Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1992

In the fourth year since Pakistan's return to democratic rule. Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif, who is also head of the Islamic Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) political partv
coalition, and President Ghulam Ishaq Khan continued to work together as the civilian
leaders of Pakistan's federal parliamentary democracy. The Chief of Army Staff,
(jeneral Asif Nawaz, also wields considerable influence on many major policy decisions
and is the third member of the unofficial "troika" which governs the nation.
Responsibility for internal security rests primarily with the police, although peiramilitary
forces, such as the Rangers and Frontier Constabulary, are charged with
maintaining law and order in frontier areas. Police forces are under provincial control,
as are paramilitary forces when assisting in law and order operations. Both
forces were responsible for human rights abuses in 1992. The army and paramilitary
forces, under the nominal control of the Sindh provincial government (but
under the effective control of the army and Central government), were called upon
in May to help restore law and order in Sindh provmce. This law and order operation
also sparked chaises of human rirfits violations by the army units invohred
and of selective targeting of certain political elements in Sindh. According to the
U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, total military expenditures lor 1989
were $2,488 million. While the Government recognizes that too much of its gross
national product is devoted to military spending, there is no indication that efforts
will be made to reduce these expenditures in the near future.
Pakistan has a mixed economy of both state-run and private industries and financial
institutions. Cotton textiles and apparel, rice, and leather products are the principal
export products. The Government is pursuing an ambitious program of^economic
reform, emphasizing the privatization of government-owned financial institutions,
industrial units, and utilities and the continued diminution of the public sector's
role in the economy. The liberalization of foreign investment and exchange controls
are also important priorities. The Constitution assures the ri^t to private
property and of private businesses to operate freely in most sectors of the economy.
liiere was little change in the human rights situation in 1992, and serious problems
remained in several areas. The press and political organizations continued to
exercise considerable, but not unfettered* freedom of expression. The overt repression
of political opponents, a particular problem in Sindh, lessened but nonetheless
remained an issue of concern. Selective prosecution of opposition political leaders
continued. The arbitrary detention, arrest, torture, and other abuse of prisoners and
detainees also continued to be a serious problem. There were no significant efforts
to reform either the police or judicial systems, and responsible authorities did little
to prosecute and punish those responsible for abuses.
Heightened sectarian clashes between the Sunni and Shi'a communities resulted
in numerous murders. Non-Muslim minorities continued to be the subject of unofiicial
persecution by religious zealots. The Government did little, despite complaints,
to curb these activities and continued its support for religious legislation designed
to Islamize Pakistan.
Social and legal constraints kept women in a subordinate position in society, and
significant restraints remained on workers' ri^ts. The use of child and bonded labor
remained widespread in spite of legislation to prohibit these practices.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from
      a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing.
Extrajudicial killings, often in the
form of staged "police encounters"—shootouts resulting in the death of suspects
continued in 1992. There were also scores of credible reports from the media and
human rights monitors concerning prisoners' deaths while in police custody, including
reports of instances in which prisoners alleged to have been kUled in shootouts
probably died as a result of police torture. Law enforcement personnel were rarely
charged or tried for these killings, which human rights groups say numbered in the
Many questions remain regarding the deaths in May of seven men alleged by the
authorities to have been terrorists of the Al-Zulfiqar Organization (AZO). The seven
were reportedly killed in an exchange of fire with a naval patrol boat at sea, near
Shah Bandar. Official reports say that on May 9 the group was intercepted on its
way to India for terrorist training. Family members of the deceased claim that only
one or two of the badly decomposed bodies returned to them had gunshot wounds;
all reportedly showed signs of torture. The other 14 alleged AZO members arrested
in this incident are being tried in special courts in Karachi.
In the course of the army cleanup operation in Sindh, at least nine villagers of
Tando Bhawal were killed in a massacre on June 5. Journalists produced evidence
that the victims were farm laborers involved in a land dispute rather than "terrorists
and saboteurs," as the army had originally announced. The army subsequently
took responsibility for the deaths, relieving four senior officers and arresting a major
for a field general court-martial. The major was convicted and sentenced to death,
and 13 soldiers who participated in the massacre received life sentences.
Several deaths reportedly occurred in army custody during the operation in Sindh.
One of the reported deaths in army custody was that of political activist Mohammad
Yusuf Jakhrani. Arrested at his village home in Sindh without charges on June 7,
Jakhrani was tortured during several days of political interrogation before succumbing
to his injuries on June 12. Subsequent to his death the 55-year-old Jakhrani
was charged with possession of liquor and pornography.
Two Christians accused of blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad were murdered
before a legal judgment could be rendered in their cases. Teacher Naemat Ahmar
was stabbed to death in Faisalabad on January 6. His teenage assailant said he
took the law into his own hands when the authorities did not respond to unsubstantiated
accusations of blasphemy appearing in anonymous posters. The assailant's
bail application is pending in the High Court.
A paraplegic detainee, TeJiir Iqbal, died under suspicious circumstances in July
at Kot Lakhpat prison in Lahore, where he had been in custody since the end of
1990. Iqbal, who nad converted to Christianity some 5 years before, was on trial for
having allegedly desecrated the Koran and insulted the Prophet of Islam, charges
which the defendant denied. Suspicions that Iqbal had been poisoned, perhaps by
religious zealots, led to a iudiciai inquiry into the circumstances of his death. The
inquiry is still under way, but to date no charges have been brought.
EUmic and sectarian tensions were also a cause of politically motivated killings,
as rival ethnic/political parties and organizations and their student wings frequently
clashed. Leaders of both Shi'a and Sunni organizations were assassinated tlmiughout
Pakistan, and sectarian clashes left dozens dead. The authorities made little
progress in preventing this tjrpe of violence or punishing those responsible, in part
due to the random and often spontaneous nature of these incidents, the influential
connections of many of the perpetrators, and the political risks associated with proceeding
against the radical elements in either community.
In addition to these extrajudicial killings, there was a substantial problem with
interfactional violence, including murder and kidnapings, involving Afghan refugees
and their foreign supporters resident in Pakistan. Such abuses are addressed in the
countnr report for Afghanistan.
      b. Disappearance.
^There were no reports of government-instigated disappearances,
but there were continuing credible reports of government-instigated abductions
in which the victims were subsequently found to have been detained in government
custody or arrested (see Section l.d.).
There were reports of kidnapings by rival ethnic/political parties. Perpetrators
were rarely apprehended in these cases. Most victims were eventually relefised after
ransoms were paid, but several perished.
      c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
As in past years, there continued to be persuasive evidence of misuse of police powers.
Army units in Sindh were also accused of abusing political activists and their
families. In one incident, with the apparent complicity of army and Sindh government
officials, members of a dissident wing of the Mohajir Qaumi Mahaz (MQM)
political party severely beat former Provincial Assembly member Afzal Munif to
force him into joining their ranks. Police and jailers routinely use force to elicit confessions
and to compel detainees and prisoners to incriminate others.
Beating, whipping the soles of the feet with rubber whips, sexual assault, and prolonged
isolation occur in Pakistani jails. When deaths result, suicide is the commonly
offered explanation. Police frequently use the threat of abuse to extort monev
from prisoners and their families. Whole families have been detained to force a relative
who is the subject of an arrest warrant to surrender.
In November police arrested thousands of opposition supporters in conjunction
with the opposition's "long march." By early December most had been released, but
critics objected to police inattention to legal requirements in apprehending and detaining
those arrested. Human rights groups recorded credible reports of abuse of
detainees (many of whom were prevented from communicating with their families)
and several credible reports of torture. There were credible reports that Pakistan
People's Party (PPP) Central Information Secretary Salman Taseer was badly beaten
by police and hung upside down for several hours. In addition to beating the
soles ol his feet, police also reportedly rolled weighted iron bars over Taseer's legs,
causing muscle damage.
There were continuing credible reports that women in police custody, or who went
to a police station to file a report or inquire after a detamee, were sexually abused.
This abuse is often not reported due to societal taboos, police intimidation, and family
pressure. One international human rights group reported that more than 70 percent
of women in police custody are subjected to sexual or physical violence. Accordingto
the report, not a single officer has been punished for such abuses.
There are few policewomen to perform matron duties, despite regulations requiring
that policewomen be present for the questioning or detention oi female suspects
in station houses. Some women under detention are reportedly coerced by police officers
to trade sexual favors for their release; other women are simply raped. Despite
the promulgation of regulations in 1991 to prohibit police from keeping women overnight
in custody, in practice women are arbitrarily detained overnight and are sexualfy
abused both in police custody and in prisons. Upon release from prison, women
are often ostracized by their family and friends and barred from their nomes.
In the widely publicized 1991 case of Aasia Ayub, in which the defendant alleged
physical and sexual assault when held overnight for questioning in a Rawalpindi
stationhouse, the Chief Justice of Pakistan in 1992 ordered the Riniab government
to file a petition against the judgment of a "speedy trial" court, whicn acquitted the
police officer defendant. The appeal is being heard by the Supreme Appellate Court.
In general, however, police accused of abuse are seldom tried and punished; they
are generally released on bail or quietly transferred to another district. Similarly,
ftolice assigned to investigate abuses by other police generally shield their colleagues
rom such charges, and courts seldom charge policemen with offenses other than
contempt of court. Those who attempt to bring charges against police are often
threatened and end up dropping the charges.
There continued to oe reliable reports that some ethnic/ political parties tortured
opponents and, in some cases, usea torture to enforce party discipline among their
own members. In the course of the military cleanup operation in Sindh, the army
turned up torture cells it alleged were used by the MQM for these purposes.
Many observers credibly maintain that the use of torture was common knowledge
but that the Government had previously deferred action against the MQM for fear
of losing its political support. At the time of the army action, the MQM was a member
of the national Government, with three ministers in the national Cabinet.
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. 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. All consensual extramarital sexual relations
are considered violations of the Hadood Ordinances. The predominantly male police
force reportedly uses the Hadood Ordinances to threaten people on the basis oi personal
and political animosities. The Committee for the Repeal of the Hadood Ordinances
estimates that over 2,000 women are in jails in Pakistan awaiting trial
under this law. It is estimated that three-fourths of the female prisoners in I&rachi
and Lahore are awaiting trial or are imprisoned under these Ordinances. Minor
children are also frequently held under the Hadood Ordinances, often charged with
adulteiy or with being "addicts" under the Hadood prohibition provision. Extended
imprisonment is the most common punishment for those convicted under the
Hadood Ordinances, although there have also been reports of floggings.
Convicted criminals and those in pretrial detention are hela in three classes of
prison facilities. Class "C" cells, which generally hold common criminals, suspected
terrorists, and low-level political activists. Th^r often have dirt floors, no furnishings,
and poor food. The use of handcufis and fetters is common. Prisoners in these
cells reportedly suffer the most abuse, such as beatings and being forced to kneel
for long periods. Conditions in "B" and "A" cells are markedly better, with the latter
reserved for "prominent" persons.
      d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Pakistani law permits the detention for
30 days under court order of persons suspected of threatening public order and safety.
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.
The Government made extensive use of police and paramilitary forces to prevent
opposition marchers from participating in the PPP's "long march" agitation campaign
in mid-November. Thousands of opposition activists were arrested. In most
cases the detainees were never charged with an offense, nor were legal justifications
for their detention provided. Detainees were held for extended periods ranging up
to 3 weeks. Most had been relesised by early December. The Government maintains
that such measures were necessary to prevent an illegal march on the capital.
In the first months of 1992, the Sindh government detained hundreds of opposition
activists, mostly from the PPP, accusing them of being "terrorists." Many of the
detained PPP woricers were held for long periods of time without charge or were
falsely implicated in criminal cases. Some of them, however, were charged with
what observers considered to be legitimate criminal counts. By midyear, the number
of opposition members (both PPP and Jeay Sindh, a Sindhi nationalist party) being
held, either under preventive detention or in pretrial status on criminal charges,
had swelled with the inclusion of MQM supporters. The press estimated that the
number detained through October was around 3,500. Former detainees claim that
prisoners under preventive detention frequently are held incommunicado. The PPP
made repeated and credible charges that many of the detained workers were moved
to station houses and detention centers far from their homes and that family members
were often unable to locate them for several days or weeks. The Sincui Hi^
Court reprimanded the army and Sindh police for detaining family members of un1163
derground MQM leaders in order to discover the whereabouts of the activists or to
force their surrender. The police sometimes detain citizens without charge in order
to extort payment for their release.
      e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The civil judicial system provides for an open
trial, cross-examination, representation by an attorney, and appeal of sentences. Attorneys
£ire 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. There is also a special Shari'a Court which operates
as an appellate court for cases relating to the enforcement of the Hadood Ordinances.
It also rules on whether laws are onensive to Islam.
In some cases, although provided for by law, bail was arbitrarily denied. Human
rights groups complain uiat bail is often set at unreasonablv hi^ levels for indigent
defendants. By presidential ordinance, the Code of Criminal Procedures was amended
in November to revoke the statutory right to bail in serious cases when the trial
lasted more than 2 years. Sinulariy, a I>ecember ordinance amendment provided
that no courts other than the special court may grant bail to any accused person
being tried before such a court. Both ordinances were widely seen as deliberate attempts
to prevent the granting of bail to Asif Zardari—husband of former Prime
Minister Bhutto—who has been detained since November 1990.
Although the courts have traditionally experienced pressure from the executive,
the high courts have exhibited a degree of independence, deciding a number of important
cases against the Government. There continued to be concerns, however,
that the judicia^s independence from the executive is not yet complete, especially
at levels below the highest courts. In particular, critics point to the Presidents
Sower to transfer high court justices or decline to grant new appointees tenure as
evices that could provide the executive undue influence over the provincial high
There were continuing charges that magistrates and police, under pressure to
achieve high conviction rates, persuade persons in custocly to plead guilty without
informing them of the consequences. Politically powerful persons also attempt to influence
magistrates' decisions and have used various forms of pressure, including
the threat of transfer, to do so. Magistrates also perform a wide variety of administrative
functions for the provincial governments, reducing the time they devote to
their judicial duties.
The judicial process continued to be impeded by bureaucratic inflating and inactivity
on a considerable scale. Although appointments in 1992 of new judges increased
the number of judges at the Lahore High Court to 38 (of 50 seats) and at
the Karachi High Court to 21 (of 28), many high court seats remained vacant.
Scores of positions in the lower magistracy also remained unfilled. Dozens of people
are reportedly awaiting trial in Sindh jails who have been held for periods longer
than the sentence they would receive if convicted. Among these are Africans and
citizens of other South Asian countries jailed for having overstayed their visas or
for being involved in the drug trade.
Administration of justice in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is
normally the responsibility of the elders and maliks (appointed leaders) of individual
tribes who, in response to complaints, conduct a pubUc hearing according to the
dictates of Islamic law and tribal custom. There is no professional legal representation
for the accused. The usual penalties consist of fines, even for murder, although
the (jrovemment's political agents directing the assemblies of elders and maliks
(jirgas) have the authority to levy prison terms of up to 14 years. In more remote
areas outside the effective jurisdiction of the political agents, jirgas occasionally levy
harsher, unsanctioned punishments, including flogging or death by shooting or stoning.
Also in the FATA, paramilitary forces under the direction of the political agent
freauently perform punitive actions during enforcement operations. For example, in
raids on narcotics trafUcking facilities they have been known to bulldoze surrounding
homes as extrajudicial punishment of residents for having tolerated nearby
criminal activity. Similarly, vigilante groups have increased their activities within
the FATA, administering public floggings for drug trafUcking, theft, for disrespect
to women, and even for shaving off one's beard, considered to be an act of deliberate
disrespect toward the elders.
Cases referred to the Federal Shari'a Court 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 court are entitled to bail and lawyers of their choice.
A 1990 Shari'a court decision called for the Islamic concepts of Qisas (roughly an
"eye for an eye'O and Diyat ("blood money") to be made part of the Penal Code. The
Qisas and Diyat Ordinance, promulgated to comply witn the court ruling, was en1164
acted in 1990, amended twice in 1991, and remains in effect. The Ordinance allows
compensation to be paid to a victim's family in lieu of the accused receiving punishment.
The right to seek pardon or commutation is not available to defendants under
the Ordinance.
Under the Suppression of Terrorist Activities (Special Courts) Act of 1975, the
Government established special courts to try cases involving crimes of a "terrorist"
nature (e.g., murder and sabotage). In 1987 another ordinance was passed establishing
special "speedy trial" courts. The jurisdictional authority of both types of special
courts was modified under amendments made in 1988, and they have continued to
operate since that time. The Twelfth Constitutiontd Amendment, passed by Parliament
in July 1991, created another tier of special courts to deal with particularly
heinous crimes. Cases involving bomb blasts, sabotage, highway robberies, banditry,
or kidnaping may be brou^t before these courts, and the Government may transfer
cases from any other court to a special court, or from one special court to another
(in the same province).
In August 1991, the President promulgated new versions of the Terrorist Affected
Areas (Special Courts) Ordinance and the Special Courts for Speedy Trials Ordinance.
Under the new provisions, the provincial government's right to set up speedy
trial courts and to refer cases to these courts was made the exclusive domain of the
Federal Government. An appeal goes to a special court, the Supreme Appellate
Court, rather than to the high courts. In addition, the Government may refer a
broader range of cases to the special courts. Persons tried in these courts are
charged with violent criminal offenses, however, rather than nonviolent or jwlitical
Critics, including many lawyers and human rights monitors, believe the special
courts violate the principles of fair trial. Time constraints on investigations and
trials, including the strict limitation on adjournments, may detract from the
accused's right to an adequate defense. Some critics believe the special court procedures
have effectively repudiated the principle of the presumption of innocence.
They also cite the encroachment of the federal authorities upon the provincial government's
constitutional authority to administer justice and the inherent unfairness
of parallel courts to which cases may be more or less arbitrarily assigned. In 1991
a special unit was established in the Prime Minister's office to decide which cases
would be referred to the new speedy trial courts, a process that many see as having
become highly politicized. Another problem faced by those brought to trial under the
special courts is obtaining bail. Under the special courts provisions, bail is denied
if it appears to the court that there are reasonable grounds on which to believe the
accused committed a scheduled offense.
Government officials and some attorneys argue that, in spite of their disadvantages,
these courts are necessary to ease the judicial backlog; that all requirements
of the rules of evidence still apply, as well as the right to counsel; and that the
judges must meet the same standard as those appointed to a high court. They note
that decisions of the speedy trial courts may be appealed to the Supreme Court.
However, for these courts only one appeal is allowed and it may only be made
through a special appellate bench appointed bv the Government. The press reported
a number of convictions in these speedy trial courts, usually for illegal possession
of arms or kidnaping. In 1992 the Supreme Court did remand one case because the
sentence given appeared to be inappropriate to the section of the law under which
the accused was charged.
After the dissolution of the Bhutto government in 1990, President Ghulam Ishaq
Khan, citing a 1977 law, established special "accountability" tribunals to try members
of the previous federal and provincial governments on criminal and corruption
charges. Trials under these tribunals continued in 1992. Only members of the
Bhutto government, all of whom belong to the PPP, were charged with corruption
and misconduct, while no members of other political parties were brought to trial.
International observers maintain that the accountability tribunals do not meet
minimum standards for due process and that the trial procedures used could prevent
the accused from presenting a full defense. Some Pakistani attorneys and
judges, however, maintain that in practice the actual conduct of the tribunals has
nonetheless been balanced and fair.
The most prominent of the accused to be convicted, former law minister Iftikhar
Gilani, appealed his conviction in 1991. The Supreme Court's hearing of the appeal
was stUl under way late in 1992, and Gilani has retained his National Assembly
seat, which would be forfeited if his conviction stands, while the appeal is under
consideration. The remaining "Presidential references" cases, including seven
against Benazir Bhutto, are still before the accountability tribunals.
In the first months of 1992, legal proceedings against Asif Zardari, continued to
be held in closed session in the Landhi Prison. Concern was voiced that this process
could spark numerous "due process* abuses. Since the Sindh Hig^ Court's May 4
decision declaring iUegal the Federal Govemnaent's order to try two of the pentfing
civil cases against Zardari in the prison, only criminal proceedings against Zardari
have been held in the prison. Zardari has been held without bail for 2 years. He
has been acquitted on 8 of the 10 charaes the Government brought against him.
Since Zardan's acquittal in the so-called MQM firings case, his trials have been conducted
in an open courtroom.
Estimates as to the number of political prisoners in Pakistan vary widely, since
human rights groups disagree on tne definition of a political prisoner. Political activists
arrested on criminal oiarses as well as party woikers detained for political reasons
have been called politicalprisoners by some human ri^ts groups.
      f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
police are required by law to obtain a warrant before entering a private
home, this legal requirement is often ignored, particularly during arrests of suspected
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.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including
      a. Freedom of Speech and Press
Freedom of speech and the press is guaranteed
in the Constitution of Pakistan. Pakistanis generally discuss and debate public policy
issues freehr, but some laws restrict free speech. Laws against bringing Islam
or the armed forces into discredit or ridicule remain in force, and the Shari'a bill
signed by the President in 1991 calls for promoting Islam through the mass media
and the censoring of "objectionable" and "obscene material. Article 6 of the 1985
Constitution provides for the death penalty for those who damage the Constitution
by any act, wriich includes publishing statements against the spirit of the Constitution.
Reporters and editors exercise self-censorship in these areas.
The Snari'a Court decision of 1990 making death the punishment for anyone convicted
of intentionally uttering contemptuous remarks or offering insult to the
Prophet Muhammad, or to any of the prophets, was supported by the Federal Cabinet,
which voted in July 1991 to bring tlie Pakistani Penal Code into compliance
with the court's finding. Most of those accused of blasphemy are Ahmadis or Christians.
In November Gul Masih, a Christian, became the first person sentenced to
death for blasphemy. He and his brother were accused by a neighbor of having insulted
the Prophet of Islam and were arrested for blasphemy. 'The brother was released
after a month and a half in custody. Gul Masih's case is on appeal.
In 1992 a prominent sociologist and development worker, Akhtar Hameed Khan,
faced trial on blasphemy charges, brou^t by a disgruntled former employee, in two
jurisdictions. In both cases IQian is accused of publishing a document that blasphemes
the Prophet and defiles Islam. The charges appear to have been motivated
by personal vengeance. The blasphemy charge levelea against him in Karachi has
been dropped, and he anticipates the charge filed in the Punjab will be dropped in
the near future.
The press in Pakistan enjoys a remaricable degree of freedom compared to the
past, but some restrictions remain. A government-owned press trust still controls
two newspapers, an English-language oaily and an Urdu daily. Other holdings of
the National Press Trust have been privatized, however, as the Sharif Government
moved to fulfill its promise to disband it. One of the two main 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 radio and television stations and strictly controls
the news they cany. The Shalimar Television Network (STN), a semiprivate
television station established in 1990jprovides programs with considerable independence
from government oversi^t. STN began broadcasting Cable News Network
(CNN) programs in 1990; CNN is diown live, but segments that are considered socially
offensive are scrambled or blocked out for the local audience. Live CNN broadcasts
were disallowed for a brief period in November to permit government censors
to black out coverage of opposition activities before ainng the programs after an
houi^s delay. Satelhte television reception, which has become increasingly widespread,
is not susceptible to such censorship or scrambling. In June a policy of openness
in the electronic media was announced. In the latter half of 1992, opposition
activities received increasing television news coverage, althou^ it remained quite
limited in comparison to coverage of governmental activities.
The Shari'a Law did not include guidelines for censorship. However, after the passage
of the law, there was a signifKant increase in censorship of "objectionable ma1166
terial" on television. The Ministry of Information also keeps a close watch on advertisements
broadcast by STN, editing or removing those found objectionable. In 1992
critics objected to the strict enforcement of the requirement that women cover their
heads with a long head scarf in all locally producea television programming.
Since 1985 there has been relatively free discussion of government policies and
open criticism of the Government in the privately owned press. The press routinely
reports remarks critical of the Government made by opposition politicians, and editorials
reflect a broad spectrum of views. Grovemment newspapers and wire services,
however, are circumspect in their coverage of the news, ana criticism of the military
is rare. The Sharif Government continued to use the government press to project
the government line. The Government also exploits the newspapers dependence on
government advertising, an important source of revenue for tnem, as a way of influencing
editorial policy. In June government advertising in a national daily was
abruptly hslved in t espouse to the first of a series of articles critical of the current
Government; the paper was warned that all government advertising would be withdrawn
if further installments were published. The paper stopped the series but continued
printing stories critical of the Government.
The Government in 1992 ceased exercising control over the quota of newsprint allocated
to publications. Importation of newsprint is freeW allowed, with tariffs paid
by all parties in proportion to the amount they import. The Government also significantly
eased requirements for launching new publications.
Government oflicials often provide informal "advice" on stories, and the advice is
often followed. One weekly. The Friday Times, has frequently been a sharp critic
of the Grovemment, ignoring oflicial press "advice." It receives no government advertising
but continues to be pressured in the form of threats of violence, including
rape and kidnaping, against its editor and publisher and their children.
in September charges of sedition were brought against a reporter, the editor-inchief,
and editor of a major newspaper group for publication of a poem sharply critical
of the Government. The Government ordered that the case be heard in the
speedy trial court but withdrew the action afl«r the Pakistani press and political
leaders charged the Government with assaulting freedom of the press. The almost
universal condemnation of the Government's decision to press its sedition charges
prompted it to reconsider and withdraw the case.
The final version of the Shari'a bill contained a provision limiting the use of confidential
sources in press stories about the Government or prominent politicians.
While no journalist has been accused under this provision, some observers fear it
may be used to restrict press reporting. A 1989 press act allows journalists access
to all federal and provincial government files except "highly sensitive defense files."
Under this act, puolication permits are still required but in theory may be obtained
at the local level; in practice, however, journalists say that they have never been
allowed access to any government files.
A print, press, and publications ordinance requires the registration of printing
presses ana newspapers and allows the Government to confiscate newspapers or
magazines deemea objectionable.
At the beginning of 1992, two cases of contempt of court were registered against
a national daily. The action was taken in the hign court of Sindh against comments
published on a special tribunal's findings in the widely publicized Veena Hayat rape
case. The case is still being heard.
A human rights group reported the unlawful detention and torture in April of four
journalists covering a by-election in Sanghar. Police and armed oflicials of the provincial
government reportedly dragged the journalists from their vehicle, beat them
with rifle butts, and tnreatened to kill them. Two managed to escape, but the other
two were held for interrogation and were severely beaten. The district magistrate
eventually apologized to the journalists, but the police superintendent reportedly advised
them not to file a complaint or publish photographs they had taken of election
In September and November, police attacked journalists and photographers in
Islamabad who were recording police action against opposition protestors. Threats
and harassment, including arrests on trumped-up charges, continued against journalists
throughout Pakistan. The lack of government action in response to these
events, coupled with public criticism of the press by high government oflicials, led
to concern that the Clovemment was not doing enough to prevent violence against
the press.
Academic freedom is generally recognized by government and university authorities.
A threat to academic freedom, however, is found in the atmosphere of violence
and intolerance fostered by student organizations which typically are tied to political
parties. On campuses, well-armed groups of students of varying political persuasions
clash frequently and intimidate other students, instructors, and administra1167
tors on matters of language, syllabus, examination policies, doctrine, and dress. On
July 1, the Supreme Court issued an interim order banning student politics from
all educational institutions. The provincial governments are preparing proposals for
the implementation of the decision, which requires entering stuaents and their parents
to pledge that the students will not take part in politics on campus. Those who
violate the oath will face expulsion. Those already enrolled must also renounce participation
in politics.
Literary and creative works are generally free of censorship. Obscene literature,
a category broadly defined by the Government, is subject to seizure. Authorities
have occasionally banned or confiscated books and magazines dealing with sensitive
political topics. However, dramas and documentaries on once taboo subjects, including
corruption, social privilege, narcotics, violence against women, and female inequality,
are aired on Pakistani television. Conservative religious and political
groups have been active in enforcing their own code of morality on Pakistani society.
There is concern that the Shari'a bill's passage in 1991 has bolstered these groups'
efforts by placing greater pressure on individuals to conform to Islamic sensibilities.
      b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Peaceful assembly was permitted
in most cases, although district magistrates occasionally 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. This section
was invoked in July in Karachi, allegedly to prevent opposition demonstrations, and
remains in eflect. Section 144 is frequently employed in the capital for the same reason.
Section 144 was imposed in Islamabad and extended to Rawalpindi in November
to discourage the opposition from mtirching on the federal capital. The usual
route for processions in Lahore was also off-limits to such groups during parts of
November and December.
For the most part, political leaders were able to travel freely and address large
rallies. Leaders of politicoreligious parties were sometimes barred from travel to certain
areas. The Federal and the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) governments
issued extemment orders to prevent PPP cochairperson Benazir Bhutto from entering
Islamabad-Rawalpindi and the NWFP for a period of 30 days beginning November
18. She was forcibly detained and flown out of the capital area on November
18. The orders were lifted on November 26.
      c. Freedom of Religion
Pakistan is an Islamic republic with a population that
is 97 percent Muslim. The Constitution as now amended requires all laws to be consistent
with Islam. Generally, members of minority groups may practice their own
religion openly, maintain links with coreligionists m other countries, and travel for
religious purposes.
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. Although enabling legislation has yet to be passed,
some minority groups fear that the 1991 Shari'a law's goal of "Islamizing" all aspects
of Pakistan's government and society may further restrict freedom to practice
their religion. In practice, the religious legislation has encouraged an atmosphere
of reli^ous intolerance which has led to acts of violence directed at Ahmadis and
Christians. In the wake of the destruction of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya, India,
angry mobs attacked Christian and Hindu homes and places of worship at several
places in Pakistan. The Government promised compensation to the victims, but
numan rights monitors believe it could nave taken stronger measures to protect the
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,
look on themselves as Muslims, for whom many Muslim practices are an impwrtant
feature of the practice of their religion. In 1984 the Grovemment made it illegal for
an Ahmadi to call himself a Muslim and banned Ahmadis from using Muslim terminology.
Legislation passed in 1986, apparently aimed at Ahmadis, making blaspheming
the prophet Muhammad a capital offense was upheld by the Shari'a Court
in 1990 and supported by the Federal Cabinet in 1991. In 1992 the Senate unanimously
adopted a bill to amend the blasphemy law so that the death penalty is
mandatory in cases of conviction for defiling the name of the Prophet Muhammad.
In 1992 there were new reports of the forced conversion of female members of the
Ahmadi sect. 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. Early in 1992 police raided an Ahmadi house of worship in
Kotri (Sindh), arresting all the worshipers at their prayers. Some of those detained
were reportedly beaten and abused at the police station.
In 1992 Ahmadis were again detained for displaying the Islamic Profession of
Faith (Kalima) and other Koranic verses. Two of those detained without bail were
charged with blasphemy for having translated the Koran into a regional Pakistani
language. Many Ahmadis were eventually released, but several were tried, convicted,
and received prison sentences. On February 25 in Sargodha, a magistrate
sentenced four Ahmadis to 8 years' rigorous imprisonment and a fine of approximately
$32 for having built an Ahmad! house oi worship on their own land. Anti-
Ahmadi plaintiffs had charged that the "non-Muslim" place of worship injured their
religious feelings.
In March a public notice for applicants to a general nursing course in Lahore required
candidates to submit a statement saying, in effect, that they were not
Ahmadis. On July 15 the Lahore High Court reserved judgment on several bail applications
for a family, including a 9-month old child, against whom a case had been
registered for using Islamic phrases on a wedding invitation. Three Muslim neighbors
of the Ahmadi family were also accused of blasphemy for providing the invitation
cards to the Ahmadis. The father of the bride-to-be has been jailed since May
Hindus complain of continued kidnapings and forced conversion of young women,
desecration of^Hindu shrines and temples, disruption of prayer services, and the
burning of Hindu texts as well as the torture of detained Hindus. Christians have
had dimculty obtaining permission from local and federal officials to build new
churches and continue to work through the courts to regain possession of educational
institutions nationalized during the 1970's.
AH minority groups expressed concerns about the Government's order that the national
identity card include designation of the holder's religion. Pakistani passports
already carry designation of religion. Ahmadis find the required statement of religious
fiffiliation on passports especially vexing as it effectively prevents them from
performing the religious pilgrimage to Mecca, the hajj. The decision to include religion
on the identity card, a longstanding proposal of the Islamists, was not submitted
to Parliament and has been condemned oy a broad spectrum of Pakistanis. It
spariied violent demonstrations by the Christian community in Lahore and threatens
to polarize further Pakistan's religious communities.
In Balochistan, a sectarian political party pushed to have a group of heterodox
Muslims known as Zikris declared a non-Muslim minority. The provincial government
arrested 29 anti-Zikri activists who attempted to prevent the group from making
its annual local pilgrimage.
      d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Pakistanis generally enioy freedom of movement within the country. In
1992 the Sharif Government banned certain politico-religious leaders from traveling
to certain districts or provinces for specified time periods through use oT
"extemment" notices. As noted earlier, opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was forbidden
entry to the federal capital and the ISWFP for a period in November.
Pakistanis are generally free to travel abroad. Travel to Israel is legally prohibited,
but Pakistanis nevertheless succeed in traveling to Jerusalem for religious purposes.
Restrictions have been lifted on travel of Pakistanis to South Africa.
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, remains
a tool available to the Government but was reportedly used by the Sharif
Grovemment only against serious criminals.
More than 3 million Afghans fled to Pakistan as a result of the Soviet invasion
of Afghanistan and the ensuing civil war there. The treatment of Afghan refugees
by the national and provincial governments has generally been exemplary. The
movement and employment of Afghans in Pakistan has generally not been restricted,
and many Afghans reside outside the camps set aside for them in the
NWFP and Balochistan. With the change of government in Kabul, however, hundreds
of thousands of Afghans returned to their homes in the spring and early summer.
At the same time, the outbreak of new fighting in Kabul among different factions
of the Government sparked a new flow of thousands of refugees, including
many Sikhs and Hindus, into Pakistan. In August the Government attempted to
seal the border, but traffic, human and commercial, continued to flow in both directions
over the traditionally porous line.
Hundreds of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants are held in prisons throughout Pakistan,
charged with immigration violations. Almost all of these detainees are without
the documents necessary to prove Bangladeshi 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 the influx continues, and few are able or willing
to return to Bangladesh. Many are released from jail into the custody of their
exploiters, and the cycle repeats itself. Nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) provioe
legal assistance to these Bangladeshi women and girls, but their legal ana social
proolems remain largely unsolved.
Similarly, the repatriation to Pakistan of the Biharis (Urdu-speaking immigrants
from the Indian state of Bihar who went to East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, at the
time of partition in 1947) continued to be a contentious issue. Approximately
250,000 Biharis have been in refiigee camps in Bangladesh since 1971, waiting to
be brought to Pakistan. Their repatriation continues to be a Pakistani political issue
tied to the country's various ethnic problems. While the Mohajir community, made
up of Pakistanis who emigrated from India during partition, actively supports
Bihari repatriation, ethnic Sindhis oppose the move. Following the August visit to
Pakistan of Bangladesh's Prime Minister, the Government of Pakistan announced
that approximately 12,000 Biharis would be flown from Dhaka to Lahore by the end
of 1992. The first group of some 3,000 families would be settled in Punjab rather
than Sindh. Thereafter, repatriation would take place in phases, as funds become
available and further housmg is completed. By the end of the year no repatriations
had begun and, while Pakistani officials were still saying they supported such movements,
no firm dates were given for the commencement of repatriations.
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
peacefiilly. The President, who is incBrectly elected, is Jgven the power to dissolve
ttie government by Amendment 8 to the Constitution. This authority is controversial.
All Pakistanis aged 21 and over have the right to vote by secret ballot in elections.
Political parties have been allowed to operate freely since the lifting of martial law
in 1985 and 1986, and in 1988 the Supreme Court struck down a law banning unregistered
poUtical parties from participating in elections.
Local governments and the provincial and national assemblies are directiy elected.
The Senate is elected by the members of the four provincial assemblies. Tne President
is indirectly elected by an electoral college consisting of the members of the
national and provincial assemblies and the Senate. The Constitution provides that
members of the national and provincial assemblies shall serve terms of 5 years, unless
the assembly is dissolved. The President is elected every 5 years, with the next
election due in October-November 1993, and senators are elected for 6-year terms.
The more than 2 million Pultun ethnic people living in the Federalhr Administered
Tribal Areas (FATA) do not participate in direct election of their National Assembly
representatives and have no representation in the NWFP provincial assemblv.
In keeping with local tractions, FATA's National Assembly members are elected
by the tribal maliks who have been appointed in the governor's name by the
central Government's political agents. People living in this area have expressed dissatisfaction
at having no representation in any legislature. The vast majority of
Pushtun ethnic people, however, live outside the FATA and, while retaining their
tribal identity, are fuUy integrated into the political, social, and economic life of
Local by-elections were held for provincial and National Assembly seats in several
constituencies in 1992. On March 4, the Punjab provincial government successfully
held by-elections in Jhang, a center of sectarian strife. However, credible reports describe
intimidating police presence and evidence of extensive election-rigging by the
Government in the April 28 by-election in Sanghar (Sindh). Journalists and opposition
polling agents were assaulted, and opposition supporters were arrested and otherwise
prevented from voting.
Although women participate in government, gender roles make it difficult for most
women to succeed m politics, and women are underrepresented in political life at
all levels. At the federal level, the statute creating 20 reserved seats for women in
the National Assembly lapsed in 1990, and its renewal was not supported by the
fovemment then led by Benazir Bhutto. In 1990 only six women were nominated
y the political parties to stand as candidates for general seats in the next Assembly
and of these only two were elected. In November 1991, the Grovemment announced
that the Cabinet had passed a draft of a bill reintroducing women's seats to the National
Assembly, but no further action had been taken by the end of 1992.
Women are often dissuaded 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 (seclusion of women from public observation)
restrictions; these women are unwilling to unveU 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.
The Constitution requires that the President and Prime Minister be Muslims. Although
members of minority religious groups have held political office and are represented
in the economic, political, and social life of the country, they are not permitted
to vote in Muslim constituencies. They must instead seek office and cast
their ballots in countrywide, at-large constituencies reserved for them in the national
and provincial assemblies. This arrangement has been widely criticized by minority
and human rights groups. Many 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
ofAlleged Violations ofHuman Rights
Domestic human ri^ts 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 ri^^ts organizations have been permitted
to visit Pakistan and travel freely.
Section 5. Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Language, or Social Status
In 1991 the Government passed the Shari'a bill, a law aimed at bringing all aspects
of government and society in Pakistan into conformity with its views on the
tenets of Islam. Though human rights activists and women's groups feared that the
law would have a harmful effect on women's and minority rights, the final version
included language ensuring that women's and minority rights protected under the
Constitution would not be affected. No enabling legislation has been passed, and the
Shari'a law's direct impact on these groups remained limited. Nonetheless, its passage
influenced popular attitudes and perceptions, creating an atmosphere in which
discriminatory treatment against women and non-Muslims is more readily accepted,
if not condoned.
Aside from the specific Shari'a legislation, some Islamic leaders continued to
stress a conservative interpretation of Islamic injunctions to justify discrimination
against women. It remains accepted practice to assign women subordinate roles in
the civU, political, and managerial hierarchies.
Many Pakistanis interpret the Koran's injunctions on modesty to mean that
women should remain either at home or veiled. In rural areas, althou^ women in
small farm families generally work alongside men in the fields, they remain subordinate
to men and suffer discrimination in education, employment, and legal rights.
These attitudes have contributed to a very low adult female literacy rate, estimated,
for example, to be only 4 percent among rural women.
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. In September a human rights petition
filed in Lahore challenged the laively rural practice of marrying one's daughter
"to the Koran" (an oath taken on the Koran which prevents her from marrying another
person), so as to maintain control over her share of property. 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.
In 1992 the Supreme Court invalidated the requirement that a husband give written
notice of a Avorce to a local union council. Thus, the husband's statement of
divorce, with or without witnesses, is the defining legal step and one which he can
confirm or deny at will. The woman, lacking written proof of divorce, remains legally
and socially vulnerable. For example, should she remarry she could be chained with
adultery if her former spouse were then to deny having divorced her.
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, witn a small number of women entering the commercial and
public sectors. Karachi lawyers estimate that in recent years the number of women
judges in civil courts there has increased so that they represent about 30 percent
of uie total. There are reports that women who apply to professional colleges face
discrimination. Women may now participate in international athletic competition,
although few do.
A 1989 ruling of the Federal Shari'a Court upheld the distinction under the
Hadood Ordinances between evidence presented in court by a man and that presented
by a woman. The court ruled tnat only men could testify 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,
although most human rights activists agree there is a problem. 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 in recent years about the unresponsiveness or even
involvement of police in incidents of abuse or rape of women. A Karachi-based group
called War Against Rape (WAR) was formed in 1990 to change attitudes about rape
and to assist rape victims. It continues to be an effective educational and awareness-
raising group. Other nongovernmental organizations are also active in promoting
women s issues.
Women's organizations operate throughout the country but primarily in Pakistan's
urban centers. Many concentrate on educating women about existing legal
rights. Other groups concentrate on providing legal aid to poor women in prison who
may not be able to afford an attorney.
In 1992 the press continued to draw attention to the problem of women being
burned to death, allegedly in kitchen stove accidents. Mamr of these deaths are believed
to be murders perpetrated by husbands or in-laws, lliese incidents continued
as they had in past years, and women's groups saw little hope of the problem being
solved. Women also continued to be killed or mutilated by male relatives who suspect
them of adultery. Few such cases are investigated seriously.
There is much discrimination against religious minority groups in employment
and education. In Pakistan's early years, minorities were able to rise to the senior
ranks of the military and dvil service. Today, many are unable to rise above midlevel
Discrimination on ethnic and linguistic grounds underlies ethnic conflicts in several
areas. In Sindh there continue to be conflicts between Sindhis and Mohajirs
(Urdu-speaking immigrants originally from India). Non-Punjabis throughout Pakistan
resent what they see as Puiyabi domination of the bureaucracy, the police, and
the armed forces. Ofiicially designated as "non-Muslims," AhmacUs are subject to
discrimination and harassment and have limited chances for advancement in the
public sector. Young Ahmadis and their parents complain of increasing difliculty in
gaining admittance to good colleges, forcing many children to go overseas for higher
education. They complain that diarges are often filed against them for the purpose
of harassment or extortion and that the police will not accept their complaints when
they and their property are attacked; few cases ever come to trial.
Uiristians are unable to obtain a divorce under Pakistani law. Many Christians
fear the forced marriage of Christian women to Muslims. Many (Christians also believe
they are subject to harassment by the authorities; police constables camping
on the grounds of a major church in Lahore and the reported demolition of houses
in a (Hhristian colony on Easter day were examples in 1992. Christian groups rarely
press charges against the perpetrators of such incidents and believe that authorities
are unlikely to pursue such cases.
Social stratification also contributes to discrimination. Socially prominent Pakistanis
generally 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
accorded social "betters" in Pakistani society. Among minorities, there is a
belief that the authorities, even if they do not prosecute them, afford them less protection
under the law than is afforded Muslim citizens.
Section 6. Worker Rights
a, Tfie Right ofAssociation.—The right of industrial workers to form trade unions
is enunciated in the Industrial Relations Ordinance (IRO) of 1969 but is subject to
major restrictions in some emplojnment areas. In practice, labor laws place significant
constraints on the formation of unions and their ability to function effectively.
Workers in export processing zones (EPZ) are prohibited from forming trade unions.
As part of its 1992-1993 trade policy, the (Jovemment extended this prohibition to
all export-oriented units that export at least 70 percent of their production.
The right of unions to strike 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 any strike has contmued unresolved
for 30 days. Strikes continue to be rare; when they do occur, they are usually
illegal and short. In August the National Industrial Relations Commission prohibited
a bank employees federation from staging a 1-day strike in support of tne federation
president, who apparently was arrested for political reasons. There are also
Seriodic work slowdowns on the part of low-ranking government employees. Police
o not hesitate to crack down on worker demonstrations.
Union members still make up only about 6 percent of the industrial labor force
and 3 percent of the total estimated woik force. Contract labor continues to flourish,
undercutting the power of the unions and exploiting workers willing to work on tem-
¥oraiy contracts. These workers receive fewer benefits and have no job security.
rade 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 in 1988, it successfully organized trade unions
under the banner of the People s Labor Bureau (PLB). The PLB's main competitors
are the Jamaat-i-Islami's National Labor Federation and the MQM-backed labor
unions. Labor federations are free to affiliate with international federations and confederations.
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 bargain collectively,
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
bai^ainrng. No Pakistani government has yet made any serious effort to change the
laws criticized in the ILO reports.
While expressing satisfaction with a government report that it had lifted the ban
on trade union activities in the Pakistan International Airlines Corporation, the ILO
in June continued to criticize the failure to do the same with respect to EPZ's, radio,
television, and hospital employees, as well as its failure to correct the ban on strikes
and other deficiencies. Pakistan was also asked to amend any provision of the IRO,
the Press and Publications Ordinance, and the Political Parties Act which impose
compulsory prison labor in a manner inconsistent with ILO Convention 105. In response
to a request by Pakistan, the ILO agreed to provide technical assistance to
bringthe country's labor laws into conformity with the world body's conventions.
h.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 lo of the IRO 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 rij^t to organize and bargain collectively under the IRO, 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, health care,
oil and gas production, and transport.
For each mdustiy 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 hsLS been
barred, individual wage boards decide wage levels. Disputes are adjudicated before
the National Industrial Relations Commission. A woricer'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. Most unions continue to call for the abolition of the
The ILO has advised the Government that a 1980 ordinance permitting it to exeinpt
EPZ's from the provisions of any law is inconsistent with the requirements of
ILO Conventions 87 and 98. An EPZ, with its own labor regulations, including regulations
governing how workers may bargain collectively, is functioning in Karachi.
Over the years the ILO also expressed concern about the ban on trade union activities
in several specific organizations, including the government-run Pakistan Television
station. It asked that collective bargaining rights be given to bank officers
and employees.
      c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Forced labor has always been specifically
prohibited by law. However, critics argue that the ESA's limitation on some
employees' rights 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. However, the Government took
no further action on the ESA issue, and the ILO expressed disappointment that legislation
inconsistent with ILO conventions on forced labor had not yet been repealed.
Illegal bonded labor is widespread. Bonded labor is common in the brick, carpet,
glass, and fishing industries and is found among agricultural and construction work1173
ers in rural areas. Estimates on the number of people in Pakistan bonded to their
employers by debt range as hi^ as 20 million, several million of whom are children.
In the brick kiln inoustnr, a workers' association succeeded in bringing the pli^t
of bonded brickmakers in Punjab before the Supreme Court. TThe 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. The Court granted laborers the ri^t to work wherever they wished and to
make arrangements other than bonded labor to pay their existing debts.
As a result of ILO pressure and continuing publicity about this issue, new legislation
was drafted to address the bonded labor problem. Adopted in March, the Bonded
Labor Svstem (Abolition) Act of 1992 is the first law oflicially recognizing the
existence of bonded labor in Pakistan. It outlaws the bonded labor system, cancels
all existing bonded debts, and forbids lawsuits for the recovery of existing bonded
debts. In principle, the law enables laborers to work where they wish and ^ould
result in all bonded debt recoveiy cases brou^t by employers being throMm out of
court. The new legislation has not been fuUv implemented but it oners a basis for
court cases which could improve the bonded labor situation. In September, for exam-
Sle, the Lahore Hi^ Court freed 38 brick kUn workers, including women and diilren,
who had been kept in forced labor camps under armed guard for about a year.
However, little progress was made in the industries employing bonded laborers. Resistance
to the new law has been strong, reports of violations continue to appear,
and the workers' movement is divided over the issue. Due to the lack of employment
alternatives, many workers have voluntarily returned to bonded labor at the kilns
and elsewhere.
      d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
Despite legal limitations, child
labor is common. Child labor is limited by at least four separate statutes and Article
11 of the Constitution. The confusing definition of what constitutes a "child" was
improved by the National Assembly's adoption of the Employment of Children Act
of 1991, which defined the child as "a person who has not completed his 14th year
of age." The Act also set 7 hours as tne maximum workday for a child, inclusive
of iTiour's rest after 3 hours of continuous work. Although the Act reiterated restrictions
against the employment of children in hazardous industries, it did little
to promote much needed enforcement mechanisms and remains essentially
A Punjab Labor Department study concluded that about a million children are enfaged
in carpet weavmg throu^out Pakistan. In addition to suffering work-related
ealth problems and receiving oeatings if they try to avoid work, these children remain
uneducated, 42 percent never having attended school and 58 percent having
dropped out.
News reports highlighted the continued smuggling of young Pakistani children to
the Gulf countries. Most of the boys, many of vmom are preschool age, are used as
jockevs in camel races. Thousands of young Pakistanis were reportecfiy smuggled to
the Gulf in recent years. In some cases the children, usually from rural areas, were
kidnaped. In other cases, poor parents are said to have sold their children to tiie
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
business is also widespread. Althoii^ 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 of 33 million is made up of workers under age 18. The employment of children
is sometimes linked with stories of child prostitution and abuse.
      e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
Labor regulations in Pakistan are governed by
federal statutes applicable throudiout 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, is not enough to support even a small fainily. Although the IMme
Minister has promised to more than double the minimum wage, implementing legislation
has not yet been introduced. 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 in part to a
lack of education, many workers are unaware of the regulations protecting their
Provincial governments, which are responsible for enforcing labor regulations,
have generalfy been ineffective. 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 miprove them. Organized labor is occasionally able to press for improvements,
and some legal protections apply, although they are weakly enforced.