News / Asia

Pakistan PM Defends Taliban Peace Talks

Pakistani paramilitary troops inspect burning NATO trucks in the Pakistani tribal area of Jamrud near Peshawar, Pakistan, May, 5, 2014.
Pakistani paramilitary troops inspect burning NATO trucks in the Pakistani tribal area of Jamrud near Peshawar, Pakistan, May, 5, 2014.
Ayaz Gul
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is continuing to defend his government’s efforts to tackle Islamic extremism and militancy through peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban.  But critics say the controversial floundering peace dialogue is instead emboldening Islamist forces in Pakistan, adding to the concerns of religious minorities.
 
Civil society groups and moderate political forces are opposed to Prime Minister Sharif’s policy of engaging the Pakistani Taliban in peace talks. These critics maintain that the outlawed alliance of militant groups has killed tens of thousands of Pakistanis as part of its plan to reject the constitution and impose its brand of Islam through violent means.
 
Even though the dialogue has made little progress since it was launched two months ago, Prime Minister Sharif told a gathering of Pakistani diplomats in Islamabad Tuesday that the process still could succeed in ending the deadly militancy.
 
“We hope that our sincere efforts would yield the desired results and help turn the tide of violence, which is preventing our nation from realizing its true potential,” Sharif said.

But local and foreign observers have reported alarming deterioration in human rights areas in Pakistan. The U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom in its latest report expressed concern over increasing threats facing minority communities in Pakistan, saying conditions have “hit an all-time low.”
 
An independent watchdog, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), in its latest report has said that the human rights situation has not shown any improvements in the past six months, adding that “more reasons for alarm have surfaced”. It has condemned attacks on places of worship belonging to non-Muslims. The commission says that there have been several attacks on Hindu temples, particularly in southern parts of Pakistan.
 
The organization’s secretary-general,  I. A. Rehman, said that insecurity felt by non-Muslims is reflected in the thousands of people leaving the country at a time when a rise in religious intolerance is compelling many to convert to Islam.
 
“The condition of minorities is getting worse by month. It is now nearly impossible for a blasphemy accused to have a trial in Pakistan. They cannot have lawyers, they cannot have safety they cannot have protection. So, this is becoming a very grave issue,” he said.
 
Pakistani law criminalizes blasphemy against Islam, the majority religion in the country. Critics say the law has been abused in recent years to target religious minorities.
 
Rehman said that the rise in religious intolerance under the Sharif government is a matter of grave concern for civil society activists in Pakistan.  
 
“The policies that are being followed are also creating problems. We are always for peace but we want to know on what conditions peace will be brought from the Taliban. Like many other civil society organizations we are full of apprehension that the only concession the state can give will be at the cost of women and minorities,“ said Rehman.
 
Pakistani security forces have conducted repeated offensives against militant groups entrenched in the country’s northwestern tribal areas but have not been able to uproot their bases. There have been peace talks and deals with militants previously but critics insist they have only allowed extremist groups time to regroup.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More