LAHORE – The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed grave concern over instances of ‘apparent racial profiling’ and ‘stereotyping’ as the authorities try to clamp down on militancy and terrorism in Punjab.
In a statement issued on Monday, the Commission said: “HRCP is aghast at the administration in at least some districts of Punjab issuing formal or informal orders, asking the population to keep an eye on suspicious individuals who look like Pashtuns or are from FATA and to report any suspicious activity by them.’
“Such reports lead to the inescapable inference that the authorities in the nation’s most populous province believe that terrorism and militancy have been perpetrated by ‘outsiders’. There are many problems with such an assertion, not least that it treats citizens with suspicion without evidence, and flies in the face of the guarantee for equality of citizens and non-discrimination.
“Another grave and obvious consequence of such offensive profiling is that it treats parts of population above suspicion because of ethnic identity markers. No longer can we afford to live in the state of denial; why do we find it so hard to accept that people of other ethnicity could have something to do with the violence that has been wracking the country for years?
If the dimensions of terrorism and militancy have taught us anything, it is that domiciles do not curb the spread of their tentacles. Only across-the-board targeting of suspects can yield results.
‘The stereotyping that makes suspects of an entire ethnic group needs to be unequivocally condemned and appropriate corrective measures introduced at the training and execution stages to prevent any recurrence. Safeguards must be announced to protect individuals from harassment or being treated as suspects because of the their appearance or facial features.”