Human Rights for All: The Nature of the Beast in Pakistan

Rights rights and more rights… it seems there are never enough to go around. Pakistan has a particularly bad track record on human rights. There has been so much written about this already, as a quick glance at the links below shows, that it seems useless writing more about it. Most Pakistanis’ indeed, have given it up as a lost cause and regard the current state of affairs as what is, and what will be in the forseeable future.

Everywhere you turn, its all gloom and doom. “Karo Kari”:http://www.amnestyusa.org/countries/pakistan/reports/honour/index.html is on the rise, minorities are being increasingly “persecuted”:http://www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/international/pakistan-03.html, “religious intolerance”:http://www.religioustolerance.org/rt_pakis.htm is once again “rearing its ugly head”:http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/16F959A8-B0A7-4719-8D27-7D112475034A.htm, and a large percentage of Pakistani peasants/farmers still live in the “medieval age”:http://www.dawn.com/2003/09/27/local32.htm. The local newspapers and magazines are full of violations left right and center. On the other hand, a vast number of “NGO’s”:http://www.net-ngo.com/ have sprung up all over the country committed to increasing human rights awareness and bettering the situation. While many of these NGO’s have been vilified in the press and in popular opinion, they are doing a much needed job which the state seems to have abandoned completely.


So, where do we stand now? Alongside the feudal system, which in itself is extremely repressive, Pakistan has developed a very class conscious society which gives the rich and powerful a lot more ‘rights’ than the ‘common citizen’. Like the Soviet Union, some citizens are more equal than others. Hereupon lies the problem, for those who have the power to bring about change consider issues like human rights a luxury which a third world country like Pakistan cannot afford. (Along with clean drinking water, hospitals… the list goes on).

China for example, is killing its environment in the fastest industrialization in history. They too, like Pakistan, cannot afford to waste time and money on the environment just right now. I wonder, by the time every Chinese owns a car and a living space full of upteem gizmos all consuming energy, what will they think then? What about Pakistan? While we are in no danger of destroying the countryside with our limited industrial base, are we slowly destroying the human spirit of millions who live in slums and shantytowns all over the country? There is no Pakistani dream which can act as a relief valve to the pent up fustrations and longings of millions. We are turning into a deeply polarized society, and I do not see much improvement in the next few decades.

It is true, that with the limited resources at its disposal, the State cannot provide basic needs like quality education, medicine and drinkable water. These come with time with the economic growth of a country. What the State can do right now is to provide a more humane front to its organs which deal with the public. Right now it is not even doing that bare minimum, and in the process demeaning those which it is meant to serve. Go to just about any government organization in Pakistan and try to conduct whatever business that organization is supposed to be doing. It is an excercise which starts by stripping one of any dignity and then proceeds on to lower levels. Dignity is an essential human right, and one which the state can provide for free by cleaning up its act. [ _of course if one drives up in a big car one gets a slightly different treatment_ ]

How does a country like Pakistan improve it’s human rights situation? Third world countries suffer from leaders with over large egos who take themselves too seriously These are the most dangerous ones, as they can write off all the suffering they see in their land as secondary to more ‘pressing needs’ of national security and other matters of such great importance that the common man would find hard to comprehend. Such good work these leaders do! It is common amongst Indian/Pakistani politicians to pat themselves on their backs a lot harder than politicians in the developed world do. It is a strange cultural phenomenon. Maybe they have to make themselves feel important enough to be able to justify to themselves all the hypocritical actions (and nonactions) which they take concerning their populace.

So, what now? The issue of human rights is not something which requires a genius to come up with a solution and implement it. The issues are obvious, and so are the remedies. We must strive, each is his own way, to bring about what change we can. It is ironic that we have to fight the hardest enemy of all, Man, for his own betterment. Still, at the end of the day, Arundhati Roy said it best:

bq. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.

_this essay was written for “Independant Days: Human Rights for All”:http://independentsday.org/project_1210/ : a community-focused commemoration of “International Human Rights Day”:http://www.un.org/events/humanrights/ ._

h4. Links to Actual Information on Human Rights in Pakistan

* “Pakistan Institute of Human Rights”:http://www.pihr.org.pk/

* “Human Rights Commision of Pakistan”:http://www.hrcp.cjb.net/

* “Human Rights Watch: Pakistan”:http://www.hrw.org/asia/pakistan.php

* US State Department Human Rights Reports: “2002”:http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2002/18314.htm – “2000”:http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2000/sa/index.cfm?docid=710 – “1999”:http://www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/1999_hrp_report/pakistan.html – “1998”:http://www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/1998_hrp_report/pakistan.html – “1997”:http://www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/1997_hrp_report/pakistan.html

US State Department Reports on Religious Freedom in Pakistan: “2002”:http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2002/14026.htm – “2001”:http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2001/5705.htm – “2000”:http://www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/irf/irf_rpt/irf_pakistan.html – “1999”:http://www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/irf/irf_rpt/1999/irf_pakistan99.html

* “Amnesty International Pakistan”:http://www.amnestyusa.org/countries/pakistan/index.do

* “Business and Human Rights Resource Center”:http://www.business-humanrights.org/Categories/RegionsCountries/AsiaPacific/Pakistan

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5 Comments

  1. Yes most of these NGOs r made by people to get name and b famous and the biggest crook of em all is IZHAR BURNEY…the SOb .He gets dictations fm influetial people and work as they want .just a bit of genuine work is done ONLY to cover up.People like him shud b prosecuted.

  2. Although the situation for Human Rights in Pakistan looks to be very bleak but we forget that to ensure that Human Rights are not violated is not only the duty of the government or the NGOs, it is a responsibility that we all share and until and unless we cooperate with them the situation will not improve.

    concerning the NGOs, yes there are many which are only working for their own benefit rather then the benefit of the people of Pakistan but we must also realise and remain hopeful that these are the very organizations which contain very potential and hardworking personnel who is making if not a major but a considerable contribution to this cause.

    we cannot change the situation of politics in the Third World by criticising it over and over again. we must participate in the process either as individuals or in groups to help purify the political process and to create great leaders. Corrupt leaders exist everywhere even in the so-called First World, its only we who can help ourselves

  3. Dear Madam

    I want to draw your kind attention to an important issue , ie correction of web link of our ( Pakistan Institute of Human Rights) website at you web page.

    Please correct the web link/ address of Pakistan Institute of Human Rights , the link which is available at the moment on your web in incorrect in fact the correct address is http://www.pihr.org.pk our old URL address “www.pihr.org” has been hacked / now somebody has posted a fake page over there that page does not even use or contain the name of Pakistan Institute of Human Rights . You are therefore requested to please correct the link of our web site which is http://www.pihr.org.pk

    This correction is important for you also as many people visit your site daily.

    Please do not hesitate in contacting me if you need any information

    Many Regards

    Anita Ruaf

    Office Secretary

    Pakistan Institute of Human Rights

    H.No 1-A St 38, F-8/1

    Islamabad

    Pakistan

    Ph 0092-51-2855565

  4. its true that we are a member of international community. i wanna ask that how i will approach you for a particular case?

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