Human Rights in Pakistan –
Visits 242
April 01, 2011
Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings irrespective of nationality, sex, ethnicity, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted and proclaimed On December 10, 1948, is the most authentic and credible document that has universal value and represents "a world milestone in the long struggle for human rights". The first three articles of this document are:

Article 1.

• All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Article 2.

• Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Article 3.

• Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

These rights reflect interdependency and indivisibility; whether they are civil and political rights, such as the right to life, equality before the law and freedom of expression; economic, social and cultural rights, such as the rights to work, social security and education, or collective rights, such as the rights to development and self-determination, are indivisible, interrelated and interdependent. The improvement of one right facilitates advancement of the others. Likewise, the deprivation of one right adversely affects the others.

Equality and non-discrimination is also a cross-cutting theme of the charter. This principle is present in all the major human rights treaties and provides the central theme of some of international human rights conventions such as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

The principle applies to everyone in relation to all human rights and freedoms and it prohibits discrimination on the basis of a list of non-exhaustive categories such as sex, race, colour and so on.

This charter also emphasizes the rights and the obligations of both individuals and the state. Human rights entail both rights and obligations. States assume obligations and duties under international law to respect, to protect and to fulfil human rights. The obligation to respect means that States must refrain from interfering with or curtailing the enjoyment of human rights. The obligation to protect requires States to protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses. The obligation to fulfil means that States must take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights. At the individual level, while we are entitled our human rights, we should also respect the human rights of others.

In simple words, human rights means are the rights that each and every one of us has just because we’re human. They include our right to life, education, health, and shelter. Our right to be free from discrimination – we should all be treated equally, regardless of our gender, our race or whether we have a disability. We all have a right to say what we think as long as we respect what other people say. Human rights are about a society where everyone is safe to express themselves and live the life they want to.

LEAD Pakistan with the financial assistance of British High Commission organized a human rights event on March 25th 2011, entitled “A right delayed is a right denied”.

“A right delayed is a right denied” is the famous quote of the civil rights activist Martin Luther King. He in his famous speech in 1960 he said :-

“I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that even amid today's mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, men other-centered can build up. I still believe that we shall overcome.”

This event was not just to highlight the human, civil, socio-political economic and environmental rights but this event marked the launching of the human rights case studies compendium – a publication that chronicles stories and case studies from all over Pakistan.

From human trafficking to honor killing, from violence against women to discrimination against the displaced and the minorities. From customs like sawara to inheritance rights, from the silent horrors of abortion to destruction of flora and fauna of the Indus delta. This collection of case studies highlights the gap between reality and utopia that we live in. This is a testimony of the gross violations, lack of legislation and governance and lack of awareness about the basic rights of a person in our society.

The chief guest at the event was renowned human rights champion, politician, former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan and barrister Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan. He addressed the audience and in his speech he emphasized on another basic human right i.e. the right to think, the right to question and the right to explore ideas. In his speech, he lamented the progress of the muslim nation and highlighted the gap in development of media, science and social justice between the muslim and non-muslim nations. His message was of peace and developing tolerance for accepting and respecting different opinions and ideas.

This launching of the case study compendium was followed by a policy dialogue on human rights issues. The panel comprised of eminent activists such as Mr. Zia Ahmad Awan, President – Lawyers for Human Rights & Legal Aid, Mr. Anees Jillani, Senior Partner, Jillani and Associates, Dr. Sania Nishtar – President Heart File and Ms. Faryal Gohar –actress, activist, former UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador and Cultural Conservation and Heritage Manager.

The participants were of the view that there is a need to change the mindset of people. The gap between the ordinary man and the policy makers is increasing therefore all the stakeholders need to be involved to bring a change at the individual, grass root and policy level. The panels agreed that human rights education rights education is a vital part of such efforts and it should be designed to equip new generations with the knowledge of their inalienable rights. These rights include rights to health, to education, to food, to housing, to marry -in short, the rights needed to be free from want and fear. Human rights education is much more than a lesson in schools or a theme for a day; it is a process to equip people with the tools they need to live lives of security and dignity.

The esteemed experts identified that poverty, health and education are the main problems of the society and they can be solved through good governance and implementation of the rule of the law.

The showed concern on violence against women. They agreed that all forms of violence against women must stop – from the use of rape as a weapon of war to the use of violence by a husband to terrorize his wife within her own home.

It is not only Pakistan, but the rest of the world is also uniting to respond to discrimination and violence against women.

According statistics:-

• One in every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime.

• In the United States, one-third of women murdered each year are killed by intimate partners.

• In South Africa, a woman is killed every 6 hours by an intimate partner.

• In India, 22 women were killed each day in dowry-related murders in 2007.

• In Guatemala, two women are murdered, on average, each day.

• In Sao Paulo, Brazil, a woman is assaulted every 15 seconds.

• Approximately 250,000 to 500,000 women and girls were raped in the 1994 Rwandan genocide

The event ended with a question mark that who will defend and champion the cause of human rights. It also ended with a promise, hope and a message that we need to renew our commitment to human rights and to create a society where everyone can enjoy the dignity of life. We can all make a difference, if we just try. It starts with a simple pledge to uphold the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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