The security situation of the country has dominated the findings of the annual report of the Human Right Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) for 2010. From drone attacks, suicide bombings, the situation in Balochistan to attacks on minorities, all these incidents are manifestations of a peculiar doctrine adopted by the security establishment of Pakistan that, on the one hand, nurtured non-state jihadis to be used as proxies in neighbouring countries for strategic purposes, and on the other hand, brutally suppressed local dissent. Those jihadis have now turned against their benefactors and unleashed a reign of terror on Pakistani soil. Year 2010 saw a series of attacks on shrines and other ‘soft’ targets. Balochistan has seen disappearances and targeted killings of political and social activists at the hands of the country’s security forces while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the tribal areas have become a battleground of militants and the military in which local populations have been displaced or become targets of crossfire.
Arguably, the pursuit of the elusive ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan is very much on the security agenda of Pakistan, despite the fact that the people of this country have had to pay a very high cost in terms of life and property, militarisation of society, rising intolerance for any kind of dissent or difference of opinion, and attacks on minorities. Pakistan saw the worst attack on Ahmedi worship places last year on May 28, which killed nearly 100 worshippers who had congregated for Friday prayers. The HRCP report presents other harrowing details of mistreatment of minorities at the hands of militants, the state, and society in general in different parts of the country. The public attitude of indifference and persecution of minorities is replicated at the level of the state.
In this climate, it is but natural that those holding a monopoly over force abuse their powers and indulge in human rights violations. The issue of extra-judicial killings in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has caught international attention. This is a very sad picture of a country that invests heavily in defence at the cost of millions of disadvantaged people but remains an essentially insecure and fragile state. It is time the movers and shakers of this country did some introspection and considered if this was what the Muslims of united India took the plunge for and carved out a separate country? – Dailytimes