Pakistan’s rights watchdog on Saturday expressed “grave apprehensions” over the prevailing human rights and security situation in the country’s largest city which it said has aggravated in recent months.
“Three years of the Rangers operation in Karachi have been completed this month. There is no doubt that the incidents of targeted killing and extortion have fallen significantly; however, cases of extra judicial killing and torture continue to be reported. It is a matter of great dismay and concern that little has been done to systematically investigate these cases,” the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said in a statement.
“Complaints of enforced disappearances in the city are on the rise, with many people targeted because of their political affiliation. Even the figures released by the officially constituted commission of inquiry into enforced disappearances indicate the extent of the problem. The report of the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance (WGEID) has also cited complaints of enforced disappearances, especially of those believed to be associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM),” it said.
HRCP said its concerns have risen greatly over the increasingly expanding role of the paramilitary Rangers in the city’s political affairs, particularly the tactics used to push MQM against the wall.
“The militant wings of political parties, MQM included, seem to have been silenced for now, but not brought to justice. How and when the next episode of factional fighting unfolds might well determine the scale of any recurrence in large-scale violence in Karachi. The people are justified in inquiring how any gains made through the Karachi operation could be sustained,” it said.
The commission further said lack of representative and responsible governance in Karachi, as indeed in other major cities of the country, is having an adverse effect on the basic entitlements of the people.
“This state of governance has also affected functioning of the local government in the city. Sanitation has been grossly ignored. Traffic disorder is getting worse by the day. At the same time, the people’s problems of unemployment, food, health and security are aggravating. It is not difficult to understand why some might find the situation in Karachi ‘appalling’ and ‘at a breaking point’. Overall, a display of responsive governance and enabling the local government to operate effectively is vital to stem the rot and lead to due attention being paid to people’s problems,” it said.