WASHINGTON (AFP) – Human rights in Pakistan worsened in 2007 despite President Pervez Musharraf’s repeated pledges to foster democracy in the key US ally, a State Department report said.
“Despite President Musharraf’s stated commitment to democratic transition, Pakistan’s human rights situation deteriorated during much of 2007,” the department’s annual report on human rights said.
Musharraf imposed a state of emergency on his country in November and sacked some 60 judges, just days before the Supreme Court was to rule on the legality of his new presidential term, won while he was still army chief.
“Under emergency provisions, Pakistani authorities also arrested approximately 6,000 opposition political party workers, human rights advocates, lawyers, and judges,” the report said.
By the end of 2007 “there still were 11 suspended judges and three lawyers under house arrest,” it added, also highlighting restrictions on the media.
But the report, which included a separate 60-page section on Pakistan, did say that on the positive side Musharraf had resigned as the chief of army staff in November and went on to lift the state of emergency the following month.
Pakistan has been rocked by violence since the February 18 parliamentary polls, won by the opposition parties of the assassinated opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
The two opposition parties have agreed to form a coalition and restore the judges who could threaten Musharraf’s grip on power, with Musharraf reportedly having no plans to quit.
Musharraf on Tuesday summoned the new parliament to meet on March 17 — finally setting up a showdown that could potentially further destabilize the nuclear-armed nation.
Pakistan was cited in the State Department’s 2007 Human Rights Report as a country where human rights had deteriorated along with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Little or no progress was said to have been made in neighboring Afghanistan.