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UK flays Pakistan on human rights

Pakistan has been named in Britain Foreign Office`s latest quarterly update on human rights in "countries of concern".



London: With "disturbing" reports of violence against minorities in Pakistan and incidents of "press censorship", the country has been named in Britain`s Foreign
Office`s latest quarterly update on human rights in "countries of concern".

The 2010-2011 Human Rights and Democracy Report produced by the Foreign Office highlights the UK`s human rights policies and concerns on key issues, and features 26 countries of concern where it has the "most serious wide-ranging human rights concerns".

The 26 countries in the list include Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, Syria and Saudi Arabia.

Stating that the previous three months had seen "some positive action" in Pakistan on human rights, the report, however, noted that "there continue to be reports of violence against minorities and incidents of press censorship".

In this connection, it mentioned the killing of three Hindu doctors (all brothers) on November 8 in their clinic in Chak town in Sindh province.

On October 4, 13 Hazara Shia Muslims were executed by gunmen, it added.

The report added: "There have been a series of incidents over censorship of the media and electronic communications.

"Following their documentary series `Secret Pakistan`, which criticised Pakistan`s role in countering terrorism and in Afghanistan, the BBC has been taken off air by cable operators across Pakistan".

In November, access to the online news site Baloch Hal was
reportedly blocked by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority
for allegedly publishing "anti-Pakistan" material, the report
said.

The site covered human rights violations, including
enforced disappearances.The Foreign Office report added that the Pakistan
Telecommunication Authority also attempted to ban the use of
nearly 1,700 "obscene" words from text messages, though the
authority was now reportedly reconsidering following public
complaints and ridicule.

On the assassination of Punjab governor Salman Taseer for
his stance against the abuse of the blasphemy legislation, the
report noted that in October, the Anti-Terrorism Court in
Rawalpindi convicted Mumtaz Qadri.
"While the UK opposes the death sentence handed down in
the case, we welcome the conviction.

"A number of religious parties protested against the court
decision and threats against the life of the magistrate who
awarded the sentence forced him to flee the country", the
report added.

The Foreign Office said that in another disturbing
incident, on November 13, a 17-year-old boy from Lahore was
reportedly abducted by the police from outside his home, hung
upside down and tortured before being thrown outside the
police station.

However, the report noted that in the previous three
months there had been "some positive action" on human rights
issues by the Pakistani government, such as withdrawing
reservations to the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR) and United Nations Convention Against
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (CAT)
following sustained lobbying from the UK and international
community.

PTI

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