South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) expresses deep concern at the growing religious terrorism in Pakistan that is daily targeting people on the basis of their faith. The first ten days of January alone has seen two major attacks on members of the Shia sect in Balochistan, including those from Hazara community, killing hundreds of people. The fact that banned sectarian groups openly claim responsibility and the government appears helpless or unwilling to act against them is a sad commentary on the state of callous disregard for human life.
The unchecked growth of religious militancy has also affected the work of NGOs, civil society and human rights defenders. Among those killed in the massacre in Quetta on 10 January was Irfan Khudi Ali, a committed rights activist who had stepped out of his house to help blast victims. Parts of the country have seen increasing violence against NGO workers, particularly women. They have been kidnapped or shot dead in broad daylight. Among those recently killed are female polio vaccinators who were performing their duties in Karachi and Peshawar.
SAHR calls upon the Government of Pakistan to act against militancy and terrorism with sustained political will and determination. It reminds the Pakistani government of its responsibility, under its own laws and under international human rights instruments it has signed, to provide protection to people on the basis of their ethnicity or religious beliefs. These commitments must be met in letter and spirit.
On behalf of SAHR,
Hina Jilani Dr. Nimalka Fernando