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HRW urges Pakistan to protect Shia Muslims

Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called on the government of Pakistan [press release] on Wednesday to ensure that minority Shia Muslims [Islam Awareness backgrounder] in Pakistan are protected from attacks by Sunni militant groups. HRW noted that attacks against Shia communities have increased recently and that 320 Shia have been killed in targeted attacks in 2012. HRW Asia Director Brad Adams suggested that Pakistan has turned a blind eye to these attacks and should ensure that the government should hold the militant groups accountable for the attacks:

Deadly attacks on Shia communities across Pakistan are escalating. The government's persistent failure to apprehend attackers or prosecute the extremist groups organizing the attacks suggests that it is indifferent to this carnage.
Although Pakistani authorities claim to have arrested dozens of suspects in attacks against Shia, HRW contended that few people have been charged and held responsible for their actions.

Pakistan has been under pressure recently to improve human rights conditions. In June UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] urged the Pakistani government to continue to work to improve its human rights situation [JURIST report]. In particular, Pillay stressed that the government must work to eliminate institutionalized discrimination and to prevent torture and corruption. In May Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari signed a bill authorizing the creation of an independent human rights commission [JURIST report] in Pakistan. Last year the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan [official website], a non-government organization, harshly criticized the Pakistani government [JURIST report] for its poor human rights record and called on government officials to fix the human rights abuses occurring in the country.

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