LAHORE - The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has voiced concern over prevailing political situation and rise in religious extremism.

A statement issued at the conclusion of the two-day autumn meeting of the HRCP Council the other day said: “The HRCP Executive Council notes with great dismay the addition of several alarming dimensions to the many human rights challenges in the country since the council last met in April. It has been considered imperative to draw attention to various issues.

“The political situation characterised by sit-ins has taken attention away from other more important issues. One of the outcomes has been strengthening of sectarian forces. There has been an unchecked rise in religious extremism and the situation has worsened for religious and sectarian minority communities. A sequence of attacks on Sikhs in Peshawar, assaults on Hindus in Umerkot and on temples elsewhere in Sindh, target killing of an Ahmadi doctor in Mirpur Khas, killing of Ahmadis in Gujranwala, of Zikris in Awaran.

The murder of Rashid Rehman for daring to defend a blasphemy accused whose case no one else was willing to take and the complete lack of interest of the authorities to go after his killers has further encouraged impunity”, HRCP stated.

“The ongoing Karachi operation led by Rangers has not proven effective. Complaints of people being picked up regularly surface and are not adequately addressed. The judicial process in this respect is very slow. Targeted killings are also regularly being reported from Balochistan, where incidents of enforced disappearance and dumping of mutilated bodies also continue, though the number of incidents appears to be on decline,” the statement reads.

The HRCP expresses grave concern at the rising incidents of violence against women and minor girls all over Pakistan, despite the enactment of seven laws over the past decade, and calls upon all the provincial governments to enact strong laws, as well as taking effective measures for their implementation; and calls upon the public and private media to adhere to its Voluntary Code of Gender-Sensitive Ethics, adopted over a decade ago.