Karachi/Lahore: A report released by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) criticises the ‘state’s absence, at best its ineffectiveness’ in protecting the marginalised hari community in Sindh, adding that their access to basic social and economic rights remains severely limited by ‘their status as landless tenants subject to a formidable feudal structure.’
Documenting testimonies from victims of enforced disappearances and their families, the report says that ‘the state has much to answer for in terms of its inability – or unwillingness’ to curb the practice, which appears to target supporters of Sindhi nationalist parties.
The report points out that discrimination against the province’s Hindu community is now ‘entrenched’: access to employment, fair wages and even accommodation has become more difficult. HRCP has also criticised the Sindh government’s failure to criminalise forced conversions. The report documents a case in Mirpurkhas, where two young Hindu boys were allegedly tortured and killed in police custody: a third, who survived, showed the HRCP team evidence of cigarette burns and a fracture.
In addition to speaking to small vendors affected by the anti-encroachment drive in Karachi and assessing the right to health in interior Sindh, HRCP interviewed students and faculty at Karachi University. The report documents the presence of Rangers on campus and their ‘needless policing of ordinary student activities’. Freedom of expression and association are equally at risk in the province, with pressure on both the media and civil society organisations from state agencies.
The report is available online.