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article imageMass Graves Found in Swat: Group Blames Pakistan Army

By Christopher Szabo     Aug 26, 2009 in World
A human rights group in Pakistan has accused the security forces of violating the rules of war. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) says mass graves have been found in Swat, scene of recent heavy fighting between the army and the Taliban.
The HCRP said mass graves had been discovered in Babozai and Kabal sub-districts of Swat in the North West Frontier Province, which borders on Afghanistan. Government forces evacuated large numbers of civilians before they fought and defeated the Taliban in the region. HRCP chairperson Asma Jahangir told the humanitarian news agency IRIN:
We have also documented credible accounts of numerous extra-judicial killings and reprisals carried out by security forces.
The HRCP has called for an independent inquiry into the alleged killings. As early as May, allegations were made of violations of the rules of war by the military. Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) said at the time:
Beheadings and use of human shields by Taliban forces are not a blank cheque for the Pakistan Army.
The Pakistan military, however, has rejected the claims. Director-General of Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), Major General Athar Abbas argued that the army was a professional organisation with a strong chain of command, according to Dawn. Abbas said of the army:
It can never respond to terror with terror and has to conduct in a professional and legal way.
Abbas said the graves were Taliban dead buried by their own comrades. He said they did so because they were in a hurry while retreating before the army offensive. He said security forces were holding around 900 prisoners who were being treated correctly.
Abbas added that the army was ready for investigations in the presence of independent journalists.
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