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How Pakistan’s human rights campaign is flawed beyond deceit

Juan Abbas explores the dire situation of human rights in Pakistan. Despite international campaigns, women, journalists, and religious minorities continue to suffer.

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The dictionary would define Human Rights as “moral principles or norms for certain standards of human behavior”. These could be those pertaining to the tolerance in fighting for justice through protest, to journalism, or even to basic everyday human breathing, and whether flaws in a person can disqualify his every privilege.

The Constitution grants for fundamental rights which are freedom of information, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and the right to bear arms. The right to bear arms is another story, but the rest, the rest is all relevant!

Read more: Pakistan committed to ‘protection’ of human rights, denies US allegations

It’s no secret that Pakistan has for long been a safe haven for human rights, at least that’s what everyone claims. Every day, you see mountains of support for the establishment and just general Pakistanis and how their courage contributes to such a peaceful nation.

But deep, deep inside, we all know that is beyond false, and in Pakistan, at least human compassion is a strategy, used only, when beneficial to the user, not the general public.

Read more: Human rights issues in Pakistan: Predicament of a common man

There is a wide scope of discriminatory ideologies being followed in our country and calling it out would only be a needle in a haystack if we were to start to actually achieve something.

Lack of compassion

It is not compassionate to be harassed every day, to think twice before going into a dark alley, or do anything which you could be a target of, just because you know there are people around you policing your every step.

Human rights are being suppressed. That is a fact! And it’s not the establishment or Army who are suppressing it, it’s every single powerful person who thinks it is more important to protect mainstream peers than to strive for achievable equality.

Read more: Workplace harassments in Pakistan: initiatives taken by State and the way forward

One such protection is honor killing, which is basically when a person of a family is killed because of his or her “disrespect” to the family. An Amnesty International report outlined this as, “the failure of the authorities to prevent these killings by investigating and punishing the perpetrators.”

And they are right. These old ideologies are preventable, but only if Pakistan’s HR was interested in actual human beings of this nation, not of others.

Read more: Italian-Pakistani girl’s strangulation confirms need for strict regulations against honor killings

Every time, it suits our nation, we go out and police other nations on unfair treatment. Kashmir, for example, is no doubt a condemnable issue. People locked up in the same town for over a year now, being shot in every attempt to escape. A nation with which we want no ties is responsible for such actions.

Whereas, a nation that has funded us, seeing great opportunity here, has itself many Muslim hostages, for whatever valid or invalid reason they are there, and if “every Muslim is a voice for another”, Pakistan should stand up to all those who are suppressed. This is not to blame China at all. It’s to blame Pakistan. After all, the buck stops with them.

Read more: China’s Leaked Documents Reveal ‘No Mercy’ for Uighur Muslims

Are we biased?

In recent months, the U.S. Senate has been the advancer of many bills, in which funding for religious and gender-centric opportunities was raised. Those bills passed, and are no doubt helping Pakistan aid its women’s campaign to promote equality.

But is it true, that we need other countries to help us deal with our gender problems, whereas the only time, we say something about gender is when we can blame equality movements on the west?

Read more: Pakistani culture vs Women empowerment: Should Aurat March be held?

In terms of religion, there is nothing to say. It is pathetic to see that the only other dominant religion, namely Christianity, is being frowned upon as some kind of lower caste.

Let me explain. Christians, wherever in the country live predominantly in slums and discriminatory locations. Here, as obvious as it is, they have no access to clean water, they could be electrocuted by live wires any minute, and after going through all that, are judged every day, as “non-believers”.

Read more: Pakistan’s resilient Christians: Kamran Michael

Restricting journalism

Then, the most complex feature of the campaign would be journalism. Free and fair journalism is a global right. Everyone deserves the right facts at the right time. What they don’t deserve is being prosecuted for reporting on the news.

Arguably, news has been suppressed in Pakistan. This is not me talking. It’s the New York Times, the Washington Post, and any other major newspaper. In the last few months, the only few times Pakistan was up on the New York Times, was because journalists had been through some kind of trouble.

Read more: Pakistan media: is it destroying youth potential?

Now, the journalists, too need to respect every nation’s boundaries and understand that there is a difference between freedom of speech and saying something outrageous about the institutions that protect you, every day, on the battlefield. But it works both ways, and prosecution is never the right tone.

I mean, is this the country we want, is this the country we live in? No shame, no moral compass, just plain and simple human rights. And for what? For all this.

The author tweets at: @JuanAbbas. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space. 

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