Asia Director of the Human Rights Watch (HRW), Brad Adams, sent a letter to the recently sworn-in Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan sharing a human rights agenda for the new government. The HRW urged the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government to make use of an important opportunity to create a rights-respecting government that abides by the rule of law and restores the public’s faith in democratic institutions.
HRW asked the government to secure “fundamental civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights in six areas: freedom of expression and attacks on civil society; freedom of religion and belief; violence against women and girls; access to education; restoring the moratorium on death penalty; and terrorism and counterterrorism abuses”.
The human rights watchdog asked the government to repeal the “draconic blasphemy law” and to take all necessary measures to end extrajudicial killings and arbitrary detentions and to prosecute those who are responsible.
The letter condemned media censorship and asked the PTI government to promote an atmosphere of tolerance and freedom of expression as, “the PTI has been a strong proponent of free expression, including on social media, to criticise state policy and press for change. An independent media is a key to robust dialogue that reflects public concerns. Human Rights Watch hopes that the PTI government will foster a culture of political tolerance for media criticism”.