Pakistan

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Persistent violations
  • Trafficking of children [1]
  • Domestic violence and 'honour' related crimes [2]
  • Prevalence of early and forced marriages [3]
  • Acid attacks on girls [4]
  • Discrimination against girls [5]
  • Inadequate education provision, including lack of free and compulsory education (particularly affecting girls)[6]
  • Disparities in access to education for children living in rural areas compared to children in urban areas [7]
  • Recruitment of children for terrorist activities [8]
  • Child labour[9]

For full details, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, International Labour Organisation, Universal Periodic Review
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Universal Periodic Review
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, International Labour Organisation
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, International Labour Organisation



Introduction

Bordering Iran, Afghanistan, India and China, Pakistan sits at the crossroads between the Middle East, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Pakistan is a democratic republic, but has experienced several presidencies imposed by the military, the most recent of which came to a close in 2008. Journalists and human rights defenders face intimidation and threats from security forces and other armed groups, contributing to an environment where abuses and violence, particularly against women and girls, remain major problems.

Geography

The Indus Valley civilization is spread over much of what is presently Pakistan. The official name for the country is The Islamic Republic of Pakistan and it is located in the area where South Asia converges with the Middle East and Central Asia. It has a 1,046 kilometre (650 miles) coastline along the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman in the south. Pakistan is bordered by Iran and Afghanistan in the west, India in the east and China in the northeast. Pakistan is divided into four provinces, namely, North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan. The tribal belt adjoining NWFP is managed by the Federal Government and is named FATA i.e., Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas have their own respective political and administrative machinery, although certain parts are taken care of by the Federal Government. Pakistan’s terrain is an unusual mix of flat Indus plain in the east; mountains in the north and northwest; and plateau in the west of the country.

The country's capital is Islamabad.

Population and language

The population is 184.7 million, and the average life expectancy is 67 years. A third of its population is under 15 years of age. [1] Punjabis make up 48 per cent of the population. The rest consist of Pashtuns, Sindhis, Saraikis and Urdu speaking groups (which make up eight per cent). Pakistan continues to host some 1.7 million refugees, one of the largest populations of its kind in the world. Most are from Afghanistan and live in refugee settlements and urban areas.[2]

Urdu is the national language while English is the official language. (used by government ministries)[3] Other commonly used languages include Punjabi (which is spoken by 48 per cent of the population), Sindhi, Pashto and Balochi.

Politics

The separation in 1947 of British India into the Muslim state of Pakistan and largely Hindu India has led to a strained relationship between India and Pakistan, and the two nuclear-armed powers have on numerous occasions found themselves on the brink of renewed conflict. Pakistan's place on the world stage shifted after the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US. It dropped its support for the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and was propelled into the frontline in the fight against terrorism, becoming a key ally of Washington. US forces' discovery and killing of Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama Bin Laden in a compound in the garrison city of Abbottabad in 2011 re-focused world interest in the Pakistani government and military leaders ability to control domestic insurgents. Civilian politics in Pakistan in the last few decades have been tarnished by corruption, inefficiency and confrontations between various institutions. Alternating periods of civilian and military rule have not helped to establish stability. Most recently, after the resignation of former President Musharraf, Pakistan elected Asif Ali Zardari to the presidency.

Pakistan is a federal republic and its Constitution has undergone many amendments and suspensions. The President is the Head of State and the elected Prime Minister is Head of government. Parliament consists of two Houses i.e. the Senate (Upper House) and the National Assembly (Lower House).

Economy

Pakistan has a semi-industrialised economy. During the mid-2000s, Pakistan experienced a period of tremendous growth, averaging seven per cent yearly GDP growth between 2003-07. Significant foreign investments have been made in several areas including telecommunications, real estate and energy. However, the 2005 estimate of foreign debt was close to US$40 billion, this has decreased in recent years with assistance from the International Monetary Fund and significant debt-relief from the United States. Other long term challenges to the country still continue to be the expansion of investment in education, healthcare, and electricity production, and reducing dependence on foreign donors.

The structure of the Pakistani economy has changed from a mainly agricultural base to a strong service base, although the agricultural sector still plays a strong role in Pakistan’s economy. The country is one of the world’s largest cotton producers, with cotton being one of its primary export earners. Other significant exports include rice, leather goods, sports goods, chemicals, manufactures, carpets and rugs. Pakistan’s major trade partners for exports are the United States, Hong Kong S.A.R., Germany, United Kingdom, Japan and United Arab Emirates. Russia is a growing market for Pakistani exporters.

Legal system

Although Islam is the State religion, the legal system is based on English common law with provisions to accommodate Pakistan's status as an Islamic State.

Media and civil society

Reporters without Borders ranks the country 151 out of 178 in its 2010 worldwide index of press freedom. Freedom of the press is guaranteed under the constitution of Pakistan, however, this right can be revoked in cases where the government deems it necessary. This leaves the law open to wide interpretation and journalists are reported to be routinely harassed for expressing opinions regarded as counter to the interests of Pakistan. The military is still the most important political force, as well as the clergy, landowners, industrialists and small merchants. The Civil Society Index was implemented in Pakistan in 2001 by the Aga Khan Foundation, with the international co-ordination of CIVICUS.

Human rights and children's rights

Despite constitutional safeguards, human rights defenders face serious constraints in carrying out their work of promoting and protecting human rights. Human rights defenders have reported arbitrary arrests and detention without charge or trial, torture, enforced disappearance committed by security and intelligence agencies and extrajudicial executions. Under the auspices of counter-terrorism, the Pakistani authorities have been enforcing preventative detention allegedly in order to maintain law and order. Basic human rights guaranteed under Pakistani law are frequently violated.[4]

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was ratified by Pakistan on 12 November 1990. The country signed up to the Optional Protocols on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict and on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography on 26 September 2001. [5]

Footnotes

  1. Population Action International, "Chapter Two: Very Young Age Structures Countries in Profile: Pakistan A Youthful Population, Beginning to Mature", 2007
  2. 2011 UNHCR country operations profile - Pakistan
  3. Website of the Government of Pakistan
  4. Frontline Defenders: Pakistan Country Profile
  5. Universal Periodic Review documentation for Pakistan

Sources:



Quick Facts

  • Population: 184,753,000 (UNDP)
  • Population under 18: 78,786,000 (UNICEF)
  • Number of internet users: 20,350,000 (Internet World Stats)
  • Human Development Index: 125 (UNDP)
  • Happy Planet ranking: 24 (New Economics Foundation, 2009)