HRW says Pak must probe extra-judicial killings in Swat

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New York, July 17 (ANI): The Pakistani government should immediately investigate reports of summary executions, torture, and mistreatment perpetrated during counterterrorism operations in the Swat valley, Human Rights Watch said on Friday.

Since September 2009, when the Pakistani military re-established control over the valley, Human Rights Watch has received numerous credible reports of extrajudicial executions allegedly committed by soldiers operating in Swat or police acting at the behest of the military.

Human Rights Watch has since February researched alleged human rights violations in Swat based on an initial list of 238 suspicious killings provided by local sources and the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Human Rights Watch has corroborated about 50 of these cases.

In no case examined by Human Rights Watch was a killing falsely reported, suggesting that the total number of killings is as high as or greater than those reported. The information for each case includes names or numbers of victims, place names, and dates. To date, the Pakistani military has not held any of the perpetrators accountable for these killings.

"The Pakistani military has yet to understand that a bullet in the back of the head is simply not the way to win hearts and minds in Swat," said Ali Dayan Hasan, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch.

"Killing terrorism suspects and their relatives in cold blood is vicious, illegal, and constitutes an appallingly bad counterterrorism practice that just creates more enemies,"Hasan added.

The reported cases of alleged extrajudicial killings in Swat follow a similar pattern. In mid-January, 12 corpses, including that of a prominent Taliban leader, Abu Faraj, were found near the Swat River riddled with bullets and bearing torture marks.

Human Rights Watch said that while reports of alleged summary executions linked to the military had declined in recent months, they had not ended. The military should investigate reported killings and send unequivocal orders down the chain of command that those responsible for such killings would be held accountable, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch noted that since the military regained control of the Swat valley, there had been a marked improvement in the overall security situation. Public floggings and hangings perpetrated under Taliban control have largely ended.

Local residents told Human Rights Watch that under military control, Taliban vigilante activities and tribunals havelso largely ended.

Human Rights Watch called upon the United States, the United Kingdom, and Pakistan's other military allies to urge Pakistani authorities to end abusive practices in Swat and to hold accountable all personnel, regardless of rank, responsible for serious human rights abuses.

Human Rights Watch called upon the United States to review the possible responsibility of military units receiving US military aid for alleged abuses in Swat and to take appropriate action. (ANI)

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