HRCP concerns grow over rights situation in Karachi

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed grave apprehensions over the prevailing human rights concerns in Karachi being aggravated by new problems cropping up in recent months.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the Executive Council of the Commission said that it had decided to hold its autumn meeting in Karachi this time due to the gravity of the situation developing in the city. HRCP stated: 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 extrajudicial 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.

Complaints of enforced disappearance 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 enquiry into enforced disappearance indicate the extent of the problem in this part of the country. The report of the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance (WGEID) has also cited complaints of enforced disappearance, especially of those believed to be associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

Our concerns have risen greatly over an increasingly expanding role of the 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. In that respect, it is vital that details regarding prosecution of suspects and conviction rates are shared. HRCP is disappointed that efforts have not been made to strengthen civilian policing capacity in the city. We implore the authorities to start remedying that even at this late stage.

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 the 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.

Source: Human Rights Commissions of Pakistan