Published — Friday 14 December 2012
Last update 14 December 2012 6:15 am
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan military and the Taleban are guilty of rights abuses with a lack of justice fuelling a crisis in the tribal areas on the Afghan border, Amnesty International said yesterday.
The military is using new security laws and a colonial-era penal system to act with impunity in the northwestern, semi-autonomous region where Taleban and Al-Qaeda-linked violence is concentrated, the watchdog said.
A spokesman for the military rejected the allegations as a “pack of lies and part of a sinister propaganda campaign” against the armed forces.
The military has arbitrarily detained thousands for long periods with little or no access to due process, said the report, based on interviews with victims, witnesses, relatives, lawyers, officials and militants.
Cases of death and torture have been documented, detainees are not brought before court and relatives have no idea of their fate, sometimes for extended periods of time, said the London-based human rights group.
“Almost every week the bodies of those arrested by the armed forces are being returned to their families or reportedly found dumped across the tribal areas,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty’s deputy Asia-Pacific director.
“The government must immediately reform the deeply flawed legal system in the tribal areas that perpetuates the cycle of violence,” she added.
Although judges have sought to investigate the fate of people who go missing, Amnesty said no military personnel had been prosecuted for alleged torture, enforced disappearance or deaths in custody.
A spokesman for the Pakistan military refuted the allegations, calling it a “biased report based on fabricated stories twisted to serve an agenda”.
Amnesty also singled out the Taleban and other militant groups for targeting human rights activists, aid workers, journalists and alleged spies.
It also reported that the Taleban had brutally executed captured Pakistani troops in contravention of international humanitarian law.
Separately, a government official said several hundred students have rallied against naming their college after an activist schoolgirl shot by the Taleban, saying the move would be a security risk.
The Taleban shot and wounded 15-year-old Malala Yousufzai in October in Mingora, the main town in the northwest Swat Valley, because of her criticism of the militant group and her advocacy for girls’ education.
Kamran Rehman, a senior official in Swat, says about 300 students took part in a protest Wednesday at Malala Government Degree College in Mingora.
Rehman said he was investigating whether any particular political group was responsible for the protest.