With the swearing in of Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani government should act immediately to reverse the country’s human rights record.
Amnesty International urged Mr Zardari and his party’s government to:
reveal the fate of hundreds of victims of “enforced disappearances”
reinstate all the judges illegally deposed by former president Pervez Musharraf in November 2007
commute the death sentences for more than 7,000 people currently on death row
protect civilians in the tribal areas of Pakistan
“There are no excuses for the government to delay acting on its pledge to address the terrible situation for many families of the “disappeared” by gathering and publicizing a list of all those in government detention,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.
Amnesty International also said that the human rights situation would remain bleak in Pakistan without an effective, independent judiciary. “The restoration of the judges is a necessary step toward ensuring an independent judiciary.” Zafiri said. “Judges are in a unique position to challenge human rights policies, overturn abusive laws and protect individuals from violations. Without an effective, independent judiciary, the human rights situation will remain bleak in Pakistan.”
The organization also reminded the new president of the public commitment made by his party and the prime minister to commute the death sentences of more than 7,000 people who are on death row – what would be the largest mass commutation in modern times. This would be the first action towards a general moratorium on the death penalty, with the ultimate aim of abolishing it.
In the final point of the statement, Amnesty International recognized the legitimate security concerns of the Pakistan government in the tribal areas of Pakistan but urged the new President that security forces operations should aim at protection of civilian lives. The security forces operations and militants’ activities have resulted in mass internal displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, in addition to the loss of many civilian lives.
Asif Ali Zardari was elected as the new president of Pakistan on 6 September when president Pervez Musharraf resigned on 18 August, after the new elected government in Pakistan threatened him with impeachment proceedings.
Mr Zardari is the widower of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated on 7 December 2007. He became head of the Pakistan People’s Party after her death.