Governance Deficits in the area of human rights

Pakistan's political sphere and administrative bodies are characterised by a lack of transparency, corruption, and players pursuing vested interests. While the separation of powers does exist, the parliament and the judiciary only play their oversight role to a limited extent. In the recent past, restrictions have been imposed repeatedly on the activities of civil society organisations.

People in a poor district of Lahore, Pakistan

People in a poor district of Lahore, Pakistan

People in a poor district of Lahore, Pakistan

A large proportion of the people only have limited access to public services. Accordingly, popular confidence in government entities is relatively low. In 2021, the Corruption Perceptions Index (External link) published by Transparency International ranked Pakistan 140th out of the 180 countries assessed, down 16 points from its previous position.

There are anti-terrorism laws that have been tightened several times, suspending a number of fundamental rights. Among other things, the powers of security agencies have been expanded significantly. In 2015, the death penalty was reinstated. According to the human rights organisation Amnesty International, more than 632 death sentences were passed in 2019, and at least 14 people were executed.

Although Pakistan has ratified the main international human rights conventions, implementation is often inadequate. In rural regions in particular, women are largely excluded from public life. They also experience discrimination in judicial proceedings.

Freedom of religion and freedom of the press are subject to restrictions. In particular, there is an article in the criminal code that makes blasphemy a punishable offence. This article is frequently misused to discriminate against religious minorities. While Pakistan has a well-developed media landscape, government entities and extremist organisations frequently put pressure on critical journalists, threaten them and obstruct their work. As a result, social media, which are less easily controlled, are playing a more and more important role in the formation of public opinion.