Mixed U.S. rights reviews for Afghanistan and Pakistan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pakistan and Afghanistan, important but struggling U.S. allies in fighting Islamist militants, received mixed reviews in a U.S. State Department review of worldwide human rights conditions last year.
Pakistan and Afghanistan share a long and often lawless border that has provided al Qaeda and affiliated Taliban fighters refuge from which they stage suicide bombings and other attacks on the two Muslim South Asian countries.
Pakistan was engulfed in political turmoil late last year as President Pervez Musharraf sacked judges, suspended courts and detained lawyers and opposition leaders during some six weeks of emergency rule.
"Despite President Musharraf's stated commitment to democratic transition, Pakistan's human rights situation deteriorated during much of 2007," said the annual report released on Tuesday.
"At the end of the year, there still were 11 suspended judges and three lawyers under house arrest, and media outlets were required to sign a code of conduct that prohibited criticism of the government in order to operate," it said.
The report did not cover Pakistan developments since the end of last year, including February elections which were won by opponents of Musharraf, a former army chief. The opposition parties have agreed to form a government and have vowed to reverse Musharraf's dismissal of the top judges.
The State Department said Afghanistan had made "important progress" since the draconian Taliban were deposed after a U.S. military invasion in 2001.
The Taliban, which hosted Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda when they launched the September 11 attacks, have regrouped in parts of the country and continue to confront a fledgling Afghan army that is backed by some 50,000 NATO and U.S. troops.
"Afghanistan's human rights record remained poor due to a deadly insurgency, weak governmental and traditional institutions, corruption and drug trafficking, and the country's two-and-a-half decades of conflict," said the report.
The insurgency caused more than 6,500 deaths from suicide attacks, roadside bombs, and combat-related violence last year, in a dramatic increase from 2006, it said.
"Abuses by national security forces continued, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrest and detention, official impunity, and torture," said the report.
However, the report said the Afghan government was working to extend its rule to more of the country and to professionalize its army and police. To curb abuses, rights training had been introduced for soldiers and police, it said.
(Reporting by Paul Eckert; editing by Mohammad Zargham)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this