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

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid