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The BBC's Zaffar Abbas in Islamabad
"Taking steps to develop a true democratic culture"
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Angelica Partak of Amnesty International
"Human rights concerns are finally being taken seriously"
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Friday, 21 April, 2000, 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK
Musharraf pledge on human rights

General Musharraf is presented with a human rights report
Pakistan's military leader, General Pervez Musharraf, has pledged to curb human rights abuses against women, children and religious minorities.

He condemned the practice of "honour killings" and said he would try to end the abuse of blasphemy laws.


Killing in the name of honour is murder

General Pervez Musharraf
The general was addressing a government-sponsored conference on human rights in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

He said that once these measures were in place he would call general elections, but stopped short of setting a date.

'Honour killings'

General Musharraf said the practice of killing women in the name of honour - prevalent among tribal communities in Pakistan - would be treated as murder.

"Killing in the name of honour is murder and will be treated as such," he said.


Women have campaigned hard for their rights
"Such actions do not find any place in our religion or law," he added.

More than 1,000 Pakistani women were the victims of honour killings last year, a report by the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said recently.

The general said "a permanent and independent commission" would be set up next month to protect women's rights.

Reforms

General Musharraf announced that no cases would be registered by police under Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws, until they were first investigated by local officials.

Human rights groups have demanded a repeal in the laws which, they say, are used to persecute religious minorities.

Anyone found guilty of blasphemy against Islam can receive the death penalty.

He also promised reforms in the police system and announced an end to the use of fetters on prisoners.

"We believe this tool of indignity, which was an antiquity from our colonial past, can find no place in a civilised society," the general said.

General Musharraf also announced measures for the systematic elimination of child labour, and said steps would be taken to completely abolish the practice of bonded labour.

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See also:

15 Mar 00 | South Asia
Pakistani rights abuse 'widespread'
22 Sep 99 | South Asia
Pakistan honour killings condemned
27 Aug 99 | South Asia
Bride burning 'kills hundreds'
08 Sep 99 | South Asia
Pakistan wants action on child labour
09 Sep 98 | Monitoring
Pakistan defends blasphemy laws
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