UNHCR slams Pakistan over safety of minorities and journalists
 Source : NewsBharati  Date : 11-Sep-2017

Geneva, September 11: United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Monday took a veiled dig at Pakistan for committing brutal murder of human rights in Country.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said that the authorities often encourage intolerance for minorities or minority views, with sometimes deadly consequences in Pakistan.

Delivering the opening statement at the 36th session of the Human Rights Council, he further said that many journalists and human rights defenders face daily threats of violence in Pakistan. Even allegations of blasphemy, or suggestions that blasphemy laws require revision to comply with the right to freedom of thought and religion can lead to vigilante violence, he added.

“In addition, the Government has used vague and excessive legislation on the digital space, and regulations regarding NGO activities, to limit critical voices and shrink the democratic space.”

“Violence against women remains extremely widespread, including forced marriage, acid attacks and forced and child marriage”, Hussein said.

Notably, many journalists increasingly practice self-censorship, fearing retribution from security forces, military intelligence, and militant groups. Media outlets in 2016 remained under pressure to avoid reporting on or criticizing human rights violations in counterterrorism operations. The Taliban and other armed groups threatened media outlets and targeted journalists and activists for their work.

In January, the Pakistan Rangers entered and, without a warrant, searched the Karachi house of Salman Masood, a New York Times journalist. In May, four unidentified gunmen killed Khurram Zaki in Karachi. Zaki had been publicly critical of extremist cleric Abdul Aziz and militant sectarian groups, and had been receiving threats.

Also, At least 19 people remained on death row after being convicted under Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy law and hundreds awaited trial. Most of those facing blasphemy are members of religious minorities, often victimized by these charges due to personal disputes.

In March, at least 74 people were killed and 338 others injured in a suicide bombing in a public park in Lahore. The primary target of the attack was Christians celebrating Easter.