Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1990

Pakistan's political landscape changed dramatically on August
6 when Pakistani President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, pursuant to his
constitutional powers, dismissed the elected People's Pakistan
Party (PPP) Government of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and
dissolved the National Assembly and the provincial assemblies.
The President called for elections on October 24 for the
National Assembly and October 27 for the provincial
assemblies. Caretaker national and provincial governments
were formed. A state of emergency was declared to enable the
President to act in the absence of the assemblies. Special
tribunals, as provided for under the law, were established to
try politicians accused of corruption or misconduct while in
office during the period since December 1988. Civilian
administration and the courts continued to function, and the
basic rights guaranteed under the Constitution were
untouched. The elections were judged by foreign observers to
have been generally free and fair. A new Government was
formed in November, led by Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif,
leader of the Islamic Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), and the state of
emergency laws, which had not been used, were lifted.
Responsibility for internal security rests primarily with the
police, although the army was called upon to help restore
order during civil disturbances numerous times in 1990.
Paramilitary forces are charged with maintaining law and order
in frontier areas. Police forces are under provincial
control, as are paramilitary forces when assisting in a law
and order situation; both forces were responsible for human
rights abuses in 1990. The military, although impatient with
the problems of Pakistan's emerging democracy and widely seen
as partly responsible for the dissolution of the Bhutto
Government, strongly and publicly supported the holding of
elections on October 24 and 27.
Private businesses operate freely in most sectors of the
economy, though public corporations play a leading role in
heavy manufacturing and finance. The Constitution assures the
right to private property. An ongoing International Monetary
Fund structural adjustment program has prompted some unpopular
austerity measures, such as price increases for electricity
and gas.
In 1990 the Bhutto Government made progress in some aspects of
human rights, but broke little new ground. The review of
martial law cases and the release of political prisoners was
completed. Most travel restrictions were lifted, passports
were endorsed for all countries except Israel and South
Africa, and Pakistanis travelled abroad without first
obtaining government permission. Human rights groups
continued to enjoy access to officials and to the media and
there continued to be considerable freedom of expression by
the press and political organizations.
In other areas, human rights abuses continued. Kidnapings and
random violence plagued Sindh and the tribal areas, and
similar incidents were reported in Punjab and the Frontier.
Provincial government forces used excessive force in
responding to such incidents. Ethnic tensions, primarily in
Sindh, exacerbated the problems caused by strong political,
constitutional, and regional differences; the result of these
differences, plus the weakness of central and provincial law
enforcement agencies and the superabundance of weapons, was a
serious deterioration in law and order, with a decidedly
negative impact upon human rights. The arbitrary detention,
arrest, torture, and other abuse of prisoners and detainees by
the police continued, as did the failure of authorities to
prosecute and punish those responsible. The caretaker
Government attempted to use the judicial process against the
PPP by accusing only its leaders of corruption. Religious
minorities faced some discrimination and harassment. Social
and legal constraints kept women in a subordinate position in
society and limited reporting of violence against them.
Significant restraints remained on worker rights.
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
      a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There was no evidence of government or government-instigated
political killings, but extrajudicial killings, usually
resulting from physical abuse of prisoners and detainees by
police, continued largely unchecked and unpunished (see
Section I.e.). Ethnic tensions also resulted in a form of
political killing, particularly in Sindh, as rival
ethnic/political parties and organizations and their student
wings frequently clashed, leaving scores dead and injured.
Because of the random and often spontaneous nature of these
incidents, the political connections of many of the
perpetrators, and the weak police establishment and the
similar weakness of lower courts, the authorities have met
with little success in preventing this type of violence or
punishing those responsible. This situation in Sindh became a
major element in political differences between the President
and the Army, and the central and provincial governments prior
to the August dismissal of the Bhutto government.
      b. Disappearance
There were no reports of government-instigated disappearance.
Kidnapings by highwaymen for ransom occurred frequently.
There were also a large number of kidnapings by rival
ethnic/political parties. Perpetrators were rarely
apprehended. Most victims were eventually released.
      c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
There continued to be persuasive evidence of misuse of police
powers. Police and jailers often use force to elicit
confessions, evidence, and incrimination of others. Beating,
whipping the soles of the feet with rubber whips, sexual
assault, and prolonged isolation occur in Pakistani jails.
When deaths occur, explanations of suicide are used by police
to cover up evidence of torture. Human rights activists
reported that at least five prisoners died while in police
custody between January and August in Karachi. In Punjab, 12
such cases were reported between January and July. In October
the Sindh Provincial Government investigated the case of a
Karachi man, arrested on a counterfeiting charge, who died
while in police custody. There have been reports that
prisoners alleged to have been killed in shootouts may have
been victims of police torture. On July 3, the Punjab police
arrested and allegedly tortured a member of the PPP student
wing, and later reported that the student was killed in a
The threat of abuse is frequently used to extort money from
prisoners and their families, and whole families have been
held to force subjects of arrest warrants to surrender.
There are instances of abuse of women in police custody at a
stationhouse or who go to a police station to file a report or
inquire after a detainee; this abuse is often unreported due
to societal taboos and family pressure. There are few
policewomen to perform matron duties. Some women under
detention are reportedly coerced by police officers to trade
sexual favors for their release, or the women are simply
raped. Women in prison faced similar kinds of abuse. In
October a case was filed against prison officials in
Sheikhupura accused of raping two female inmates. Upon
release, women are often ostracized by their family and
friends and barred from their homes.
Police accused of abuses are generally released on bail or
quietly transferred to another district. In August 1989, the
Federal Ministry of Interior established an office to monitor
instances of arbitrary arrest, brutality, and extortion within
the police forces. According to an official, the office
received 14 complaints in its first year of operation. Twelve
of these complaints were referred to the provincial
governments. In Karachi, a citizens-police liaison committee
also exists. There is no evidence that further action was
taken by any of the provincial governments regarding
individual complaints.
There have been persistent and credible reports that some
ethnic and political parties have tortured political
opponents, and, in some cases, used torture to enforce party
discipline among their own members. In February a round of
abductions and counterabductions of PPP and Mohajir Qaumi
Movement (MQM) student activists, primarily in Karachi,
resulted in incidents of torture and deaths on each side.
Both sides presented graphic photographs and videos to the
press. The Pakistan Army Corps Commander arranged for a
hostage swap between the two sides, freeing about 20
abductees. Neither side publicly disavowed or expelled from
the party those involved, and no criminal cases were filed
against any of the abductors. There were also credible
reports of the torture of PPP supporters, while under
detention, by the Sindh caretaker government.
The Hadood Ordinances, promulgated by the central Government
in 1979, provide harsh punishments for violating the Islamic
code of behavior. They apply to Muslims and non-Muslims
alike, but weigh most heavily on women. The Bhutto
administration, although expressing concern, took no steps to
introduce legislation to repeal or amend the ordinances. A
woman who reports a case of rape to the authorities or files
for a divorce can find herself charged with adultery under
these ordinances. The predominantly male police force
reportedly uses the Hadood Ordinances to threaten people on
the basis of personal and political animosities. The
Committee for the Repeal of the Hadood Ordinances estimates
that 3,000 women are in jails in Pakistan awaiting trial under
this law. In August, 119 women were in trial status in Lahore
under the Hadood Ordinances. It is estimated that two-thirds
of the female prisoners in Karachi and Lahore are awaiting
trial or are imprisoned under these ordinances.
Although extended imprisonment is the most common punishment
for those convicted under the Ordinances, there was a report
that a man was administered a flogging of 20 lashes in
December 1989 in Karachi after being convicted of adultery and
sentenced by a Shari'a (Islamic law) court. There have been
reports of other floggings, but no punishments involving
stoning or amputation are reported to have been carried out
under the Ordinances.
Three classes of prison facilities exist. Class "C"
cells—which generally hold common criminals, suspected
terrorists, and low-level political workers—are the worst.
They often have dirt floors, no furnishings, and poor quality
food, and the use of handcuffs and fetters is common.
Prisoners in these cells reportedly suffer the most abuse,
such as beatings and being forced to kneel for long periods.
After the dissolution of the provincial governments in August,
former provincial officials were reportedly held in class "C"
accommodations. Conditions in "B" and "A" cells are markedly
better, with the latter reserved for "prominent" persons.
Official attention has focused on improving jail conditions,
and human rights activists say that conditions in urban
prisons have improved. In May a Jails Reform Committee,
formed by the Minister of Interior to improve the living
conditions of prisoners, made several nonbinding
recommendations to the provincial governments. It is unclear
whether the Committee will continue to exist under the new
      d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Pakistani law permits detention of persons suspected of
threatening public order and safety for 30 days under court
order. Such court orders are renewable for 30 days at a time,
up to a total of 90 days, if the Government can demonstrate
that the detainee threatens public safety. Under the law,
detainees must be informed expeditiously of the reason for
their detention, but this requirement is not always met.
There have been repeated allegations of arbitrary arrests
during attempts to quell communal violence. The majority of
people detained in such operations are released in a matter of
hours or 1 or 2 days, but cases have been reported of
detentions lasting weeks or months. Most detainees are
released only after the situation that prompted the preventive
detention has passed. During 1990 the PPP, caretaker, and the
IJI provincial governments in Sindh made liberal use of the
Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance (MPO) , arresting
hundreds of ethnic and political activists prior to and after
clashes in Karachi and Hyderabad. The MPO was also used by
the Punjab government after similar clashes in Punjab.
Although many people were undoubtedly arrested because of
their political activities, others picked up by police were
criminals who were politically active. There have been
repeated and sometimes credible allegations that PPP activists
and candidates were falsely arrested by the provinical
caretaker government in Sindh prior to the elections. Former
detainees claim that prisoners under preventive detention
frequently are held incommunicado.
In 1989 federal authorities detained former Provincial Chief
Minister Fazle Haq without charge for 3 months before he was
released by order of the Supreme Court. G.M. Syed, leader of
the Jeay Sindh political party (a Sindhi nationalist party),
was held under house arrest in Karachi after members of his
political party burned the Pakistani flag in Sukkur . He and
his followers were charged with sedition and desecration of
the national flag and detained, but not brought to trial. In
September charges were dropped by the Sindh caretaker
government and he was released, as were some of his followers.
Officials of both the PPP and the IJI governments, at both the
federal and provincial level, continued to harass their
political opponents by filing criminal charges of dubious
credibility against them, obliging them to seek bail. The
police sometimes detain citizens without charge in order to
extort payment for their release.
Exile is not used by the Government as a means of political
      e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The civil judicial system, modeled after the British system,
provides for an open trial, cross-examination, representation
by an attorney, and appeal of sentences. Attorneys are
appointed for indigents in capital cases. There are no
juries. Owing to the limited number of judges, the heavy
backlog of cases, and outdated court procedures, cases can
drag on for years.
A political impasse between the federal and Punjab governments
has blocked the appointment of judges in that province to
succeed those who have retired or died. A large number of
seats on the Lahore High Court remain vacant. Scores of
positions in the lower magistracy remain unfilled, which
further delays the judicial process. Karachi human rights
activists believe there are dozens of people awaiting trial in
Sindh jails who have been held for periods longer than the
sentence they would receive if convicted.
In some cases, although provided for by law, bail was
arbitrarily denied. Human rights groups complain that bail is
often set at unreasonably high levels for indigent
Although the courts were undeniably under some pressure from
the executive during the Zia period, the judiciary decided a
number of important cases against the Government. The high
courts displayed continued independence during the Bhutto
administration. However, a September decision by the
President not to extend the limited appointment of a Peshawar
High Court justice, who ruled that the Peshawar provincial
assembly should not have been dissolved on August 6, led to
concern about executive pressure on the judiciary.
Human rights activists charge that magistrates and police are
under pressure to achieve a high number and high percentage of
convictions and reportedly persuade persons in custody to
plead guilty without informing them of the consequences.
Magistrates can be threatened with transfer by politically
influential persons. Magistrates also perform a variety of
administrative functions for the provincial government in
addition to their judicial duties. In July a Lahore police
superintendent decided to take matters into his own hands and
"Islamize" trial and punishment; 18 men, accused of viewing a
pornographic film and remanded without trial to police
custody, were taken in handcuffs to a local mosque where, with
the imam's blessing, a public flogging was administered by
several assistant superintendents of police.
The special Shari'a courts operate in a manner similar to
ordinary civilian courts. They try offenses relating to the
enforcement of the Hadood Ordinances and also rule on whether
laws are offensive to Islam. However, human rights monitors
expressed concern over two court decisions which they perceive
as eroding the secular legal concepts embodied in the Pakistan
Penal Code (PPC). In one such decision, the Federal Shari'a
Court announced on October 3 that death must be the
punishment for anyone who is convicted of intentionally
uttering contemptuous remarks or offering insult, in any way,
to the Prophet Muhammad, or to any of the prophets. The
unanimous decision was in response to a petition challenging
the alternate punishment of life imprisonment for the offense,
as contained in Section 295C of the PPC. The Shari'a Court,
which has the authority to order the Government to modify emy
law to bring it into conformity to Islam, directed the
Government to do so in this case. According to the ruling, if
the Government does not act before April 30, 1991, the words
"or imprisonment for life" in Section 295C of the PPC shall
cease to have effect from that day.
The Court's ruling requiring the death penalty could be
applied to Pakistan's Ahmadi community whose members have been
charged with blaspheming the prophet because they do not
subscribe to the general tenet of Islam that declares Muhammad
was the last prophet.
In a second major modification of the code, in September the
President promulgated an ordinance, replacing portions of the
PPC that had been found repugnant to Islam in an earlier
Shari'a court decision. The ordinance introduced the Islamic
concepts of Qisas (roughly an "eye for an eye") and Diyat
("blood money") into the criminal justice system.
The Ordinance, which came into effect in October, allows
compensation to be paid to a victim's family in place of
punishment and permits the victim's family the right to
determine the severity, if any, of punishment. In November
the country's transporters went on strike to protest the new
ordinance, which also levied a stiff penalty on any driver
convicted of manslaughter through negligent driving. Also in
November, the first case was decided under the ordinance when
a Lahore court acquitted three men accused of murder after
they paid compensation to the heirs of their victim. Human
rights activists have expressed concern that the changes will
allow wealthy persons accused of a crime to buy their
Cases referred to the Shari'a courts are heard jointly by
Islamic scholars and judges from the civilian court system who
usually employ ordinary criminal procedures. Both judges and
attorneys must be Muslim and be familiar with Islamic law.
Defendants in the Shari'a courts are entitled to bail and
lawyers of their choice.
In 1987 the Government established special courts to provide
speedy trials in cases involving "offenses sensational _ in
character or shocking to public morality, creating panic, or
an atmosphere of fear and anxiety among the public." Cases
involving bomb blasts, sabotage, highway robberies, banditry,
or kidnaping may be brought before these courts, and the
Government may transfer cases from any other court to a
special court.
Critics, including many lawyers and human rights activists,
express concern about the special courts. First, the accused
may be hampered from preparing an adequate defense and calling
witnesses because of the short time allocated before the
trial. Second, the decision to refer a case to this system is
an arbitrary one, made by senior officials in the provincial
government. The criteria for deciding which cases can be
tried under these courts is broad enough to enable provincial
authorities to abuse the system. Government officials and
some attorneys argue that, in spite of their disadvantages,
these courts are necessary to circumvent the judicial backlog;
that all requirements of the rules of evidence still apply,
including the right to counsel; and that the judges must meet
the same standard as those appointed to a high court. They
note that decisions may be appealed to the Supreme Court.
In September 1989, the Lahore High Court held that "speedy"
courts were constitutional. However, the Court decided that
the ordinance issued by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in
November 1988 had expired in February 1989 since the National
Assembly had not moved to ratify it. The "speedy" trial
courts in Punjab then ceased operations. In May the Punjab
government announced that it was establishing "special courts"
to hear cases involving particularly heinous crimes or
terrorist activities. The press reported a number of
convictions in these courts, usually for illegal possession of
arms. Five special trial courts operate in Sindh, hearing
terrorist and banditry cases. Persons tried in these courts
are charged with violent criminal offenses, not nonviolent or
political offenses.
After the dissolution of the Bhutto government. President
Ghulam Ishaq Khan, citing a 1977 law, established special
tribunals to try members of the previous federal and
provincial governments on criminal and corruption charges.
Critics pointed out that only members of the Bhutto
government, all of whom belong to the PPP, were charged with
corruption and misconduct, while no members of the other
political parties were accused. The actual conduct of the
special tribunals, headed by judges from the high courts, has
been seen by lawyers, human rights activists, politicians, and
journalists as balanced and apparently fair. As of year's
end, no politician had been convicted of wrongdoing, and
therefore disqualified by the tribunals. Although the new
Government has announced its commitment to continuing the
process of accountability, how the tribunals will proceed
remains unclear.
Appeals of the 1986 death sentences against four Ahmadi
defendants, whose convictions in 1985 by martial law courts in
two separate murder cases raised serious human rights
questions, are still pending. The death sentences were
commuted to life imprisonment as part of the Bhutto
administration's amnesty program.
Before martial law was lifted in 1985, the Parliament passed
the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution which withdrew from
the civilian judiciary the right to review the actions of
martial law authorities and courts. Three petitions
challenging the validity of the Eighth Amendment were
dismissed by the Sindh High Court in October 1989. Under the
Eighth Amendment, only those sentenced to death by martial law
courts may petition to have their cases reviewed by the
President; all others must appeal to a provincial governor.
In 1988 the Supreme Court allowed limited categories of people
convicted of criminal offenses under martial law courts to
apply for review of their cases.
According to Amnesty International (AI), by August 1989, 700
of these cases had been examined by a review board, which
recommended the release of 69 prisoners. As a result of the
amnesty program instituted by the Bhutto government in
December 1988, thousands of prisoners were released, including
political prisoners convicted by special military courts under
martial law. The death sentences of 2,029 prisoners were
commuted, and compensation was announced for some categories
of martial law prisoners. Some groups criticized the
Government's review procedures which, they alleged, freed a
number of hardened criminals and terrorists but left non-PPP
politicians and members of minority religious groups behind
The estimates of the number of political prisoners believed to
be in custody vary since human rights groups disagree on the
definition of a political prisoner. Political activists
arrested on criminal charges as well as party workers detained
for political reasons have been called political prisoners by
some hximan rights groups. Other groups refer to political
prisoners as those persons convicted by martial law courts
during the Zia period, regardless of the offense.
      f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
Although police are required by law to obtain a warrant before
entering a private home, these legal requirements are often
ignored, particularly during arrests of bandits and during
communal disturbances.
Pakistan maintains several domestic intelligence services
which monitor politicians, political activists, suspected
terrorists, and suspected foreign intelligence agents.
Informed sources maintain that wiretapping is commonplace,
mail is occasionally intercepted and opened, and surveillance
is often used. Civil and military officials are instructed to
report their contacts with foreign diplomats. During the
final months of the Bhutto administration, the Government
attempted to restrict access by diplomats to only the most
senior civil servants.
      g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts
Persistent ethnic divisions continued in the province of Sindh
between native-born Sindhis, largely associated with the PPP,
and those who immigrated to Sindh at the time of the partition
from India in 1947, largely associated with their own
political party, the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) . These
divisions led to incidents of violence in which persons
belonging to one ethnic group were killed in indiscriminate
attacks by rival groups. There were repeated allegations,
which are difficult to verify, that law enforcement agencies
favored the PPP followers and caused the deaths of innocent
persons while attempting to bring the violence under control
or by standing by and refusing to intervene. In May a number
of civilians were killed in Hyderabad by the police or the
paramilitary Pakistani Rangers. Allegations were made against
the PPP federal and provincial governments, charging that a
police "clean-up operation," reportedly intended as a
crackdown on illegal weapons, was in reality an attack on
rival MQM activists. The PPP denied the allegations. As a
result of this, and previous incidents, the Prime Minister and
the Sindh Chief Minister and Governor asked the military for
assistance. The Pakistan Army was deployed in Sindh to help
civilian authorities restore law and order.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
      a. Freedom of Speech and Press
While Pakistanis generally discuss and debate public policy
issues freely, some laws restrict free speech. Laws against
bringing Islam or the armed forces into discredit or ridicule
remain in force. In February a case was filed in Sessions
court against a woman for making "anti-Islamic" remarks. The
woman allegedly demanded that women, like men, should have the
right to contract four marriages. Article 6 of the 1985
Constitution provides for the death penalty for those who
damage the Constitution by any act, which includes publishing
statements against the spirit of the Constitution. Reporters
and editors exercise self-censorship in these areas.
A government-owned press trust controls four of the larger
newspapers. Neither the Bhutto administration, the caretaker
government, nor the Sharif administration moved to disband the
press trust despite promises to do so. The caretaker
government dismissed the editors of the government-controlled
press trust newspapers who were appointed by the PPP
government and reappointed those who ran the papers under
President Zia. One of the two wire services is controlled by
the Ministry of Information. Other newspapers are privately
owned and their circulation far exceeds that of the
government-owned press.
The Government owns and operates the radio and television
stations and strictly controls the news they carry. In June
the Government licensed the first semiprivate television
channel, the People's Television Network (PTN), which is a
subsidiary of a government-controlled corporation. PTN
broadcasts Cable News Network (CNN) 20 hours daily to
residents of Islamabad, a service which was extended to
Karachi in August. CNN is shown live, although a few visual
segments that are considered morally objectionable are blacked
out to the local audience.
Since 1985 there has been relatively free discussion of
government policies and open criticism of the Government,
especially in the privately owned press. The press routinely
reports remarks critical of the Government made by opposition
politicians. The government newspapers and wire services,
however, are circumspect in their coverage of the news. In
its early days, the Bhutto government began to loosen its
control over radio and television and gave some coverage to
the opposition. However, this liberal attitude soon gave way
to the policy of projecting only the official viewpoint and
distorting opposition news. The caretaker government also
used the government-controlled media to project the official
line, and thus far there has been no dramatic change under the
Sharif administration.
The Government exploits the newspapers' dependence on
government advertising, an important source of revenue, as a
way of influencing editorial policy. The Bhutto Government
suspended government advertising in Markaz and in The
Observer, newspapers often critical of the PPP. In July the
federal Government was said to be considering cancelling its
advertising in the Karachi daily Dawn after publication of a
supplement sponsored by the government of Balochistan which
contained articles highlighting the poor economic situation in
the province. Dawn preempted the move by making the
government's plan public. On April 24, the Balochistan
provincial government banned entry of national newspapers into
the province for 1 day due to the Chief Minister's
dissatisfaction with coverage of a speech he had delivered.
After the dissolution of the Bhutto administration, the
caretaker government reduced advertising in pro-PPP newspapers
such as Musawaat.
Government officials no longer call editors to demand the
inclusion or exclusion of particular stories, but they still
give editors "advice" on certain stories, which is usually
followed. In March Pakistan's radio and television were
required to use only news and information about the Afghan
coup supplied by the intelligence services. As a result,
coverage by Pakistan radio and television, and to a lesser
extent the Pakistani print media, amounted to a disinformation
campaign, at odds with actual events. In August the caretaker
government circulated a letter asking publishers to run a
story complaining of cultural infiltration by the United
States through CNN broadcasts. No newspapers complied, and
one ran an editorial protesting the request. The U.S. Embassy
protested to the Minister of Information and received an
A print, press, and publications ordinance requires the
registration of printing presses and newspapers and allows the
Government to confiscate newspapers or magazines deemed
objectionable. The newspapers have the right of appeal to the
civil courts. In May the Punjab government denied permission
for the publication of a Sindhi-language paper in Lahore on
the grounds that the intended title was "not available."
In November the President promulgated a new registration of
printing press and publications ordinance, superseding
previous ordinances on this subject. It appears to make only
minor changes in the law and is considered by some to be a
symbol of the new Government's continued support of press
freedom. However, under the new ordinance, a newspaper must
have government permission to issue a new publication, taking
away the newspaper's right to issue new publications without
approval if the Government fails to act on its application
within 4 months.
A 1989 press act allows journalists access to all federal and
provincial government files except "highly sensitive defense
files." Under this act, publication permits are still
required but may be obtained at the local level; however,
journalists say that they have never been allowed access to
such files.
The actions of some political and religious pressure groups
posed another danger to press freedom. In January young men,
reportedly from the Islami Jamiat Tuluba (IJT), the student
wing of the Jamaat Islami Party, disrupted a media-sponsored
seminar about violence against the press in Lahore. In
February the office of the pro-PPP Urdu daily Haider in
Rawalpindi was attacked. Property was destroyed; the police
stationed in front of the building did not intervene.
In March a group of young men, reportedly members of the
Muslim Student Federation (the student wing of the Muslim
League), attacked the Lahore office of the Urdu language daily
newspaper Jang. They burned thousands of copies of the paper,
fired guns in the air, and threatened employees before
departing unimpeded by a contingent of police posted at the
door. They charged the newspaper with favoring the PPP . The
next day, a demonstration by journalists protesting the attack
was fired upon from the Muslim League headquarters. Also in
March, the head of the Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) political
party demanded greater coverage for PAT in the press and on
radio and television, and said that otherwise PAT would "take
direct action" against them. In April several men burst into
the Lahore office of the Frontier Post and threatened violence
if the newspaper did not stop printing investigative stories
about the Lahore Development Authority.
Journalists in Karachi have complained of attempts,
particularly by the MQM, to intimidate the press. In October
the MQM leader publicly threated the editor of the monthly
magazine Newsline for publishing an article containing a
report of the MQM's torture of its dissidents. After she
implied that the intelligence services could have assisted in
the formation of the MQM, the editor of the monthly magazine
Herald was threatened and reportedly received a severed hand
on her doorstep.
Other incidents discouraging the exercise of freedom of the
press include the killing of three newsmen in Sindh in May for
filing reports inimical to Sindhi nationalism. Also in May, a
Peshawar newsman was murdered reportedly for filing a report
critical of an Afghan fundamentalist group.
Academic freedom is generally recognized by government and
university authorities, but almost all institutions of higher
learning are state run, and authorities have extensive power
to restrict the actions of individuals and groups regarded as
troublesome. In the classroom, professors tend to exercise
some self-censorship in areas considered to be sensitive by
the Government.
Another threat to academic freedom is the atmosphere of
violence and intolerance among student organizations, which
typically are tied to political parties. Student unions were
legalized in early 1989 by Prime Minister Bhutto and continue
to operate without interference. However, at many universities
student union elections have not taken place. On campuses,
well-armed groups of students of varying political persuasions
clash frequently and intimidate other students, instructors,
and administrators on matters of language, syllabus,
examination policies, doctrine, and dress.
Literary and creative works are generally free of censorship,
but authors and publishers tend to avoid controversial and
political themes. Obscene literature, a category broadly
defined by the Government, is subject to seizure. Authorities
have frequently banned or confiscated books and magazines
dealing with sensitive political topics. The Balochistan
government banned a book, "Breaking the Curfew," by a British
author due to objectionable passages referring to Islam. In
January several books written by adherents of and about the
Ahmadi religion were banned. Senior officials continued to
stress the Government's intention to prosecute anyone
violating the Official Secrets Act. Dramas and documentaries
on once taboo subjects, such as narcotics, violence against
women, and female inequality, were shown on Pakistani
television during the Bhutto administration and continue to be
Conservative religious and political groups have been active
in enforcing their own code of morality on Pakistani society.
In May a group of young men belonging to the Jamaat Islami
(JI) political party, broke into a private home in Lahore
during an art show, destroying paintings and physically
abusing onlookers. The JI also successfully kept New Year's
celebrations around the country to a minimum and successfully
pressured provincial governments in Punjab and Sindh to cancel
a concert tour to Pakistan by Indian film stars.
      b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Government continued to respect the right of peaceful
assembly in most cases, although district magistrates
exercised their power under Section 144 of the Criminal
Procedure Code to ban meetings of more than four people
whenever violent demonstrations seemed in the offing.
Political leaders were able to travel freely and address large
rallies, often emphasizing antigovernment themes. As the
Kashmir situation heated up in early 1990, capital authorities
permitted demonstrations in Islamabad by both government and
opposition political parties concerning a variety of issues.
Although many political rallies are allowed, regulations
preventing demonstrations are regularly invoked and curfews
imposed, particularly in Sindh Province, during times of
ethnic tension. Opposition groups planning rallies in the
capital were regularly denied permission by the Government.
To forestall potential sectarian violence, authorities
prevented some Muslim religious leaders from traveling to
certain areas during the religious month of Muharram.
      c. Freedom of Religion
Pakistan is an Islamic republic with a population that is 97
percent Muslim, and the Constitution requires all laws to be
consistent with Islamic ideology. Generally, men±)ers of
minority groups may practice their own religion openly,
maintain links with coreligionists in other countries, and
travel for religious purposes. Foreign clergy may enter the
country to serve congregations. Conversions are permitted,
but the Government prohibits proselytizing among Muslims and
has refused to renew the residence permits of some foreign
missionaries who have ignored this ban. The case of nine
Ahmadi doctors charged with proselytizing while providing
health care services in November 1989 is still pending.
A 1974 constitutional amendment declared Ahmadis to be a
non-Muslim minority because they do not accept Muhammad as the
last prophet. The Ahmadis, however, continue to look on
themselves as Muslims, for whom many Muslim practices are an
important feature of the practice of their religion. In 1984
the Government made it illegal for an Ahmadi to call himself a
Muslim and banned Ahmadis from using Muslim terminology while
proselytizing. Violators are subject to prosecution. In 1986
legislation was passed, apparently aimed at Ahmadis, making
blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad a capital offense (see
Section I.e.).
In 1990 Ahmadis were detained for displaying the Islamic
profession of faith (Kalima) and other Koranic verses. Most
were released, but several were tried, convicted, and received
prison sentences. The press reported that during one trial,
the Punjab Advocate General noted that the death penalty was
applicable for Ahmadis displaying the Kalima. There have been
reports of the forced conversion of female members of the
Ahmadi sect. In December 1989, the entire population of
Rabwah, the Ahmadis' headquarters city, was charged with
violating the ordinance that establishes as criminal certain
acts of the Muslim faith when performed by Ahmadis, including
the declaration of faith. Police continued to close down
Ahmadi places of worship, which cannot be called mosques under
Pakistani law. A number of attacks on individual
congregations were reported.
In January local religious leaders protested the burial of an
Ahmadi woman in an Attock graveyard. The Lahore High Court
ruled that no legal grounds existed for exhuming the woman's
body. However, the Ahmadis who presided over the woman's
burial were later arrested. Also in January, Alimadi leaders
in Abbottabad were arrested after a prayer meeting in a
private home. In May, 10 Ahmadi students were attacked and
evicted from their hostel at a Lahore Medical College. They
were beaten and robbed, their possessions were burned, and
they were unable to return to school. In November the
Government of Punjab cancelled two scheduled gatherings of
20,000 Ahmadis in Rabwah. Also in November, in Nawabshah a
prominent Ahmadi was shot to death in his home while sleeping
by an unknown and unapprehended intruder. Although
apolitical, the victim was outspoken about his religious views
and the murder was attributed to an anti-Ahmadi religious
Christians have had difficulty obtaining permission from local
and federal officials to build new churches, and recently
began working through the courts to regain possession of
educational institutions that were nationalized during the
Hindus complain of continued kidnapings and forced conversion
of young women, confiscation of Hindu shrines and temples,
disruption of prayer services, and the burning of Hindu texts
as well as the torture of detained Hindus. However, the Hindu
community has not been barred from celebrating its festivals.
In April the Hindu community approached the federal Government
with a recommendation to show Hindu festivals and cultural
programs on television. In November several Hindu temples in
Sindh and the NWFP were damaged; the violence was triggered by
the reported desecration of the Babri Mosque in India by
extremist Hindus.
Among Muslims, sectarian violence broke out between the
majority Sunnis and minority Shi ' a populations in a number of
cities throughout Pakistan. In March the assassination of a
Sunni religious leader in Jhang sparked sectarian riots and
attacks aginst local Shi ' a leaders.
Under pressure from fundamentalist Muslims, who wield
substantial influence over their coreligionists far beyond
their numbers, the Government has been reticent in
investigating and otherwise trying to prevent incidents of
discrimination against minorities.
      d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Pakistanis generally enjoy freedom of movement within the
country. Previous governments banned individual political
leaders from traveling to certain provinces for a specified
time through use of "externment" notices. Some Shi ' a and
Sunni clergy were barred from entering certain areas during
the Islamic holy month of Muharram.
Pakistanis are generally free to travel abroad. However, the
federal Government issued a statement in April noting that it
"declined to allow" a National People's Party (NPP) leader to
go abroad, since his political activities were considered
prejudicial to the interests of the State. In April the
Bhutto administration removed restrictions on travel to the
Soviet Union, India, Taiwan, and Eastern Europe. Travel to
Israel and South Africa, which are not recognized by the
Government, is legally prohibited, but Pakistanis nevertheless
succeed in traveling to Jerusalem for religious reasons.
Government employees must obtain "no-objection certificates"
(NOC's) before traveling abroad. Students are also required
to have NOC's from their institutions. The exit control list,
used broadly by previous governments to control foreign
travel, was reportedly used by the Bhutto government only
against serious criminals such as drug traffickers. However,
the list remains a tool available to the Government to limit
foreign travel and was used in August, after the dissolution
of the Bhutto government, against PPP politicians, officials,
and persons suspected of financial wrongdoing. In August the
Interior Minister announced that 33 names had been added to
the 444 names already on the exit control list.
Over 3 million Afghans fled to Pakistan as a result of the
1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the current civil
war. The Government administers and supports some 340 Afghan
refugee camps at significant cost. The movement and
employment of Afghans in Pakistan has generally not been
restricted, and many Afghans reside outside the refugee
camps. A voluntary repatriation program, begun in July by the
Government and U.N. agencies to encourage the refugees to
return, has enjoyed some limited success.
The plight of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants detained by
police came to the public's attention after a U.S. National
Public Radio broadcast in February. Hundreds of Bangladeshis
(some accompanied by children) are held in prisons throughout
Pakistan and charged with immigration violations. Almost all
of these Bangladeshis are without the documents necessary to
prove citizenship. Many of the women are alleged to be in
Pakistan as a result of trafficking in women for purposes of
prostitution and some are detained under the Hadood
Ordinances. The Government, with the help of the Bangladesh
Government, took steps in 1990 to document and repatriate some
of these Bangladeshis, but little has been done to solve the
The repatriation to Pakistan of the Bihari community in
Bangladesh (composed of Biharis from the Indian state of Bihar
who migrated to East Pakistan at the time of partition)
continues to be an issue in Pakistani politics. The Biharis
do not wish to remain in Bangladesh and have been in refugee
camps since 1971, waiting to be brought to Pakistan. Their
repatriation continues to be a partisan political issue tied
to Pakistan's various ethnic problems. Many in the Mohajir
community are actively involved in the issue, and a private
committee is working for the Biharis' repatriation.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens
to Change Their Government
The citizens of Pakistan have the right and the ability to
change their government peacefully. All Pakistanis aged 21
and over have the right to vote by secret ballot in
elections. Local governments and the provincial and national
assemblies are directly elected. The Senate is elected by the
members of the four provincial assemblies. The President is
also indirectly elected by an electoral college consisting of
the members of the national and provincial assemblies and the
Senate. Under the 1973 Constitution as amended in 1985, the
President has the power to dismiss the National Assembly and
call for new elections without consulting the Prime Minister
when a "situation has arisen in which the Government of the
federation cannot be carried on in accordance with the
provisions of the Constitution." On August 6, the President,
citing a long list of charges against the Bhutto
administration dealing primarily with corruption, dissolved
the Government and announced a state of emergency. Emergency
powers, which allow the President to suspend fundamental
rights, were never used. The President appointed opposition
leader Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi as caretaker Prime Minister and
announced that National Assembly elections would be held on
October 24 and provincial assembly elections on October 27.
The elections were held as scheduled. Assessed under
generally accepted international standards and in the context
of previous elections in Pakistan, the 1990 Pakistani
elections were relatively free and fair, with the results
reflecting the will of the Pakistani people. The election
proceeded smoothly in the overwhelming majority of districts,
although there were irregularities in a limited number of
electoral districts and some reports of electoral fraud.
Election fraud that did occur was not of a sufficient
magnitude to alter the overall outcome.
After the election, there were credible reports of
irregularities on both sides from individual constituencies
around the country. The election commission, which is headed
by a sitting Supreme Court justice, is reviewing the
complaints presented to it by the political parties and
candidates, and is taking action as appropriate. At year's
end, the process of reviewing complaints was far from
complete. The commission had not overturned the election
results in any constituency. The President's decision to
dissolve the National Assembly and the provincial assemblies
was challenged by the PPP in the high courts. In October both
the Lahore and Sindh High Courts upheld the President's
action. In a similar case in 1988, the Supreme Court ruled
that President Zia's dismissal of the Junejo government had
been unconstitutional, but ordered that elections go forward
in the interests of democracy.
According to the Constitution, members of the national and
provincial assemblies serve terms of no more than 5 years,
unless the assembly is dissolved. The President is elected
every 5 years, and Senators are elected for 6-year terms.
Local by-elections were held for provincial and National
Assembly seats in several constituencies in 1990. Although
there were credible reports of vote-rigging in some areas.
most observers believed the elections to have been free of
major interference.
Political parties have been allowed to operate freely since
the lifting of martial law in 1985-1986. In 1988 the Supreme
Court struck down a law banning unregistered political parties
from participating in elections and upheld the use of symbols
by political parties.
While women are legally entitled to participate in government
or politics, and Benazir Bhutto was the first female head of
government of an Islamic country, traditional attitudes toward
the proper role of women make it difficult for most women to
succeed, and they are underrepresented in politics at all
levels. At the federal level, the statute creating 20
reserved seats for women in the National Assembly lapsed, and
in 1990 only 6 women were given tickets by the political
parties to stand as candidates for general seats in the next
Assembly, and of these 6 only 2 were elected. The new IJI
Government has pledged to restore the women's reserved seats
without delay.
The Constitution requires that the President and Prime
Minister must be Muslims. Although members of minority
religious groups—for example, Ahmadis, Christians, and
Parsis—have held high office and are represented in the
economic, political, and social life of the country, they are
not permitted to vote in Muslim constituencies but must seek
office and cast their ballots in country-wide, at-large
constituencies reserved for them in the national and
provincial assemblies, an arrangement widely criticized by
minority and human rights groups. Ahmadis, disputing their
minority status and their designation as non-Muslims, have
refused to exercise these electoral options. Minorities,
especially Christians and Hindus, complain that they are
unable to vote for or influence the parties that will be able
to form the government.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations
of Human Rights
Domestic human rights organizations operate free of official
harassment, and their reports receive extensive coverage in
the press. New human rights and legal aid groups continue to
form and operate without government restriction. Persons
affiliated with various international human rights
organizations have been permitted to visit Pakistan and travel
freely. In 1989 an AI delegation met with government
officials, including the President and Prime Minister, and
issued a special report on the visit in May 1990.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion,
Language, or Social Status
A strong lobby of Islamic leaders continues to stress a
conservative interpretation of Islamic injunctions to justify
discrimination against women. It remains accepted practice to
assign women subordinate roles in terms of civil, political,
managerial, and individual rights, although there are women at
high levels of government. Many Pakistanis interpret the
Koran's injunctions on modesty to mean that women should
remain either at home or behind the veil. In rural areas,
although women of small farmer families generally work
alongside men in the fields, they remain subordinate to men
and suffer discrimination in education, employment, and legal
rights. Women are often discouraged from voting in elections
by family, religious, and social custom in the rural and more
conservative parts of Pakistan. In some areas, women are
discouraged from voting by authorities who do not provide
separate voting facilities for women who observe purdah
restrictions; these women are unwilling to unveil themselves
to male poll officials who seek to confirm their identity. In
rural Sindh, women are sometimes barred from voting because
they refuse to divulge their given name in public or to a
stranger. Despite clear injunctions in the Koran and the
civil laws that provide for the right of women to inherit, in
practice women generally do not receive or are pressed to
surrender their due share in family inheritance. Both civil
and religious laws protect women's rights in cases of divorce,
but, as in the case of inheritance laws, many women are
unaware of them. These attitudes have contributed to a very
low adult female literacy rate, estimated, for example, to be
only 4 percent among rural women. Despite increased attention
to the rights and status of women resulting from the election
of a woman prime minister, no legislation was passed
concerning women's rights.
A small number of urban women study and teach in the
universities, but postgraduate employment opportunities remain
largely limited to teaching, medical services, and the law,
with a small number of women entering the commercial and
public sectors. There are reports that women who apply to
professional colleges face discrimination, although in January
the Supreme Court ruled that no ceiling could be placed on the
percentage of female students admitted to medical school.
However, in October female students demonstrated against the
decision of the Punjab government to restrict the number of
seats for women in medical colleges in Punjab, and were
lathi-charged (beaten with a weighted stick) by police. Women
may now participate in international athletic competition, a
change that took place with the South Asian Federation Games
in 1989.
In May the Senate passed new Shari'a legislation, replacing an
expired 1988 ordinance that had set up committees to ensure
Islamization in education and the economy. The new act became
void, however, with the dissolution of the National Assembly
in August. Opponents of the legislation argued that it would
replace constitutional government with a religious theocracy,
with adverse consequences for the rights of women and
religious minorities.
Human rights activists continued to express concern over the
1989 ruling of the Federal Shari'a Court which upheld the
distinction under the Hadood Ordinances between evidence
presented in court by a man and that presented by a woman.
The Court ruled that only men could testify as witnesses in
certain cases; in other cases only women's evidence would be
acceptable. In certain cases the testimony of two women is
required to equal that of one man.
There is no reliable information on the extent of violence
against women in Pakistan. Abuse within the family is usually
treated as a private matter in this traditional society, and
there are few instances in which redress is sought in the
courts. However, there has been increased press reporting and
public concern about the unresponsiveness or even involvement
of police in incidents of abuse or rape of women. Cases
involving nurses raped by doctors while on duty in Karachi
hospitals received a great deal of press coverage and are
currently pending in the courts. A Karachi-based group called
War Against Rape (WAR) was formed to change attitudes about
rape and to assist rape victims. The press also focused
attention on the problem of women being burned to death,
allegedly in kitchen accidents. Many of these deaths are
believed to be murders perpetrated by husbands or in-laws.
Women have also been killed or mutilated by male relatives who
suspect them of adultery. Few such cases are seriously
Women's organizations operate throughout the country, but
primarily in Pakistan's urban centers. Many concentrate on
educating women about existing legal rights rather than
working to overhaul the system. Other groups concentrate on
providing legal aid to poor women in prison who may not be
able to afford an attorney. Most argue that women will be
unable to make real progress until education and basic health
care are accessible to all.
Security deteriorated in the Afghan refugee camps in 1990, and
foreign aid workers, particularly those involved with women's
programs, were threatened and, in some cases, attacked.
Afghan women were warned to stay away from training centers.
A female Afghan nurse working in a medical aid program was
abducted, raped, and murdered in June. Other Afghans are said
to be behind attacks which target women or women's programs,
and the Government of Pakistan, whose day-to-day control of
the camps is more theoretical than real, has been able to do
little to solve the problem.
Reports of discrimination against minority groups in
employment and education appear well founded. In the early
years of Pakistan's history, minorities were able to rise to
the senior ranks of the military and civil service. Today,
many are unable to rise above midlevel ranks. The perception
of discrimination on ethnic and linguistic grounds is
fundamental to the repeated ethnic conflicts in several areas
over recent years and most notably in the province of Sindh
during 1990. These were but the latest in a long series of
conflicts between Sindhis and Mohajirs (Urdu-speaking
immigrants originally from India). Non-Punjabis resent what
they see as Punjabi domination of the bureaucracy, the police,
and the armed forces.
Officially designated as "non-Muslims," Ahmadis are subject to
discrimination and occasional harassment and have limited
chances for advancement in the public sector. Young Ahmadis
and their parents complain of increasing difficulty in gaining
admittance to good colleges, forcing many children to go
overseas for higher education. This problem is not unique to
Ahmadis, but their resentment is strengthened by their
conviction that they too are Muslims. Ahmadis complain that
charges are often filed against them for the purpose of
harassment—few cases ever come to trial. There are credible
reports of Ahmadis being denied promotions in the military and
civil service. The major Ahmadi newspaper was closed down for
90 days in June by a Jhang District magistrate, who said that
the paper was "prejudicial to the public safety. " Charges
were filed against the newspaper's publisher and editor. The
paper resumed publication in August after the order lapsed.
In August, Ahmadis were permitted by the Punjab government to
return to their homes in Chak Sikander, where a year earlier
Ahmadi -Orthodox violence resulted in four deaths and the
destruction of dozens of homes. Although private
organizations investigated the Chak Sikander incident, no
official inquiry was made.
Members of the Christian community complain that barriers keep
Christians from rising to high positions in public service,
public corporations, universities, and the military.
An aggravating element in discrimination cases is the
continuing social stratification. Socially prominent
Pakistanis suffer less at the hands of officials than those
less well-off, partly because of their ability to reciprocate
favors, and partly because of the general deference still
accorded social "betters" in Pakistani society. Although
original caste distinctions common to South Asian societies
have no legally binding force, clan affiliations and ethnic
identities, which in some ways parallel the old caste system,
still help or hinder those seeking education, employment,
justice, public services, and public office. Among
minorities, there is a belief that the authorities, even if
they do not persecute them, afford them less protection under
the law than is afforded Muslim citizens.
Section 6 Worker Rights
      a. The Right of Association
The right of industrial workers to form trade unions is
enunciated in the Industrial Relations Ordinance, but is
subject to major restrictions in some employment areas. In
practice, labor laws place significant constraints on the
formation of unions and their ability to function
The right of unions to strike in Pakistan is severely
constrained by legally required conciliation proceedings and
cooling-off periods, and especially by the Government's
authority to ban any strike found to cause "serious hardship
to the community" or prejudice to the national interest, or in
any case after it has continued unresolved for 30 days.
Strikes continue to be rare; when they do occur, they are
usually illegal and short. There are also periodic work
slowdowns on the part of low-ranking government employees.
Police crackdowns on worker demonstrations are fairly common.
At present, union members make up only about 6 percent of the
industrial labor force and 3 percent of the total estimated
work force. The PPP came to power in 1988 promising to
eliminate contract labor. However, union leaders complain
that the Bhutto government allowed contract labor to flourish,
undercutting the power of the unions and exploiting workers
willing to work on temporary contracts. These workers receive
fewer benefits and have no job security. Trade unions of all
political orientations are permitted, and the political
leanings of labor leaders cover the entire spectrum.
While many unions remain aloof from party politics, it appears
that the most powerful are those associated with political
parties. After the PPP came to power, it successfully
organized trade unions under the banner of the People's Labor
Bureau (PLB). The PLB ' s main competitors are the Jamaat
Islami's National Labor Federation and the MQM-backed labor
Three centrist labor federations are affiliated to the
International Confederation of Trade Unions. Since the end of
martial law restrictions in 1985, leftist labor leaders have
been permitted openly to attend functions of the
Communist-controlled World Federation of Trade Unions abroad.
Pakistan has been criticized for years by International Labor
Organization (ILO) committees for its failure to abide by
Convention 87 regarding freedom of association and Convention
98 on the right to organize and collective bargaining, both of
which it has ratified. The charges, repeatedly raised by
Pakistani trade unions, have focused on the limitations on
union formation, strikes, and collective bargaining. No
Pakistani government has yet made any serious effort to change
the laws criticized in the ILO reports. ILO criticism in 1990
focused on continuing problems concerning forced or compulsory
labor in law and practice.
      b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The right of workers to form associations and freely elect
representatives to act as collective bargaining agents is
established in law. Section 15 of the Industrial Relations
Ordinance of 1969 specifically prohibits antiunion
discrimination by employers. Current laws, however, place
major limitations on the extent and effectiveness of such
activities. Large sections of the labor force are excluded
from the right to organize and bargain collectively under the
Industrial Relations Ordinance, including the 53 percent of
Pakistan's labor force employed in agriculture. Under the
Essential Services Maintenance Act of 1952 (ESA) , normal union
activities are severely restricted in sectors associated with
"the administration of the State," which covers a wide range
of government services and state enterprises, such as
education, medical, oil and gas production, transport, etc.
For each industry found subject to the ESA, a finding that
must be renewed every 6 months, a specific determination is
made by the Government as to what constitutes the limits of
union activity. In cases in which collective bargaining has
been barred, individual wage boards decide wage levels.
Disputes are adjudicated before the National Industrial
Relations Commission. A worker's right to quit may also be
curtailed under this Act, and a fired worker has no recourse
to the labor courts. Collective bargaining and even strikes
are known in some job areas covered by the act, e.g., the
nationalized banks. The abolition of the ESA continued to be
a major demand of most unions.
The ILO has advised the Government that a 1980 ordinance
permitting it to exempt the export processing zones from the
provisions of any law is inconsistent with the requirements of
ILO conventions 87 and 98. An export processing zone, with
its own labor regulations, is now functioning in Karachi. The
Government has not yet taken the action requested by the ILO.
      c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Forced labor is specifically prohibited by law. There is no
evidence that any form of slavery or bonded labor has received
official sanction. However, critics argue that the ESA's
limitation on some employees' right to leave their jobs
constitutes a form of compulsory labor. The Government
informed the ILO's Committee on the Application of Standards
in 1990 that amendments were under consideration to rectify
the problem and that steps had been taken to address other
forced labor issues, but the Committee expressed
disappointemnt that legislation inconsistent with ILO
conventions on forced labor had not yet been repealed.
Illegal bonded labor appears to be widespread. Bonded labor
is common in the brick, carpet, glass, and fishing industries
and extends to agricultural and construction work in rural
In the brick kiln industry, a workers' association succeeded
in bringing the plight of bonded brickmakers in Punjab before
the Supreme Court. The Court's 1989 compromise ruling
reinforced prohibitions on forced labor and forcible
collection of debts and limited salary advances to 1 week's
wages, but upheld the legality of existing debts. Although
the ruling was seen as an important gain for bonded workers,
little progress has been made since then in the brick kiln and
other industries employing bonded laborers. Resistance to the
ruling has been strong, reports of violations continue to
appear, and the workers' movement has split into competing
factions over the issue. Moreover, due to the lack of
alternatives, many workers have returned to bonded labor at
the kilns.
In response to the publicity surrounding this issue, the
Government drafted a bill to abolish bonded labor and sent it
to the provincial governments for comment. However, no action
had been taken as of the end of the year.
      d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
Despite legal limitations, child labor is common in Pakistan.
Child labor is limited by at least four separate statutes and
Article 11 of the Constitution. These laws present a
confusing picture, variously limiting employment in certain
fields to those over 14 or 15, and, in one case, permitting
factory work by children under 14 (in apparent contradiction
of the Constitution) if a government doctor issues a
certificate of fitness. None of these regulations is
effectively enforced. Regulations requiring school attendance
are also rarely enforced.
While much child labor is in the traditional framework of
family farming or small business, the abusive employment of
children in larger industries and government businesses is
widespread. Although there are no reliable official
statistics, unofficial surveys and occasional press features
suggest that violations of existing laws are common.
Unofficial estimates indicate that one-third of Pakistan's
total labor force is made up of workers under age 18; 45
percent of Pakistan's population is estimated to be under 15
years of age. The employment of children is occasionally
linked with stories of bonded or forced labor and child
      e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
Labor regulations in Pakistan are governed by federal statutes
applicable throughout the country. These provide for, or
require the provincial governments to provide for, a legal
minimum wage as well as certain worker protection and welfare
services. The minimum wage, which varies from province to
province, for an unskilled worker is roughly $25 per month
not enough to support even a small family. In the 1990 budget
session, the National Assembly voted to set a national minimum
wage at roughly $50 per month, but no authorizing legislation
was ever implemented. The law provides for a maximum workweek
of 54 hours, rest periods during the workday, and paid annual
holidays. These regulations apply, however, only to a small
minority of the labor force; they specifically do not apply to
agricultural workers, to workers in Pakistan's numerous small
factories with fewer than 10 employees, and to the small
contract groups of under 10 workers into which factory work
forces are increasingly divided. Due to a lack of education
and awareness, many workers qualifying for the benefits do not
receive them.
The enforcement of labor regulations is left to the provincial
governments, all of which are largely ineffective in this
area. The attention given to enforcement varies among the
provinces in proportion to the significance of industrial
labor. In all cases, limited resources, corruption, and
inadequate regulatory structures hamper the effort. In
general, worker health and safety standards are poor, and
little is being done to improve them. Organized labor is
occasionally able to press for improvements in this area, and
some legal protections apply, although they are weakly