Islamabad: A US-based rights group on Thursday
urged Pakistan to probe reports of collective punishment by
security forces of relatives of Taliban militants in an area
of the lawless northwest.
Pakistan launched a major offensive in Swat last year to
clear it of Taliban and restore government control.
"Punishing people because their family members may be
militants has become rampant in the Swat valley," Ali Dayan
Hasan, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch,
said in a statement.
He said the rights group had received numerous credible
reports about collective punishments including arbitrary
detention and forced evictions since September 2009, when the
military re-established control over the valley.
"Human Rights Watch has investigated these allegations on
the ground in Swat since February 2010 and documented scores
Dayan added: "Not only is collective punishment illegal,
it's counterproductive because it angers the very people the
government hopes to win over".
The picturesque Swat valley slipped out of government
control after a radical cleric led an uprising in July 2007,
beheading opponents, burning schools and fighting to enforce a
harsh brand of Islamic law.
Pakistan launched a blistering air and ground offensive
in the valley after militants marched out of Swat and advanced
to within 100 kilometres of the capital Islamabad in April
After heavy fighting that displaced an estimated two
million people, the military declared the region back under
army control last summer and tentative efforts have begun to
kick start development and revive the local economy.
But sporadic outbreaks of violence continue, while some
fear the Swat Taliban are regrouping elsewhere in the
First Published: Friday, July 23, 2010, 00:19