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Amnesty International Says Zardari's UK Visit Must Deliver Human Rights Gains in Northwest Pakistan

WASHINGTON - Pakistan's
President Asif Ali Zardari should use his United Kingdom visit to announce
reforms in the country's northwest that will help combat human rights
violations, Amnesty International said today.

President Zardari is due to arrive in the United Kingdom on August 3rd,
amid increased focus by international leaders on Pakistan's response to
the Taliban-led insurgency in its northwest tribal areas and in Afghanistan.

"The conditions are right for Pakistan to show it is serious about political
solutions to the human rights violations, poverty, and constitutional rights
vacuum in the northwest that allowed the Taliban to assert such control
there in the first place," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's director
for the Asia-Pacific.  

"The Pakistani people have suffered tremendously at the hands of the Taliban,
but a predominantly military response has led to more than a million civilians
still displaced and thousands of deaths while not dealing with the root
of the problem," said Zarifi.

Amnesty International is calling on President
Zardari to deliver on his promise made on August 14, 2009 to reform the
exclusionary laws that still govern the northwestern Federally Administered
Tribal Areas (FATA) and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North West
Frontier Province).

The Frontier Crimes Regulation is a colonial-era law that excludes the
population of FATA from the protection of the national courts and Constitution
of Pakistan, allowing for collective military punishment and restricted
electoral rights.  
"President Zardari should take this opportunity to answer his critics
by announcing specific, major reforms, like the abolition of the Frontier
Crimes Regulations that treat northwestern Pakistan like a human rights-free
zone" said Zarifi.  


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Amnesty International is also calling on Zardari and U.K. Prime Minister
David Cameron to incorporate real human rights benchmarks in their counter-terror
efforts, and into development aid to Pakistan.  

Political reform and development will improve the region's human rights,
and strengthen accountability and rule of law, which need to be at the
core of any anti-terror strategy in Northwestern Pakistan, Amnesty International

"The UK and Pakistani government have to work together to deliver human
rights and development for the people of the northwest. Aid to these regions
will be wasted in the absence of political reform and guarantees of human
rights," said Zarifi.

The UK has pledged £600 million (approximately $790 million USD)
 over 5 years in humanitarian
aid to people affected by the conflict in the northwest, but needs to include
human rights benchmarks in how that money is used, and to push for an end
to enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention and mistreatment of detainees.

Amnesty International released its report As if Hell Fell On Me: the
Human Rights Crisis in Northwest Pakistan
in June, which portrayed
the civilians of the northwest as caught in a human-rights free zone, between
Taliban rule and heavy-handed responses from the Pakistani military.


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Amnesty International is a global movement of millions of people demanding human rights for all people – no matter who they are or where they are. We are the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization.

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