Pakistan accused of abuses

Pakistan's top rights group has accused the country's military-led government of "gross human rights violations" in Baluchistan province, where it said a "war-like situation" prevailed.

    Baluchistan is home to Pakistan's main gas fields

    The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) also rejected government claims that the military was not involved in actions against the civilian population.

    The group said it had "received evidence that action by armed forces had led to deaths and injuries among civilians". It also said that "populations had also been subjected to indiscriminate bombing" in a crackdown in the southwestern province launched last month, after rocket attacks by tribal fighters battling for greater autonomy and control of natural gas fields. 

    The HRCP report, released on Sunday, said up to 85% of the 22,000 to 26,000 inhabitants of Dera Bugti had fled their homes after the town was shelled by paramilitary forces. 

    Executions

    "There were alarming accounts of summary executions, some allegedly carried out by paramilitary forces. HRCP received credible evidence that showed such killings had taken place," it said. 

    "Across Baluchistan, the HRCP team found widespread instances of 'disappearance', of torture inflicted on people held in custody, and on those fleeing from their houses"

    Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

    "Across Baluchistan, the HRCP team found widespread instances of 'disappearance', of torture inflicted on people held in custody, and on those fleeing from their houses."

    However, HRCP chairperson Asma Jahangir told a news conference that interviews with local people had not provided evidence to prove a claim by Baluch opposition politicians that the military had used poison gas.

    Call for ceasefire

    "The security forces, as well as the decision-makers, have remained completely unaccountable for the gross human rights violations in the province, including responsibility for the internally displaced people," the report said.

    "There is a war-like situation, militarisation and politico-economic conflict in Baluchistan."

    A Baluchistan government spokesman dismissed the report as "one-sided" and denied allegations that troops were involved in executions or firing on civilians.

    Abdur Raziq Bugti said: "Armed forces are deployed in the area for the security of oil and gas installations."

    Pakistan cracked down on rebels
    after a rocket attack on Musharraf

    The HRCP called for a ceasefire in the province and demanded
    that parliament meet in a special session to ensure a "sustained process of negotiations and dialogue". 

    The Pakistani military launched a crackdown against rebels in Baluchistan after a rocket attack on 14 December during a visit by Pervez Musharraf, the president, to the town of Kohlu. 

    Baluch nationalists say almost 200 people have been killed. The government has not commented on casualties but analysts say the nationalists' figure could be exaggerated. 

    The crackdown has coincided with the announcement of plans to privatise two gas distribution firms in Baluchistan, which is home to Pakistan's main gas fields.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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