Human Rights Watch says 2010 was not a good year for human rights in South Asia.
In its annual report Monday, the New York-based group said 2010 was disastrous for rights in Pakistan. It said attacks by the Taliban and other religious extremists targeted nearly every sector of Pakistani society, while the government’s response to those attacks was marred by serious human rights violations.
In Afghanistan, insurgent activity escalated in 2010, with civilian casualties reaching record levels. But the report also noted that peace talks between the government and the Taliban rose to the top of the political agenda.
The group said that while men in Taliban-controlled areas were being threatened and attacked, there was additional pressure on women because of the Taliban’s interpretation of Sharia law. Militant groups continued to target schools, particularly those for girls. According to the Afghan Ministry of Education, between March and October of 2010, 20 schools were destroyed and 126 students killed.
HRW said Nepal’s political and peace processes remained stalled in 2010, resulting in no progress on accountability for human rights violations. Lawlessness persisted across the Himalayan nation, while armed groups and ethnically based organizations were involved in killings and extortion with impunity.
The report said the government defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka in 2009 continued to dominate events in 2010. It said that as pressure mounted for an independent investigation into alleged war crimes committed by both sides, the government responded by threatening journalists and activists.
In Bangladesh, the report said the elected government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made strong commitments to address serious human rights problems in 2010, but those promises were not realized. It said extrajudicial executions and torture continued, while the government mounted attacks on the right to freedom of expression of the media and political opposition.
The HRW report said that while India has a vibrant media, active civil society and respected judiciary, it also has significant human rights problems.
The report said that while a Maoist insurgency in central and eastern India, and armed conflict in Jammu and Kashmir, continued to dominate New Delhi’s agenda, impunity for abuses committed by security forces in the context of those conflicts remained a pressing concern.
The group also said Indian authorities made little progress in reforming police, improving health care and education, ending discrimination against Dalits , tribal groups and religious minorities, and in protecting the rights of women and children.