Recommend UsEmail this PageeGazetteAlislam.org
U.S. Department of State
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006
The government’s human rights record was poor, and serious problems remained. The following human rights problems were reported:
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Police force effectiveness varied greatly by district, ranging from reasonably good to completely ineffective. Some members of the police force committed numerous serious human rights abuses. Failure to punish abuses, however, created a climate of impunity. Police and prison officials frequently used the threat of abuse to extort money from prisoners and their families. The inspector general, district police officer, district nazim, provincial interior or chief ministers, federal interior or prime minister, or the courts can order internal investigations into abuses and order administrative sanctions. Executive branch and police officials can recommend and the courts can order criminal prosecution. Police failed in some instances to protect members of religious minorities—particularly Christians, Ahmadis, and Shi’as—from societal attacks (see sections 2.c. and 5).
Corruption within the police was rampant. Police charged fees to register genuine complaints and accepted money for registering false complaints. Bribes to avoid charges were commonplace. Persons paid police to humiliate their opponents and avenge their personal grievances. Corruption was most prominent amongst station house officers (SHO), some of whom reportedly operated arrest for ransom operations and established unsanctioned stations to increase illicit revenue collection.
Arrest and Detention
A First Information Report (FIR) is the legal basis for all arrests. Police may issue FIRs provided complainants offer reasonable proof that a crime was committed. A FIR allows police to detain a named suspect for 24 hours, after which only a magistrate can order detention for an additional 14 days, and then only if police show such detention is material to the investigation. In practice the authorities did not fully observe these limits on detention. FIRs were frequently issued without supporting evidence as part of harassment or intimidation. Police routinely did not seek magistrate approval for investigative detention and often held detainees without charge until a court challenged them. Incommunicado detention occurred (see section 1.c.). When asked, magistrates usually approved investigative detention without reference to its necessity. In cases of insufficient evidence, police and magistrates colluded to continue detention beyond the 14-day period provided in the law through the issuance of new FIRs. …
The law provides for an independent judiciary; however, in practice the judiciary remained subject to executive branch influence at all levels. Lower courts remained corrupt, inefficient, and subject to pressure from prominent religious and political figures. The politicized nature of judicial promotions enhanced the government’s control over the court system. Unfulfilled judgeships and inefficient court procedures resulted in severe backlogs at both trial and appellate levels. In nonpolitical cases, the high courts and Supreme Court were generally considered credible.
Court rulings mandate the death sentence for anyone blaspheming against the “prophets.” The law provides for life imprisonment for desecrating the Koran and up to 10 years in prison for insulting another’s religious beliefs with the intent to outrage religious feelings (see section 2.c.). On August 7, the Punjab provincial government ordered two Ahmadi printing presses in Jhang, Punjab, shut down. Police took the editor of the Ahmaddiya community magazine al-Fazl, Sami Khan, into protective custody and later released him. The move followed complaints from a local Islamic leader that the publications insulted the religious sentiments of Muslims. The provincial Home Department ultimately gave permission for the presses to reopen. …
The law provides for freedom “to assemble peacefully and without arms subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of public order,” and freedom of association, and the government generally observed these rights, but with some restrictions.
Freedom of Assembly
While the government allowed numerous opposition rallies and demonstrations to proceed during the year, it refused permits for processions in urban areas. Ahmadis have been prohibited from holding any conferences or gatherings since 1984 (see section 2.c.).
The law states that adequate provisions shall be made for minorities to profess and practice their religions freely; [**] however, the government limited freedom of religion. Islam is the state religion, and the constitution requires that laws be consistent with Islam. All citizens were subject to certain provisions of Shari’a, such as the blasphemy laws. Reprisals and threats of reprisals against suspected converts from Islam occurred. Members of religious minorities were subject to violence and harassment, and police at times refused to prevent such actions or charge persons who committed them. The president and the prime minister must be Muslim. The prime minister, federal ministers, and ministers of state, as well as elected members of the senate and national assembly (including non-Muslims), must take an oath to “strive to preserve the Islamic ideology, which is the basis for the creation of Pakistan” (see section 3).
The law declares the Ahmadi community, which considers itself a Muslim sect, to be a non-Muslim minority. Ahmadis, who claimed their population was approximately 2 million, were prohibited by law from engaging in any Muslim practices, including using Muslim greetings, referring to their places of worship as mosques, reciting Islamic prayers, and participating in the Hajj or Ramadan fast. Ahmadis are prohibited from proselytizing, holding gatherings, or distributing literature. Government forms, including passport applications and voter registration documents, require anyone wishing to be listed as a Muslim to denounce the founder of the Ahmadi faith. In March the government reinstated the religion column for machine readable passports (see section 2.d.). Ahmadis were frequently discriminated against in government hiring and in admission to government schools.
Complaints under the blasphemy laws, which prohibit derogatory statements or action against Islam, the Koran, or the prophets, were used to settle business or personal disputes and harass religious minorities or reform-minded Muslims. Most complaints were filed against the majority Sunni Muslim community. Most blasphemy cases were ultimately dismissed at the appellate level; however, the accused often remained in jail for years awaiting a final verdict. Trial courts were reluctant to release on bail or acquit blasphemy defendants for fear of violence from religious extremist groups. On January 4, President Musharraf signed a bill into law revising the complaint process and requiring senior police officials to review such cases in an effort to eliminate spurious charges. During the year there were 3 persons convicted and 5 acquitted under the blasphemy laws and another 67 ongoing cases.
All religious groups experienced bureaucratic delays and requests for bribes when attempting to build houses of worship or obtain land. The government prevented Ahmadis from building houses of worship.
Societal Abuses and Discrimination
Christians and Ahmadis were the targets of religious violence. For example, on March 28, five gunmen opened fire on Christians leaving Easter services at a church in Lahore, killing one and injuring seven. The motivation for the attack, in which the police arrested two assailants, appeared to be a land dispute between local Muslims and the Christian community. In April unknown assailants kidnapped and killed Pastor Shamoon Babar and his Catholic driver, Daniel Emmanuel. Police surmised that the two men had been tortured and shot several times while bound; their bodies were left on the Peshawar road. Police suspected that Babar’s non religious business activities were the motivating factor in the crime; however, the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) believed the killings to be religiously motivated. On October 7, unidentified gunmen opened fire at an Ahmadi worship service in Mong, Mandi Bahauddin, Punjab, killing 8 and wounding 14 (see section 1.a.).
Ahmadi leaders charged that militant Sunni mullahs and their followers sometimes staged marches through the streets of Rabwah, a predominantly Ahmadi town and spiritual center in central Punjab. Backed by crowds of between 100 and 200 persons, the mullahs reportedly denounced Ahmadis and their founder, creating a situation that sometimes led to violence. The Ahmadis claimed that police generally were present during these marches but did not intervene to prevent violence.
The Ahmadi, Christian, Hindu, and Shi’a Muslim communities reported significant discrimination in employment and access to education, including at government institutions.
For a more detailed discussion, see the 2005 International Religious Freedom Report.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Disability, Language, or Social Status
The law provides for equality for all citizens and broadly prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, caste, residence, or place of birth; however, in practice there was significant discrimination based on these factors.
The Shi’a, Christian, Hindu, and Ahmadi communities all faced discrimination and societal violence (see section 2.c.).