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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Pakistan


Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Report
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Introduction

The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. Mission in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Pakistan's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov.

Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

The United States supports the democratically elected, civilian government as it seeks to overcome political and economic crises and roll back an increasingly violent insurgency. Specifically, the United States aims to foster a stable constitutional and democratic government; strengthen good governance through transparent and accountable civilian institutions; build capacity and encourage professionalism of the media and foster a vibrant civil society. The U.S. Government pursues these goals through assistance programs and interaction with Pakistani officials at the national, provincial and local levels, civil society, and the public. Improving effective, transparent, accountable, and representative governance in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPk) is a high priority, as is targeting USAID assistance to the poorest, most vulnerable geographical areas where the nexus of poverty and despair breeds extremism that undermines democratic institutions.

Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human
Rights and Democratic Governance

The United States conducts diplomatic and assistance efforts in Pakistan to support democratic processes and practices and to promote greater respect for human rights. In October 2009, President Obama signed into law the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, authorizing $7.5 billion in civilian assistance programs over the next five years (2010-2014). One of the main goals of this assistance is strengthening democracy and the rule of law in Pakistan. Specifically, this assistance will support the consolidation of democratic institutions, support the expansion of rule of law, build the capacity of government institutions, and promote respect for internationally recognized human rights.

In order to strengthen the independence of the legislature, in 2009, the U.S. Government provided funds to build a new parliamentary training and research facility that would train new members and staff of the senate and national and provincial assemblies to draft, review, monitor, and pass legislation. One U.S. program aims to improve civilian control over the armed forces by enabling members of the parliamentary defense committees to travel to the United States to study U.S. congressional oversight of the military.

Embassy officers at all levels meet with local officials charged with electoral processes and government reforms. The U.S. Government works with Pakistan to increase voter registration and improve election management by building capacity of the country's Election Commission, to assess and more effectively adjudicate the complaints process, and to upgrade and computerize the electoral rolls. The United States also funds programs that enable civil society groups to conduct civic and voter education and advocacy throughout the country. The U.S. Government empowers women in the democratic process by through the development of national and provincial parliamentary women's caucuses and provides female parliamentarians exchange opportunities for professional development.

The United States continues efforts to develop professional law enforcement and security forces to protect citizens against militant attacks and to help curtail human rights violations and civilian casualties. Embassy officers regularly meet with civil society activists who monitor human rights in the country. U.S.-funded police training programs emphasize human rights, appropriate application of use of force, and police ethics. Other U.S.-funded programs train members and staff of the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly to provide adequate oversight and review of the national budget. The Unites States also works with local governments to build their capacity to deliver essential services efficiently and transparently.

Promoting and strengthening a free, open, and responsible media is a central feature of the U.S.–Pakistan Strategic Dialogue's “Communications and Public Diplomacy” working group, begun in March, 2010. Through advocacy and training programs, the United States promotes independent media and professional journalism. The United States funds training for radio and print journalists and supports radio development in key regions such as KPk and the adjoining FATA. Since 2009, the United States has supported the participation of 19 journalists in International Visitor Leadership Programs and funded eight journalists for Citizen Exchange programs focused on health reporting and visual storytelling.

The United States regularly lobbies the government to combat child labor, sexual exploitation, and trafficking in persons, with an emphasis on prevention, prosecution of offenders, and protection of victims. It also supports a civil society organization that assists survivors of gender-based violence.

U.S. assistance helps worker organizations promote freedom of association and collective bargaining rights in Balochistan and KPk.

The United States works to promote religious freedom and combat religious discrimination and victimization of religious communities, particularly religious minorities and vulnerable Muslims through a continuing dialogue between government and religious representatives. During this dialogue, the United States raises issues of sectarian violence, mistreatment of minorities, and discriminatory legislation, including blasphemy and anti-Ahmadiyya laws.



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