Pakistan is one of the most challenging countries in the region for human rights defenders, who face high risks including killing, arbitrary arrest and detention, abduction and kidnapping, surveillance, threats and judicial harassment. Many HRDs have had their offices attacked or burnt down and their colleagues killed.
In Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), security agencies, religious groups, militants, and armed gangs all target HRDs. Strong sectarian violence and numerous killings of HRDs in Balochistan has forced most NGOs to close their offices and relocated their staff outside the area. HRDs working defending the rights of women in the tribal areas where extremist groups operate face the highest risks. Besides threats by security agencies and armed groups, WHRDs from KP and FATA often received threats by their own family members, who exert pressure on them to quit human rights work. Many WHRDs received threats that something bad will happen to their children.
Pakistan's Blasphemy Law, which provides for capital punishment, is widely used to target HRDs, especially those defending the rights of Christian minorities. Independent student unions – such as the National Student Federation, which works with the students from lower and middle classes to promote campus democracy and human rights – have been targeted and threatened by student groups linked to political parties. Pakistan also has one of the highest records in terms of outstanding requests for country visits by the UN Special Procedures. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders alone has made four requests to visit the country in 2003, 2007, 2008, and 2010, all of which remained unanswered.