Amnesty International slams Pak Army over human rights abuse
Islamabad/London: Amnesty International on Thursday accused the Pakistan Army of widespread human rights abuses in the country's restive tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, saying several laws were being misused in the fight against Taliban and other militants.
In a new report titled "The hands of cruelty: Abuses by armed forces and Taliban in Pakistan's tribal areas", the rights group said troops arbitrarily detained people for long periods without charge and with no access to due process of law.
The report, based on over 100 interviews with victims of rights violations, witnesses, lawyers, officials and militants, further alleged that cases of death and torture had been documented and relatives of some detainees had no information about their fate for extended periods of time.
The group alleged that the bodies of some detainees had been returned to their families or dumped in remote parts of the tribal belt.
"Detainees who are released alive and their families are threatened with dire consequences if they speak publicly about their treatment in detention," it said.
Amnesty said both the colonial-era Frontier Crimes Regulation and new security laws were being misused by troops engaged in operations against the Taliban and other militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which consists of seven semi-autonomous agencies.
The Pakistan Army rejected the allegations levelled by London-based Amnesty International, with a spokesman describing the group's report as "a pack of lies and part of a sinister propaganda campaign against Pakistan and its armed forces".
The spokesman said in a statement sent to the media: "It is a biased report based on fabricated stories twisted to serve an agenda".
Amnesty also criticised the Taliban for various rights abuses, including the killing of captured soldiers and civilians accused of spying, and acknowledged the challenge Pakistan faces in fighting militants along the border with Afghanistan.
The group said it was not aware of any serving or retired personnel from the Army, law enforcement agencies or intelligence agencies being prosecuted for alleged involvement in illegal detentions, torture or other offences.
It contended that the lack of justice is fuelling a rights crisis in the tribal region.
Amnesty recommended that the Pakistan should repeal the Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation from the tribal belt and repeal or reform the Frontier Crimes Regulation to bring it in line with international rights obligations.
It further called for the jurisdiction of high courts and parliament to be extended to the tribal areas.
There should be prompt, independent and thorough investigations into all cases of deaths in custody and allegations of torture, it said.
The army has conducted several operations across the tribal belt in the past three years to flush out fighters of some Taliban factions.
The security forces have finalised peace deals with some warlords.
The militants have carried out scores of suicide attacks and bombings across Pakistan that have killed thousands of people.