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Wednesday, 15 March, 2000, 12:08 GMT
Pakistani rights abuse 'widespread'
Report's authors at news conference
The report condemned violence against women and minorities
Women and minorities in Pakistan face widespread discrimination and human rights abuse, a newly-released report says.

The report by Pakistan's Human Rights Commission also calls upon the country's military rulers to restore democracy.

More than 1,000 women died in the country last year, victims of honour killings, the report says.

Grim picture
Honour killings claim 1,000
1,000 killed in ethnic and religious violence each year
50% of population denied education and healthcare
Political rights denied
Most of the killings were carried out by the victims' brothers and husbands. The practice is used to punish women who are said to have brought dishonour to their families.

In the eastern state of Punjab, more than 15% of the victims were minors.

The report also said more than half of the population were being denied basic education and health facilities.

Democracy

The commission said the military takeover in the country last October meant that Pakistanis had been denied the right to take part in political activities.


Fundamentalist activism targetted liberalism of all kinds

Human Rights Report, 1999


"We will say please restore democracy as soon as possible," Asma Jahangir, a human rights lawyer and member of the commission said.

Ms Jahangir welcomed a plan to hold elections to local bodies later in this year bus said that the move should be part of a general democratic process.

"The military regimes in the past have used the local bodies to bypass parliament," she said.

Sharif criticised

It also criticised the ousted government headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, saying that it carried out a systematic campaign to undermine parliament, the judiciary and the press.

Mr Sharif was also accused of encouraging religious extremism in the country.

Nearly 1,000 people died each year in Pakistan throughout the 1990s because of ethnic and religious violence.

The 1990s "saw a surge of religious violence," the report said.

"Fundamentalist activism targetted liberalism of all kinds," it said.

"It rose in hateful denunciation of campaigners for peace, for policies opposed to militarism and nuclearisation and for a more open and democratic society.

It made women more vulnerable and "sanctified women's subordination," it said.
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22 Sep 99 | South Asia
Pakistan honour killings condemned
27 Aug 99 | South Asia
Bride burning 'kills hundreds'
30 Nov 99 | South Asia
Analysis: Justice under scrutiny
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