Rights abuses: US raps Pakistan’s ‘culture of impunity

Published: April 9, 2011
US State Department says security forces operating outside the writ of the civilian government.

US State Department says security forces operating outside the writ of the civilian government.


The US State Department said on Friday that Pakistan had a “culture of impunity” on human rights abuses which often encouraged security forces to operate outside the control of the civilian government.

In its annual survey on human rights the State Department reported widespread concerns in Pakistan including violence against women, child labour, corruption and discrimination against religious minorities.

The criticism came days after the release of  a White House report claiming that Pakistan was avoiding direct conflict with the militants in the tribal areas and that it still had no “ clear path” to defeat militants on its soil.

The report said Pakistan had not held anyone accountable for a 2009 incident — shown in a leaked video — in which men in military uniforms shot dead six young men who were lined up and blindfolded with hands behind their backs. Neither were the conclusions of the investigation publicly announced, it said.

Days after this video surfaced on the Internet, it noted another video emerged showing men in military uniforms beating prisoners in a remote location.

“A failure to credibly investigate allegations, impose disciplinary or accountability measures and consistently prosecute those responsible for abuses contributed to a culture of impunity,” the report said.

The State Department report was blunt about the persistent power of the armed forces. “Security forces did not report to civilian authorities and operated independently from the civilian government,” it said. Some of the bluntness about the security forces is attributed to the strained ties between the two allies following the detention of CIA operative Raymond Davis in Lahore.

There were several reports that “the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings”.

“Politically motivated killings and societal violence, including killings by angry mobs, continued. There were reports of extra-judicial killings in connection with conflicts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.”

Nationalist leaders as well as government figures in Balochistan also remained targets of attacks during the year. The elected civilian government, especially the coalition partner Awami National Party (ANP) in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, was one of the targets. The State Department also said that there were reports of politically motivated killings in Karachi.

It also pointed out that politically motivated disappearances continued during the year. “There were reports of disappearances in nearly all areas of the country. Some police and security forces held prisoners incommunicado,” it said. Many Sindhi and Baloch nationalists were among the missing. There were also reports of disappearances during the year in connection with the conflicts in Fata and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The report took note of government efforts to improve human rights, including a new law against sexual harassment and the allocation of reserved seats in parliament for religious minorities.

But the report said that women spoke of rape in custody, with few perpetrators held to account, and said that women and girls were often subjected to abuse or “honour killings” as part of family disputes.

“Women often were treated as the property or goods of their families, and perpetrators were often husbands and other male family members,” it said.

The law prohibits torture and other inhuman treatment, but there were reports that security forces tortured and abused individuals in custody. “There were accusations of security forces raping women during interrogations. The government rarely took action against those responsible.”

During the year there were reports of civilians kidnapped or taken hostage by militant groups in Fata, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan.

The report also said that religious minorities — namely Christians and Ahmadis —were more likely to suffer abuse in prison and reported cases of torture in custody. AFP

with additional input from the news desk)

Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (37)

  • vivek ramana
    Apr 8, 2011 - 11:55PM

    US should see it’s own shoes while criticizing others, what did they do when their soldiers were torturing civillians in iran and giving pose with corpse and why are u making blind eye on ur friend israel. i really hate the mentality of US pak watch out i think the climate is changing..Recommend

  • John
    Apr 9, 2011 - 12:18AM

    @vivek ramana:
    For your information, those US soldiers of Abu Greb prison and others who violated the code of conduct, and those who killed civilians etc were all in Jail.

    Nothing in this report is untrue. If any, the US report is very polished about the culture of impunity in Pakistan. Recommend

  • Maddog Qadafhi
    Apr 9, 2011 - 12:20AM

    @Vivek Ramana

    “US should see it’s own shoes while criticizing others, what did they do when their soldiers were torturing civillians in iran”

    The US has no troops in Iran…

    “and giving pose with corpse”

    Such people are being prosecuted. That is the difference. No one can guarantee that soldiers will be perfect all the time. The difference is that the US prosecutes and imprisons and/or executes them. In other countries there is often no consequences.

    “and why are u making blind eye on ur friend israel”

    I have never heard of Israel engaging in torture. Recommend

  • Cautious
    Apr 9, 2011 - 1:28AM

    I can understand why the Pakistani’s are embarrassed by this report – more so because the report is obviously accurate. Unfortunately the Pakistani people lack the will for meaningful change – they reserve there marches for important thing like protesting for the right to kill blasphemers – responsible govt doesn’t seem to be high on their list of important things.Recommend

  • Aquarian
    Apr 9, 2011 - 2:53AM

    @ maddog

    Vivek meant Iraq not Iran … :)

    US zionists are worst creature on this face of Earth. They are perpetrators of every row in this world.
    you mentioned that US executes their armed men involved in some crime !!!
    man get a life …
    Now tell me where is that “bitch” soldier who committed worst human rights violations in iraq Jails ???
    she is in texas … living happily over there …
    By the way … You are right some how … Israel dont get itself engaged in torture … it killls the innocent men women & children at the spot … what a “justice” … isnt it …
    Think about gaza …. which has been given the shape of worlds biggest Jail …
    I hope attack on innocent civilians in mid 2010 is still alive in your mind ….
    Man …
    this is US & Israel who has appointed dictators & kings on all rich countries … who serve only US orders.
    & let me tell you … US will no longer be a super power by 2020 … China will take over soon …. & this pathetic Zionist rule will come to an end ….Recommend

  • Billoo Bhaya
    Apr 9, 2011 - 2:57AM

    @Maddog Qadafhi:
    Both of you made very valid comments.

    Pakistan has a culture of impunity and when somebody says so we all go huff and puff. The SC has not convicted a single felon since they were restored. They have been pussy footing around and not enforcing the law. When Rehman Dakait, aka Rehman Malik aka Interior Minister, was about to go to jail our Educated President-NRO-10%-The Midas Touch Man immediately pardoned him as he was his NRO buddy. Note all the scams, NICL, Steel Mills, MNA-Police Foundation, Punjab Bank, Hajj, Sugar, Power, CDA, KDA, Killings and Rapes, Missing Persons, Floods and missing aid, 7000 missing Customs Containers, Land Mafia, Cement mafia, Fake Degrees mafia, etc., etc., I can fill the whole page with Scams and yet the SC and Mi Lord SC Chief Justice have not convicted and hanged a single person. That’s called IMPUNITY.

    Pakistan cannot become a State untill all these scam artists are hanged and their properties and assets repossessed. Recommend

  • Fahad Raza
    Apr 9, 2011 - 3:00AM

    @Maddog Qadafh
    “i have never heard of Israel engaging in torture” What weed are ya takin’ dumb head?
    Its has been 60+ yeas since Israel is torturing and terrorizing the state of Palestine which it occupies. in fact Israel are the inventors of modern day torture and terrorism. the first ever terrorist bombing attack was carried out by Jewish underground on David hotel in 1940s on residing British infantry in Palestine.

    Now as for the only justice league in the world, the sergeant of planet earth, the last hope for human race USA. Of course they want to paint and smear Pakistan red, nothing new or accurately true. Recommend

  • spectator
    Apr 9, 2011 - 6:20AM

    ‘I have never heard of Israel engaging in torture.’
    My brother, what happens to Palestinians is worse than torture.

    However, Pakistan’s falling into an abyss… it’s going to take a lot to get out.Recommend

  • Bolimaga Bevarsi
    Apr 9, 2011 - 7:57AM

    …and people here have the gall to point out human rights abuses to a certain neighbour. Recommend

  • KR
    Apr 9, 2011 - 8:09AM

    Welcome to Islamic Republic of Corruption, where we have Mr. 10% as a leader and everyone is acting like they are in total shock about this report. Religious Affairs Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi need to be in jail along with Rehman Malik. Problem is our corrupt politicians and government so why in the world are we blaming America, shame on us NOT them for letting it happen on our own soil. ALL these political parties are like cancer and before long there will be nothing left of our country, wake up my fellow Pakistanis, wake up Recommend

  • Ron(indian)
    Apr 9, 2011 - 8:25AM

    @vivek ramana:
    Don’t use fake indian identity. This is the dispute between US and pakistan. India is not in world politics. Today Indians have only one objective “corruption free India”. I you feel that you are an indian then support “Anna hazare’s movement” and contribute to Indian Society. Thanks.Recommend

  • anwar khan
    Apr 9, 2011 - 8:45AM

    The world should also take note of the ethnic cleansing being carried out by baloch terrorists against the punajbi civilians in balochistan for the last several years in which hundreds of innocent punjabi civilians have been brutally murdered just because they were punjabis.Over 150,000 punjabis living in balochistan for 40,50 years have been forced to flee selling their houses for pennies as the balochs have threatened to wipe out all punjabis from balochistan.

    The human rights organisations should take notice of this genocide against punjabis in balochistan.The local pakistani media has deliberately ignored this genocide & is busy crying & raising hue & cry about the missing persons all the time but no word about the atrocities against the punajbis.Recommend

  • anonymous
    Apr 9, 2011 - 8:54AM

    Funny how the world’s biggest terrorist is being critical of others! US needs to clean up its own house before going into someone else’s home! Recommend

  • Sajid Ali
    Apr 9, 2011 - 9:10AM

    what about the videos showing US soldiers killing innocent Aghan Civilians just for fun.Recommend

  • Asad Anwar
    Apr 9, 2011 - 9:15AM

    @madDOG, yes Israel do not get engaged in torture, they prepare and test new weapons on Palestinians and bomb them.. Isreal did nothing to the Ship from Turkey carrying aid for Gaza, Open your eyes and face the truth…

    Vivek wanted to Mention Iraq, i would like to add Afghanistan to that as wel, where every other day Coalition forces make a MISTAKE and bomb civilians and apolgise afterwards, killing thirty innocent and an apology of thirty seconds is enough for that..huh……

    how many of those pilots of planners have been jailed after those ill directed bombings?????

    Why the Hell is US bombing Libya???? do they have any right??? Its just a display of power.. which is very short term.. Soon USA will be sitting like a silent spectator as USSR is now a days after losing the tag of Super power..Recommend

  • tarek
    Apr 9, 2011 - 9:15AM

    Only those abuses that came in the limelight, where the soldiers were caught with their pants down.
    What about the millions killed when there was no camera watching. The US is all about creating a humanitarian image of itself abroad when it is caught with its hand in the cookie jar, but uses torture, abuse and mass civilian casualties as a state policy. Fullujah, drone strikes, carpet bombing, gauntanamo bay etc..the list is endless.Recommend

  • Asad Anwar
    Apr 9, 2011 - 9:18AM

    and Thanks VIvek for your factual commentsRecommend

  • Khalid Rahim
    Apr 9, 2011 - 9:34AM

    Are you the Baptist who lost his moral courage to defend Jesus from the hands of zionists?
    All those weasels who ran amok in Abu Gharaib prison were given a slap on the wrist.Recommend

  • Khalid Rahim
    Apr 9, 2011 - 9:59AM

    The civilian government is composed of rodents, with the weasels heading it! Since the last incident of Raymond Davis which these weasels were not able to protect the interest of their
    tamers. And the moral courage of a Minister to stand by his convictions, followed by that action taken by some senior officers of the Army to reduce the tension between two nations.
    What we now see is the shallowness of the most powerful nation that wants to protect the guilt of her citizen with impunity!Recommend

  • khan
    Apr 9, 2011 - 10:25AM

    The truth seems to hurt a lot of people. Yes, the US have their My Lai, Abu Gharaib, etc but that does not absolve us from our sins. Today, despite published eye witness accounts given by Pakistani army officers, many still deny that many thousands of East Pakistani civilians were murdered and raped by their own country’s troops. Hundreds are turning up dead and missing in Balochistan (by the way does this happen in the US, UK or Japan?) and the public in general has preferred to turn a blind eye.

    Unfortunately there is an ever present culture of impunity in Pakistan. Denying it gets us sinking further in the morass. True modern civilization begins when everyone is accountable under the law and this should apply to everyone – politicians, bureaucrats, elite businessmen. feudals and yes, even our all-powerful generals.

    The soldiers behind shameful My Lai and Abu Gharaib incident had to face the law. Can anyone provide a similar example in Pakistan? It is time to stop cribbing about others and take a realistic look at ourselves in the mirror.Recommend

  • Shahzad S. Janjua
    Apr 9, 2011 - 10:32AM

    Yes, very right John and Maddog, that they did, after they were published in the newspaper and everywhere, and that too after the incident has happened long time ago.

    And tell me how many cases are still unreported.

    And speaking of accountability, mind you it is the US which has used fake photos of Weapon of Mass Destruction in the UN to put crusade war on Iraq and throughout the world and we in Pakistan are paying the price and it is the same crusade type war back in 80’s against the Soviet by them that we are paying the price.

    So before commenting look into your ground what you have gave to the whole world. Terrorist and Terrorism Recommend

  • vivek ramana
    Apr 9, 2011 - 11:12AM

    @maddog: sorry for the mistake i meant to say iraq and u said “i have never heard of israel engaging in torture”, i will give u some reports published in gaurdian ” The Israeli internal security service, Shin Bet, used systematic torture against Palestinians and regularly lied about it, according to an Israeli government report “. if u want to know more just google it.
    @john: i do know they are in jail but it happens only after the reports were published to public. how many of us know wat is happening in US until it is published in news. CIA knows how to make up their crimes like accident.
    i dn’t like them when they interfere with others if they don’t want them.. Recommend

  • Anoop
    Apr 9, 2011 - 11:25AM

    And, some people were talking about Kashmir in Pakistan! Wonder what they will say now. Recommend

  • John
    Apr 9, 2011 - 12:10PM

    To all who rants against this report:

    Army’s all across the world go into the war zone under military code of conduct. They have certain provisions of immunity in combat operations, be it Pakistan Army or US army.

    In war certain things are not black and white. Yet, in civilian killings a good army conducts an investigation, establishes if the soldiers claim are true, and punish them as per military law.

    In prisoner abuse situations, a thorough investigation was conducted and those culprits from top to bottom went to jail.

    If one do not know about abuses/killings, then one can not punish the culprits.

    If anyone one says that what is in the report is untrue, then his / her conscience is failing.

    Acknowledging what is wrong is the first step to correction. Unfortunately, in PAK the general view is no one from outside should say anything about Pakistan, let alone criticism. This is is especially true if it comes to the army.

    All institutions of state should reflect the people of the state. That is the code.

    When Taseer’s killer got rose petal greetings in the Pakistan court by the Pakistan lawyers, the PAK institutions-court, bar association, lawyers, and ultimately the people failed the country as a whole. No one got punished, or disbarred. How can an average PAK citizen walking into the same court can expect justice from this court, and who will respect this court or the Judges or the PAK institutions that condone this action.

    This is called culture of impunity.

    Minority rights are the least of the problem for Pakistan.

    US is the most self critical society. Not perfect, yet, but better than all.

    (Pls Ignore type errors )Recommend

  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Apr 9, 2011 - 12:39PM

    For once USA is 100% rightRecommend

  • Malik
    Apr 9, 2011 - 12:55PM

    What is the legel position of US Armed Forces Guantonamo Centre which exclusively established for Terrorists (Muslims) of the so called war on terror of USA & its allies including Pakistan. What is the legel position of Drone attacks of CIA on Pakistani tribal areas. There is no public uprise against Pak Army, only foriegn funded millitents attacking on Pak Army. US’s intentions towards Pakistan now AGAIN shifting, US do not tolerating Pak Army in the region. Recommend

  • Raj
    Apr 9, 2011 - 1:06PM

    This is an example of USA’s preparedness against future blames on Pakistan and making grounds for propaganda against Armed Forces of Pakistan.Recommend

  • ABDV
    Apr 9, 2011 - 2:42PM

    @Cautious…..you need to fix up some of the mess and morass you’re having in Kashmir (and intensifying) before you can venture over to this topicRecommend

  • Roflcopter
    Apr 9, 2011 - 2:58PM

    US needs to shut up alreadyRecommend

  • Apr 9, 2011 - 4:08PM

    Kettle calling the pot black?Recommend

  • Pakistan Zindabad
    Apr 9, 2011 - 7:17PM

    US was caught with its pants down in Remond Devis case. A cold blooded murderer, a spy and a mercenary was declared deplomat by a person no less than the noble peace laureate, the President of USA, Mr Barak Hussain Obhama.
    What a shame. How much you can stoop down. You should have sided with truth if you are such a big flag bearer of truth, justice and humanity.
    Pakistan is a third world country with many weaknesses and has done some acts at the behest of USA which it should not have done but what about USA itself. Has it not killed millions in Iraq and Afghanistan to satisfy its bloated ego and fuel its industry.
    Has USA not converted security consul into pimping for crusaders!!!!
    So this report is equally applicable to USA.Recommend

  • Malik
    Apr 9, 2011 - 7:21PM

    US State Department says security
    forces operating outside the writ of
    the civilian government.

    …and who is the biggest sponsor of these security forces? US Government.

    Enough Said.Recommend

  • bvindh
    Apr 9, 2011 - 8:29PM

    @vivek ramana:
    You like Arundhati Roy a lot? Just curious.Recommend

  • vivek ramana
    Apr 10, 2011 - 1:39AM

    @bvindh: do u like hitler a lot?..but to say i dnt like her ‘caz she questions my nations integrity..i see some of us(indians) are speaking like US countrymen who doesn’t want to digest the facts.. i just said wat i felt that’s the freedom my mother india gave me and i love my country more than anything else.. just small request to my brothers dn’t make up ur mind like whoever and whatever they blame ur enemy(pak) is correct. indians are not narrow they will accept the fact thats wat my country teaches me..Recommend

  • OA
    Apr 10, 2011 - 6:19AM

    Much in the report about Pakistan and what’s happening there is true. Its a US report. Why are Pakistanis so concerned/upset? If things are really that much different why not have your own report contradicting that information and outlaying the truth as they see it. On the other hand much is true about US involvements around the world and so is the influence of special interests in shaping US policy. The question is what if anything anyone is willing to do? Improve things or simply posit blame on others?Recommend

  • OA
    Apr 10, 2011 - 6:54AM

    Here’s a novel idea worth considering:

    Government: Works for the people, education, health, infrastructure (electricity, mass transit, roads, housing) rather than stuffing their own pockets.

    Judiciary: Expounds justice rather than settling vendettas.

    Army: Defends the country from outside threats rather than running the country or several businesses.

    Police: Protect and safeguard the citizenry, rather than being an accomplice/incapacitated in most of what is going wrong all around.

    Elected Officials:Just please resign and let some capable people step forward.

    Pakistanis: Become Pakistanis rather than Baluchi, Bihari, Sindhi, Pathan, Punjabi, Christian, Ahmadi, Sunni, Shia, Salafi, Wahabi, Ahl Sunnat, Ahl Hadis, …………(oh and so many more)

    And please stand on your own two feet rather than looking for investment/handouts from all over the world and drowning everyone in debt.Recommend

  • bvindh
    Apr 13, 2011 - 10:06PM

    @vivek ramana:
    “do u like hitler a lot?”
    –It depends on Hitler’s views on India. What are they? Do you know them yourself?Recommend

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