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Concern rising over missing Pakistanis

Dec. 30, 2010 at 9:00 AM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Pakistani police and security forces reportedly have taken thousands of political separatists captive and the United States says some may have been killed.

A U.S. State Department report to Congress urged Pakistan to address its human rights abuses and the issue could become another source of friction between the United States and Pakistan, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Human rights organizations say Pakistan has rounded up thousands of people in the past decade, most in Baluchistan, and is holding them incommunicado without charges.

"Hundreds of cases are pending in the courts and remain unresolved," said the Congress-mandated report the State Department sent to Congress Nov. 23. "The Pakistani government has made limited progress in advancing human rights and continues to face human rights challenges … there continue to be gross violations of human rights by Pakistani security forces."

It is difficult to come up with an accurate figure for the number missing, in part because family members fear retribution if they report missing relatives.

"It is very difficult to put numbers on disappearances as they are accompanied by intimidation of the next of kin of the disappeared," said Ali Dayan Hasan, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch in Lahore, Pakistan. "People are unable to speak publicly. But we can safely say that disappearances are the order of the day across Pakistan, particularly in relation with counterterrorism."

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