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Human Rights in Pakistan Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by idreeskhan, Canada Jun 27, 2004
Human Rights   Opinions
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Speaking constitutionally, Pakistan guarantees all the essential human rights to its citizens and persons living in Pakistan. Part II of the constitution is essentially devoted to fundamental rights. These rights include the inviolability of dignity of man, freedoms of movement, assembly and association, freedoms of speech, trade profession and religion. The State of Pakistan protects property rights and prohibits retrospective punishments. Discrimination of any type including the one based on gender is not allowed. The list of fundamental rights can be projected as progressive, contemporary and specific in as much as that formation of political party is noted and recognized, as a part of the freedom of association (distinguishing it from other constitutions).

In addition, the concept of due process coupled with the powerful instrument of judicial review by the superior courts is a part of the basic structure of Pakistan’s constitution. Brief reference to this provision may be appropriate. Article 4 declares that to enjoy the protection of law is the inalienable right of every citizen and of every other person for the time being within Pakistan and Article 199 of the constitution grants to the high courts jurisdiction to correct injustices and is expressed in Language that enlarges the jurisdiction of the court: thus opening venue for public spirited litigation, supreme court is given special jurisdiction to directly entertain petitions for the enforcement of fundamental rights if they also involve of public importance.

Pakistan is signatory to number of conventions on human rights and political rights. It has also ratified the universal declaration of human rights. Only in March 1996 it appended its signature to be united national convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. Pakistan is thus committed to honour and enforce the human rights contained in those declaration and charters.

There are also a few non-government organizations fairly active in the human rights field in Pakistan. Even the government of Pakistan has allocated a portfolio on human rights and added a ministry for it. Superior courts of Pakistan have also devised ways and means of taking up the human rights cases on priority basis.

In professing commitment to human rights Pakistan is second to none. Yet the human rights environment in Pakistan is far from being satisfactory. As a matter of fact the situation has progressively deteriorated over the years. One of the major human rights violations includes extra judicial killing, torture or coercion by the state functionaries particularly in police custody resulting in mysterious deaths.

Bonded labour and child abuse do invite occasional criticism and we read an odd statement once a while on these issues. But the practice has continued unabated and with impunity. Child employment is now accepted a norm even amongst domestic servants. The plea is that these children are lucky that they are at least fed and paid.

Child beggars are paraded at the busy crossings on the streets in most of the towns and the money they earn becomes part of the mafia’s booty which mafia takes hold of these children at the late hours of night and into the darkeners of their secret hide-outs. No one seems to be really concerned about his or her future. Children who should be active and full of hope are used, abused, and abandoned to despondency. To abuse a child is to abuse our own future right of child is the most neglected right in Pakistan. Women at least can speak and fight for their rights but these abused and discounted children have no spokes man.

Political parties of Pakistan who do acclaims their commitment to human rights and when in opposition take cover behind such rights, in reality lack conviction and suffer from double standards. Within her won ranks a worker is denied his political right and constitutional amendment No. XIV has put a constitutional seal.

Now even the public representatives cannot openly differ on vital national issues from the party line or worse from the party boss. Whenever, in power the political parties start to systematically demolish institutions that could advance or protect fundamental rights.

The all pervasive corruption of the police, which is the main instrument for enforcement of law and order, have added to the complexity an polluted the human rights environment corruption in bureaucracy, is denying the possibility of equal treatment under the law to the poor who cannot pay for his adversary.

The devil of corruption blocks the entry to administrative and social justice. The same applies to a part of judiciary. It has added inauspicious and ominous colors.

Women rights, which were acclaimed in the women’s conference by Hillary Clinton as human rights, have remained a letter in Pakistan. There has been no progress worth mentioning on women rights. In the male chauvinistic society of Pakistan very little effort has been undertaken or if any attempt has been made to remedy the wrong, it has not been able to and discrimination against women or to safeguard and protect their rights.

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