone strikes targeting suspected al-Qa'ida and Taleban insurgents in Pakistan's border regions more than doubled to a reported 118 strikes in 2010, fuelling anti-American sentiment among the population.
On 24 March, Pakistan ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention against Torture, with sweeping reservations. No steps were taken to incorporate these international commitments into domestic law.
In April, the 18th constitutional amendment ended the President’s power to dissolve Parliament, introduced citizens’ right to freedom of information, enhanced provincial autonomy, and obliged provinces to provide free education to all children.
In October, Asma Jahangir, a prominent human rights advocate, was elected the first woman President of the Supreme Court Bar Association.Top of page
Hundreds of civilians were killed in army operations against insurgents in the Northwest. Dozens of suspected insurgents were killed by lashkars (tribal militias) sponsored by the army but lacking proper training or monitoring.
Security forces reportedly killed suspected members of armed groups in the Northwest and Balochistan, mostly with impunity. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), an NGO, recorded 282 bodies of suspected insurgents found between the end of military operations in Swat Valley in July 2009 and May. Local people attributed these killings to the security forces. Several activists campaigning against enforced disappearance in Balochistan disappeared themselves and were killed.
Armed groups in the Northwest inflicted cruel and inhuman punishments, attacked civilians and destroyed civilian structures, including schools.
Anti-government armed groups killed or injured thousands of civilians in suicide bombings and targeted attacks.
According to the HRCP, between 1,000 and 2,600 people, including children related to suspected insurgents, continued to be held in military custody after search and military operations in Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Police tortured and otherwise ill-treated detainees in their custody. They failed to take sufficient measures to protect people from mob violence and in some instances appeared to have colluded in it.
In March, a three-member panel constituted by the Supreme Court began to review cases of enforced disappearance. Its mandate included recording evidence of released people and investigating the role of the intelligence agencies. The Judicial Commission reached its conclusion on 31 December and submitted its findings and recommendations to the Federal government for review. The Commission’s report remained classified at the end of the year.
Hundreds of people went missing, apparently after being held by the intelligence services or the army. The majority of cases were in Balochistan. Hundreds of habeas corpus petitions remained pending in provincial High Courts but the intelligence services refused to respond to court directions. Families of the disappeared were threatened for speaking out about their missing loved ones.
Journalists were harassed, ill-treated and killed by state agents and members of anti-government armed groups. State agents failed to protect journalists from attacks by armed groups; 19 media workers were killed, making Pakistan the most dangerous country for media workers in 2010, according to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists. The authorities blocked some online news sites.
The state failed to prevent and prosecute discrimination, harassment and violence against religious minorities and, increasingly, moderate Sunni Muslims. Ahmadis, Shi’as and Christians were attacked and killed in apparent sectarian violence. Sectarian groups reportedly linked to the Taleban attacked Shi’as, Ahmadis and Sufis with impunity. Blasphemy laws continued to be misused against Ahmadis and Christians, as well as Shi’a muslims and Sunnis.
Abuse of blasphemy laws persisted. At least 67 Ahmadis, 17 Christians, eight Muslims and six Hindus were charged with blasphemy and several cases were dismissed following dubious accusations or improper investigations by the authorities, according to the National Commission for Justice and Peace.
The state failed to protect several of those charged with blasphemy from subsequent attacks.
Gender-based violence, including rape, forced marriages, “honour killings”, acid attacks and other forms of domestic violence, was committed with impunity as police were reluctant to register and investigate complaints. According to the women’s helpline Madadgaar, 1,195 women had been murdered as of late November. Of these, 98 had been raped before they were killed. Madadgaar figures showed a total of 321 women raped, and 194 gang-raped.
On 22 December the Federal Shariat Court ruled to reverse several provisions of the 2006 Women’s Protection Act. The verdict sought to reinstate certain provisions of the 1979 Hudood Ordinance which were extremely discriminatory against women.
An informal moratorium on executions, begun in late 2008, continued. However, the death penalty was imposed on 356 people, including one juvenile, mostly for murder. Some 8,000 prisoners remained on death row, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.Top of page