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Pakistan's Security Fears

Interviewee: Asma Jahangir, Chairperson, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
Interviewer: Jayshree Bajoria, Staff Writer, CFR.org
October 29, 2009

More than 250 people have been killed in recent weeks by a series of bombings that have targeted Pakistan's major cities, including the capital Islamabad. Asma Jahangir, chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent body of lawyers and activists, says people in Pakistan are "tremendously afraid" because of deteriorating security conditions. She says recent attacks, especially those targeted at the security forces, have also raised concerns about the country's ability to combat terrorism. "There is a crack within the security forces," she says.

Jahangir, also a lawyer in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, currently serves as the UN Rapporteur of Freedom of religion or belief. She expresses concern regarding human rights violations in army operations in the country's northwest and the use of tribal militias by the military to fight the insurgents. "We feel very uneasy about it because it is certainly the responsibility of the state" to fight the militants, not the militias, she says.

On rising anti-Americanism in Pakistan, she says the loss of innocent lives in Pakistan since 2001 because of its cooperation in U.S.-led "War on Terror" is a point of much contention. "There is resentment because we are not sure as a country, and as a people, what is going to be the U.S. policy for the future," she says. On the issue of political reforms in the tribal areas, Jahangir says security must be restored before any reforms can be effective.

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