States Stampeding HR of Own Societies under the Garb of Counterterrorism

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Air Commodore (R) Khalid Iqbal TI(M)*

*The writer is a retired Air Commodore of Pakistan Air Force and its former Assistant Chief of Air Staff. He is the founding Chairperson of the online think tank, Pakistan Focus.


(The presence of post 9/11 terrorism and ensuing counterterrorism efforts represent classical fourth generation warfare with a predominant hybrid façade, resulting in a ubiquitous and all-pervasive sense of insecurity. With suicide bombers and drone attacks as the respective pervasive strategy, this facet of 21st century warfare became overwhelmingly dehumanised. Important instruments of international law like UN Charter, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, “International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights” (ICCPR) and a whole range of Geneva Conventions and other instruments of international law of war are disregarded with impunity, by both sides. While non-state actors representing terrorism have no legal and moral obligation towards these legally binding laws, the states conducting counter terrorism activities also frequently set aside these commitments. The use of disproportionate force and no serious effort to separate combatants from non-combatants has resulted in the trampling of Human Rights of both. Human Rights activists have all along been expressing discomfort about the impingement of human rights by Counter Terrorism efforts. However, one must acknowledge that States conducting the counter terrorism operations are beset with serious challenges. Combatants blending in with the civilian population makes the process of identification of who’s who impossible. In addition, the collection of forensic data for a credible prosecution presents another nightmare. Furthermore, securing venues for trials and guaranteeing security of witnesses is another challenge. At the international level, counter terrorism operations tend to get interlinked with hidden political and strategic agendas by individual states fighting the terrorists. Moreover, the available body of international law on war has by and large focused on third generation warfare while the challenge is fourth generation warfare, occasionally embracing few streaks of fifth generation warfare – hence lacunas and voids are numerous.

The apparent retreat of terrorism and a corresponding respite in urgency and necessity of the continuation of ruthless counter terrorism strategies presents a window of opportunity to undertake the formulation of an appropriate international legal frame-work for conduct within the counter terrorism facet of war, at national and international levels.

This paper reviews the major flaws and suggests ways and means to plug the gaps in the post 9/11 counter terrorism strategy which has resulted in the violation of international law of war and led to serious impingements of Human Rights. – Author)

†A variant of this paper was presented in an International Conference on “Human Rights: Challenges and Prospects” (7-9, November, 2018), organized by Political Science Department of Government College University, Lahore and its portion is included in the Conference Proceedings. Paper has since been revised and updated; research closed on September 30, 2019.


Politicization of terrorism and counter terrorism is a strategic reality and a universal phenomenon 1. Out of the two, politicization of terrorism has a snowballing tendency as it is accompanied by sympathy, victimhood, despondency and an urgency to avenge through ruthless counter terrorism actions. This emotional push leads to an act first and think later mind-set. This creates a Machiavellian space for machinations with regard to planning the course of counter terrorism efforts which, in turn, results in excessive use of force, deviant directions and varied end objectives.

Both, Countering Terrorism and ensuring Human Rights, are the responsibility of a typical Nation State; this often leads to conflict of interest situation. From a functional perspective, undue claim to victimhood, false flag operations, and blaming the neighbour for one’s own counter terrorism failures are indicators as well as manifestations of a not so well-intentioned counter terrorism campaign and its unrelated clandestine strategic objectives. Employment of suicide bombers by terrorists and killer drones by counter terrorism forces have dehumanized the conflict; these tools do not incorporate a mechanism to pre-warn innocent non-combatants, hence both equally impinge on the fundamental right to life.

Victimhood to terrorism, both at state and non-state levels, sells well. It attracts instantaneous sympathy 3; conversely being labelled as a terrorist, rightly or wrongly, is generally sufficient to seriously undermine even a just cause. A state accruing the tag of terrorism loses the moral high ground, even for acting meaningfully against organized crime and separatism, as targeted person(s) and or group(s) invariably claim innocence and victimhood.

What, How, and Why of Terrorism

There is no universally recognised definition of terrorism 4. This difficulty comes to play because “the term terrorism is politically as well as emotionally loaded” 5. A generally accepted domain of terrorism implies “an operational technique where violence or threat of using violence is used to convey a message to a wider target audience” 6. Another common interpretation of terrorism is “the killing of combatants, civilians, government officials, military commanders by violent non-state actors with the objective of instilling fear in wider society” 7.  These versions do not talk of state terrorism. The current perception of terrorism is the opposite of what it stood for during the French revolution era: the word “Terrorisme”, was referred to “acts of violence to instil fear amongst the French population by the French government” 8.

Notwithstanding other conceptual gaps, the lack of an accepted characterisation of terrorism leaves sufficient space to label or not to label any kind of violence as terrorism. Hence, a whole range of issues—terrorism, counter terrorism, political dissonance, effort for self-determination, multi-national organised crimes, etc.— stand mixed up, with confusion galore. 9

Post 9/11 focus on terrorism and counter terrorism has generally been on non-state versus state dynamics 10. Exploiting the hazy divide between political violence and terrorism, some states become Machiavellian in labelling political violence with terrorism. They turn to opportunism to unleash state security apparatuses, with undue harshness, to suppress the aspirations of the people. Violence by nonstate elements is overwhelmingly presupposed as terrorism, and nation states have developed a tendency to justify—albeit dishonestly— their harsh actions against political dissidents as part of a counter terrorism effort, even against those individuals and groups whose mild actions of violence legally fall outside the domain of terrorism. Contemporary international systems tend to support the State, even at the cost of stampeding Human Rights, such as the right of self-determination. Moreover, terrorism and counter terrorism have turned out to be a struggle of competing politicized narratives – a mixture of factual and fictional 11. Claiming victimhood of terrorism for one’s own side, while blaming the opponent as the perpetrator and practitioner of terrorism has become an accepted norm.

Politicization of terrorism is a double-edged sword. This phenomenon has an embedded snowballing tendency; it waters down counterterrorism efforts by changing the focus and direction. Conducting false flag operations and blaming these on other states and encouraging other states’ separatist elements are increasingly becoming acceptable tools of statecraft.

Terrorism like actions have since long been employed by groups championing a wide assortment of causes, both right and left sides of politics, as well as religious extremism. Guerrilla warfare or revolutionary wars have some interesting similarities with contemporary terrorism, at least at a tactical level. The transnational segment of terrorism has increasingly been playing a substantial role in creating a puzzling counterterrorism environment. This has inhibited the evolution of meaningful regional mechanisms to counter terrorism.

Wilderness of counterterrorism effort

Almost the entire world, with its military might supported by unrestricted UN mandate under chapter VII of its Charter on one side and comparatively minuscular rag tags on the other, present no match. Even then, terrorism and counter terrorism theatrics go on.  After every major terrorist attack there is a new concocted story, exalted talk of resolve, more bombs dropped, more innocent lives lost and more noncombatant properties destroyed, yet there is no closing of terrorism in sight. Eighteen years is not a small period— 8 years longer than World Wars I & II combined.

What happened?  Both terrorism and counter terrorism have become politicised; they have evolved into mutually perpetuating and selfgenerating industries. Both appear to fight each other while ensuring that both survive each battle to fight the next one, some other day.

Terrorism and counter terrorism have also become accepted tools of statecraft employed as vehicles to achieve undeclared strategic objectives 12. If one digs-in a little deeper, both terrorism and counter terrorism are found joined at the hip with regard to their resource mobilisation and facilitation. Cooperation between lead champions of counterterrorism and Al-Qaida in Libya, Syria and other places as well as unearthing of a billion-dollar scam of fake explosive detectors in Britain 13 are indicators that counterterrorism efforts, even though unwittingly, are being constrained lest terrorism is incapacitated in toto.

What led to this sorry state of affairs? It could be the lack of political will, absence of visionary stewardship, (in)sincerity of purpose; or a mischievous combination of all of these.

Furthermore, lack of a unanimously accepted definition of terrorism has pushed counter terrorism into wilderness, as there is uncalled for leeway to declare or not to declare anything as terrorism.

Imperfect governance capabilities at government level and lack of combat proficiency of law-enforcement agencies alongside corruption, underdevelopment, socioeconomic exclusiveness, and at times, the erratic role of the state make terrorism related conflict zones eyecatching lodging bases for terrorist entities. It constrains the ability of governments to effectively handle counter terrorism campaigns. Pointing fingers towards neighbour state(s) for political expediency and to coverup the inefficiency of one’s own state law enforcers are also a popular approach. Some states have become dishonest in labelling legitimate political dissent with terrorism. This is a strategy to cast terrorism related aspersions on legitimate political opposition and equate a legitimate right of self-determination with terrorism.

Moreover, terrorism and counter terrorism have turned out to be a struggle of competing narratives—both actual and fabricated. Conducting false flag operations and blaming it on neighbours, is yet another facet of politicization of terrorism. Within minutes of a violent occurrence, it is attributed to a neighbour.

Human Rights and Counter Terrorism: Post 9/11 Setting

The aftermath of 9/11 generated an urgency for potent counter terrorism measures. A number of new laws have been enacted at national levels, and a whole range of resolutions and legal instruments have been adopted at an international level for combating terrorism. Out of these procedures, some were in direct conflict with fundamental human rights and some of these instruments were enforced without due regard for mandatory dealings under various international human rights conventions 14.  The protection of universal standards such as Human Rights in an environment stressed by terrorism and counter terrorism activities creates severe challenges to a typical nation state and international institutions at regional and global levels 15. Mr Kofi Annan, former UNSG, had strongly condemned the “collateral damage” caused by counterterrorism operations on human rights. Findings and comments by Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights have vehemently criticized HR violations, all over the world, “just for the sake of counterterrorism” 16. Eminent writers like Samuel Ignatieff and David Luban portrayed the continuation of counter terrorism efforts as the end of human right 17.  The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s President declared on 30 November 2001, that “If our response to terrorism is to lower our standards of human rights, then the terrorists have won” 18.  Seventeen autonomous specialists of the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) also articulated their anxiety through a joint statement on December 10, 2001:

“…over the adoption or contemplation of antiterrorist and national security legislation and other measures that may infringe upon the enjoyment for all of human rights and fundamental freedoms and deplored human rights violations and measures that have particularly targeted groups such as human rights defenders, migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees, religious and ethnic minorities, political activists and the media.”19

“Guidelines on Human Rights and the Fight against Terrorism”, espoused by the “Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe” at its 804th session on 11 July 2002 20, prescribed a wide range of vital and supportive rules to correct the situation.  The UNHCHR Report entitled “Human rights: a uniting framework” stated that:

“…ensuring that innocent people do not become the victims of counter-terrorism strategy should be an important component of the anti-terrorism strategy” 21. The “balance between human rights law and security”, through “respect of requirements and principles of international law, such as legal requirements for derogation, and international humanitarian law, as reflected in jurisprudence and general comments of human rights bodies, is absolutely essential to ensure that States combat terrorism in accordance with their international obligation. There should always be a fair balance between legitimate national security concerns and respect for fundamental human rights. Even during an armed conflict, measures derogating from provisions of treaties are permitted only to the extent that the situation constitutes a threat to the life of the nation.” 22  Though perpetrators of terrorist acts which constitute “crimes against humanity” must be punished, at the same time “rights, such as the right to life, the prohibition against torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, the principle of legality in the field of criminal law, the recognition of everyone as a person before the law and the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, may not be derogated from under any circumstances” 23.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) ought to perform a pivotal role in this regard. A strong reaction against this very important UN organ has been led by the US. Since setting up of the ICC, the US tried to immune itself from the ICC jurisdiction by the way of UNSG resolutions and consensual agreements. The USA issued the “Presidential Military Order” on November 13, 2001; and after Congressional approval, it formed special military commissions for trial of its military persons accused of terrorist acts. The Order “excludes access to any international tribunal or committee seeking redress for any human rights violations that may occur during arrest, detention or prosecution”.

The monitoring committee of the ICCPR has “specifically considered whether Article 14 of this Covenant permits trials of civilians by special military courts”.  The committee resolved that, “although it is not expressly prohibited, the trying of civilians by such courts should be very exceptional and take place under conditions which genuinely afford the full guarantees stipulated in Article 14” 24.

Subsequently, the US Congress legislation entitled: “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act” (October 26, 2001, commonly known as the “USA Patriot Act”), which became applicable to the Americans citizens who were presumed enemy combatants. This Act granted domestic and international intelligence agencies blanket powers that effectively ended courts’ intervention to ensure that these powers were not misused 25.

The “British Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001” assigned additional authority to the police, for extracting financial data and other information. Moreover, “communications service providers were to preserve information about their respective communications. An arrest could be made within the United Kingdom without judicial warrant, and detainees could be interned indefinitely 26.

Anti-terrorist wars, particularly preventive ones, result in extended violations of almost all human rights of the entire populations of attacked countries – beginning with the right to life and finishing with destruction of whole range of material and technical infrastructure – on the grounds of preventing an alleged terrorist danger. It is obvious that the extent of killings and devastations resulting from such a war are incomparably greater than those of even the most massive terrorist act. Furthermore, people around the world are not convinced by the justification offered for undertaking such wars.

Silver Lining: Efforts for Protection of HR during Counter Terrorism Operations

The UN and other HR Watch dogs did not sit idle and let the stampede on Fundamental Rights proceed unchallenged. These powerful voices led to institution of safeguards and reversed some of the harsher pieces of legislation soon after their implementation.

The “Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) Working Group on Promoting and Protecting Human Rights and the Rule of Law while Countering Terrorism” was established by UNSG in 2005 27 to “facilitate efforts by member countries toward preferment and safeguard of human rights and rule of law during counter terrorism campaigns” 28. This Group supported application of “Pillar IV of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy”, and helped inclusion of HR and rule of law into the other three pillars of this Strategy 29. It facilitates exchange of information on: human rights, rule of law for capacity building, and good practices in the context of counterterrorism. It identifies gaps and shortfalls in counter-terrorism approaches taken by member countries and develops proposals with regard to countering terrorism. 30

United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy

UN global Counter Terrorism Strategy provides a comprehensive check list for ensuring protection of HR during counter terrorism operations. Section IV of this strategy reiterated that protection and promotion of HR for every body and abiding by the rule of law were corner stones to all apparatuses of this Strategy, and counter-terrorism measures and protection of HR rights are not opposing goals. It emphasises the necessity of promoting and protecting the HR of sufferers of terrorism. 31  Working Group initiated its world-wide project in April 2013, called “Capacity Building and Training of Law Enforcement Officials on Human Rights, the Rule of Law and the Prevention of Terrorism”; it pursues to impart proficiency to law enforcement officials responsible for counter-terrorism on protection of human rights. During 2013-4, it held two workshops, one each in Jordan and Burkina Faso for developing a seven module thematic curriculum. Training has already been conducted in a number of countries including Nigeria, Tunisia, Iraq and Jordan” 32. “Five Basic Human Rights Reference Guides” have been developed which serve as reference documents to guide state level actions to work as benchmarks for national evaluation criterion for capacity building requirements. These are guidelines on: “stopping and searching of persons; security infrastructure; detention; conformity of national counter-terrorism legislation with international human rights law; right to a fair trial and due process”.33 The group also enabled consultation on “additional tools produced by CTITF member entities, such as the OHCHR Fact Sheet on Human Rights, Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism and the UNODC Handbook on Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism”. These examine complex links between human rights and counterterrorism; these are focused on government functionaries, law practitioners, individuals as well as NGOs. 34

Darker side: State Level Resistance and Discriminatory Approach by HR Watch Dogs and Major World Powers

Case Study: Stampede of Human Rights in Indian Occupied Kashmir

The Indian government is in a habit of rejecting reports by international Human Rights watch dogs. Recently it has rejected reports by Amnesty International and Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) on atrocities being committed by the Indian security forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir 35: “Once again we find out that Kashmiris are the ones having to pay the price for the political battle” 36. South Asia Director of HRW, Meenakshi Ganguly, has “urged the Indian leadership to admit that human rights violations are taking place on their side of the Line of Control (LoC), and they must work with Pakistan to find a solution that puts the interests of Kashmiris first” 37. India annexed the already occupied Kashmir territories on August 05, 2019, by revoking articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution 38 and imposed an indefinite curfew alongside communication black out and arrested over 13000 political and HR activists. Night raids and house arrests of leadership is a new norm in Indian Occupied Kashmir. India is not paying any heed to calls by international HR entities for lifting the curfew. The Indian Supreme Court has also sided with the government by not ordering the lifting of curfew 39, instead, it has permitted it to ease the restrictions while keeping in view national security considerations 40. The issue came under discussion during President Trump’s meetings with the prime ministers of Pakistan and India on the side lines of the 74th Ministerial Meeting of the UNGA. After these meetings, the US President Donald Trump said he encouraged India and Pakistan to work out their differences. “I said, ‘Fellas, work it out. Just work it out,’” Trump told a news conference, on September 25, after attending the UN General Assembly. “Those are two nuclear countries. They’ve gotta work it out,” 41 he added. Pakistan has taken up the matter at all relevant forums, the awareness is enhancing, but the pace is too slow. By and large, the attitude of the international community towards the Kashmir conflict is of indifference, even though it is one of the oldest items on the UN Agenda 42.

India is trying to popularise a narrative of equating peaceful struggle of IOK residents for their right of self-determination with terrorism. Indian forces are using pallet guns to counter innocent stone-throwing protestors. Over a dozen Kashmir focused draconian laws grant blanket immunity to Indian law enforcement forces on issues pertaining to arrest, detention, extra judicial murders and even rape. Kashmir is the most militarized conflict zone in the World. Kashmiris call it an open prison. Atrocities of Indian law enforcers against peaceful and innocent noncombatants are well documented by all national, regional and global HR agencies 43. Mass graves have been unearthed at many sites in Indian occupied Kashmir 44 and there is a well-founded perception that Indian forces as using rape as a weapon against innocent Kashmiris 45.

During his address to the 74th Ministerial Session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2019 Prime Minister Imran Khan focused on four issues, Climate Change, money laundering, Islamophobia and Kashmir. He highlighted the responsibilities of international community towards these challenges, especially the deteriorating HR situation in Indian occupied Kashmir.

Express Tribune aptly commented [editorially] on September 29, 2019 under the caption “Imran at UNGA 46”:

“He pulled no punches. He minced no words. He made no bones about condemning the slumbering world conscience while highlighting the Indian barbarism in Kashmir. He warned the world in stark terms of a bloodbath in the state under illegal Indian occupation and made it loud and clear that Pakistan was ready to fight till the end in case a war was imposed on it. Prime Minister Imran Khan hit all the right spots as he delivered his maiden speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Friday [Sept 27]… with repeated bursts of applause from the audience punctuating his address. While the ongoing Kashmir situation formed the gist of the PM’s address, he started off with an issue that threatens the whole world — the climate change. “If nothing is done, we are scared humans are facing a huge catastrophe,”… countries contributing to greenhouse gas emissions must be pushed, with the UN taking initiative. He went on to discuss illicit financial flows or money laundering. While many believe the issue was meant for the consumption of PM’s supporters back home, the fact is that with Pakistan caught in the FATF web, it did merit an audience at the UNGA platform. “Corrupt elites must not be allowed to park their money [abroad]. Why do we have these tax havens? Why are they legal, these secret accounts?” the PM raised stinging questions, asking the UN to lead steps for redress. The PM, also expressed concern at Islamophobia growing at an alarming pace. “Islamophobia is creating divisions, hijab is becoming a weapon,” he observed, adding without qualms that a woman “can take off clothes but she can’t put on more clothes”…. the PM represented the sentiments of over two billion Muslims around the world as he explained the Muslim world’s reaction to sacrilegious content: “The holocaust is treated with sensitivity because it gives them [Jews] pain. That’s all we ask. Don’t use freedom of speech to cause us pain” as “the Prophet [PBUH] lives in our hearts”. And as the PM presented the case of the Kashmiris at the global stage, he did it full justice. As he spoke, the Kashmir issue unfolded in a proper sequence with nothing left out, even though he did not have anything written out on a piece of paper. Deliberating on the longstanding conflicts for 23 minutes, the PM expressed his fears about of a potential nuclear conflict — insisting it was not a threat — in case of the global community not paying attention to the suffering of the nine million Kashmiris held hostage by nearly a million Indian troops for about 55 days. Imran turned out to be the first leader after ZA Bhutto who had the courage to directly hit the Indian leadership, as well as the RSS ideology, at the UNGA. Capping the speech very aptly, the PM said, “This is a test of the UN. You are the one who guaranteed the Kashmiris the right [to self-determination]. This is the time not to appease but to take action … Is the world going to appease a 1.3 billion plus market or stand for justice and humanity.” Prime Minister Imran Khan deserves full marks for forcefully raising the Kashmir issue at the UNGA. There is, however, still the need to work out and adopt a comprehensive action-oriented policy to be maintained at all costs”.

Dawn’s editorial “UNGA speech” on September 29, commented 47:

“Mr Khan delivered a speech focused on four key areas: climate change, financial corruption, the perils of Islamophobia and lastly — and most importantly, since it was the main purpose of his visit — Kashmir. On the first three issues, Mr Khan made some valid points although more informed input from his advisers could have yielded greater impact… But all shortcomings were compensated for by the subject Mr Khan saved for the last: the appalling situation in India-held Kashmir. He spoke with heartfelt conviction: “What I know of the West, they wouldn’t stand for eight million animals to be locked up. These are humans,” Mr Khan said as he spoke of the pitiable conditions that people are living under in occupied Kashmir. “I have pictured myself locked up for 55 days … Would I want to let this humiliation continue? I would pick up a gun” are words that are likely to stay with those who listened. Besides drawing attention to the plight of the Kashmiris, Mr Khan framed his plea to the international community by calling out the UN. “It is a test for the United Nations. You are the one who guaranteed the Kashmiris the right [of self-determination]. This is not the time for appeasement.” Comparing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s association with the Hindu nationalist RSS to Hitler and the Nazis, he asked how the world would respond if it were Jews and not Muslims under curfew — a scenario that might resonate more with an international community that for decades has rightly viewed the Holocaust as amongst the worst atrocities in history. In delivering an unequivocal, thunderous message to the world on Kashmir, Mr Khan did the right thing for millions of Kashmiris living under siege. For that, he must be given credit”.

Through his powerful address at the UNGA, the Prime Minister’s message to World leadership was loud and clear: Pakistan is no longer a pawn, a joker, a bystander on the world stage. It is active, engaged, relevant and responsible. The Prime Minister’s speech has been widely appreciated within and outside the country, including his political foes. However, the underlying fact is that UNGA is nothing more than a debating forum for venting out frustrations, with no practical value towards addressing the international crises. Imran Khan’s speech will not help in mitigating any of the four challenges he articulated. It is ironic that most of such issues are the fallout of prevailing global political order and are pillars for sustenance of global status quo.  Nevertheless, the Prime Minister’s powerful presentation on the Kashmir cause has lifted public morale in Pakistan and Kashmir, and has heightened his stature, within and outside Pakistan. Reuters has reported that: “Authorities in Indian Kashmir tightened restrictions on people’s movements to prevent possible protests… Soon after the speech, hundreds of Kashmiris came out of their homes, shouting slogans in support of Khan and calling for the independence of Kashmir” 48. The Indian government has, as a matter of policy, stone walled itself through a perpetual state of denial.

Selective Application of Human Rights Benchmarks

During these times, we are “witnessing increasing application of Human Rights selectively” 49. And “slogan of Human Rights has become a tool for furthering hidden strategic objectives” 50. The US has left the UNHRC citing “excessive and disproportionate focus on Israel” as the reason 51. In her rejoinder to an August 24 communication by HRW Asia Director, Mr. Brad Adams, addressed to Prime Minster Imran Khan, urging him to improve HR situation in Pakistan, Dr Shireen Mazari, Federal Minister for Human Rights, aptly responded: “I hope that you would also raise your voice against a massive human rights violations, carried out in the Indian-occupied Kashmir, Palestine and in some European States against Muslim citizens*.”

*Research closed on October 14, 2018.

The Minister enquired whether HRW had taken up the matter of HR violations by some European countries against their own Muslim citizens like restricting their freedom to practice their faith at will; and frequent agony caused to them “in the form of abuse of Islam and its Prophet (PBUH)”, in direct contravention to 52 “European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms”. She asked that since HRW claims to monitor the HR situation the World over, she would like to be updated on how HRW is safeguarding “the rights of Muslim” citizens to have their places of worship and “be able to dress and practice their religion freely and without ridicule in European states which have seen an upsurge of xenophobia in recent years” 53. She offered that “Pakistan government would always welcome positive suggestions”, but “an NGO’s institutional credibility will rest on its commitment to ensure human rights across the globe and not just in selective states” 54.


Global counter terrorism efforts have gone grossly adrift in the context of Human Rights. Counter Terrorism campaigns at all levels need to be regulated for staying within the confines of the Human Rights framework. Emotionally it is a hard task, as those perpetrating terrorism have no regard for Human Rights, yet formal institutions of prevalent political order cannot descend down to an anarchic level by having little regard for Human Rights in their overall counter terrorism policy framework. At the same time international Human Rights institutions need strengthening so that they are able to discipline the States involved in terrorism under the garb of dubious counter terrorism campaigns. Due care must be taken so that while handling a monster (terror), some of the states do not become monsters themselves*.

*Research closed on October 14, 2018.


1- Amy Zalman, “What’s So New about the “New Terrorism”?”, ThoughtCo, October 30, 2014.

2- “Countering Violent Extremism Narrative” National Coordinator for Counterterrorism,

3- “Cult of Victimhood: Two Studies”, Shadow Tibet, Jamyang Nordu’s blog, March 31, 2010.

4- U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation(Counter Terrorism Division): Reports and Publications “Terrorism 2002/2005”,  ,

5- Hoffman, “Inside Terrorism” See review in The New York Times (1998), 23.

6- Schmid, Alex P. “The Definition of Terrorism”. The Routledge Handbook of Terrorism Research. (Routledge: 2011) 39.

7- Hoffman, “Inside Terrorism”, 23.

8- Dr Myra Williamson, “Terrorism, War and International Law: The Legality of the Use of Force Against Afghanistan in 2001”, (Ashgate Publishing:2013),1-10.

9- Dr Shabir Choudhry, “Is it struggle for independence terrorism or a proxy war?, Sri Lanka Guardian, December 13, 2008, Sec. G.

10- Jahangir Arasli , “States Vs. Non-State Actors: Asymmetric Conflict And Challenges To Military Transformation”, Eurasia Review, March 13, 2011.

11- Timothy Rooke, “The Contemporary Terrorist Threat and the Attribution Requirement: In Search of a New Standard”, The Student Journal of Law,

12- “Article 51 and the convenient use of the self-defence argument”, International Observatory on Stability & Conflict, January 5, 2016.

13- Yue Wang, “British Millionaire Convicted of Selling Fake Bomb Detectors”, Time, April 26, 2013,

14- “UNSG Address to the UN Security Council”, January 21, 2003.

15- Colin Warbrick, “Terrorism and Human Rights”, in Janusz Symonides (ed.), “Human Rights: New Dimensions and Challenges”, [UNESCO (Ashgate): 1998], 219.

16- “In the Name of Counter-Tenorism: Human Rights Abuses Worldwide”., Human Rights Watch “Briefing Paper for the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights”, March 25, 2003.

17- Michael Ignatieff, “Will the Quest for Security Kill the Human Rights Era?”, International Herald Tribune, February 06, 2002.

18- “Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights”, 1/2002, p. 93.

19- Luban, David, “The War on Terrorism and the End of Human Rights” (2002). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. 892. https://scholarship.  .

20- Martin Eaton, “Council of Europe Measures against Terrorism”, and the “Guidelines” in Annex X. Christiane Bourloyannis-Vrailas, “United Nations Human Rights Standards as Framework Conditions for Anti-Terrorist Measures”.

21- Wolfgang Benedec and Alice Yotopoulous-Marangopolous (Eds), “Anti Terrorism measures and Human Rights”,( Leiden, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2114), 173 ; and Annexure II.

22- “Annex 11: Commission on Human Rights, Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights” (Mary Robinson) and Follow-up to the” World Conference on Human Rights”, February 27, 2002, (E/CN.4/2002/18).

23- Ibid.

24- M. A. Drumbl,, “Judging the 11 September TerroristAttack”, Human Rights Quarterly 24 (2002) pp. 323-360.

25- Ibid.

26- “Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act”, adopted on 14 December 2001,

27- “Promoting and Protecting Human Rights and the Rule of Law While Countering Terrorism”, UN Office on Counter Terrorism.

28- Ibid.

29- Ibid.

30- Ibid.

31- Ibid.

32- Ibid.

33- Ibid.

34- Ibid.

35- Iqbal Khan, “Violation Human Rights in Indian Occupied Kashmir”, Pakistan Observer, September 05, 2018.

36- Imran Kazmi, “HRW South Asia director urges India to accept blatant rights abuses in Kashmir”, Express Tribune, August 27, 2018.

37- Ibid.

38- “Kashmir under lockdown: All the latest updates” AlJazeera, News India, September 30, 2019.

39- Sanjay Kumar, “Will the people of Kashmir accept India’s version of ‘normal’?” Express Tribune, September 20, 2019.

40- Ibid.

41- “Trump urges India, Pakistan to ‘work it out’” Express Tribune, September 26,


42- “Kashmir, the oldest dispute at the UN Agenda”, World Bulletin, Ekim 24, 2014.

43- “International Human Rights Standards for Law Enforcement”, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Centre For Human Rights,

44- Baba Umar, “Will India identify bodies in Kashmir’s mass graves, like it did in Iraq?”, TRT World, April 29, 2018.–17044

45- Asia Watch and Physicians for Human Rights, “Rape in Kashmir A Crime of War Vol I, Issue 9”, Copies of this report may be obtained by contacting Human Rights Watch, Publications Department, 485 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY  10017 USA, (212) 972-8400, FAX (212) 972-0905, or Physicians for Human Rights, 100 Boylston Street, Suite 702, Boston, MA  02116 USA (617) 695-0041, FAX (617) 6950307.

46- “Imran at UNGA”, Editorial, Express Tribune, September 29, 2019.

47- “UNGA speech”, Editorial, Dawn, September 29, 2019.

48- Fayaz Bukhari, “Police impose restrictions in Indian Kashmir after Pakistan PM’s speech” Reuters, World News, September 28, 2019.

49- Imran Kazmi, “HRW South Asia director urges India to accept blatant rights abuses in Kashmir”, Express Tribune, August 27, 2018.

50- Ibid.

51- Why the US left the UN Human Rights Council – and why it matters”, Conversation, June 20, 2018.

52- Ibid.

53- Ibid.

54- Ibid.