KARACHI: The governing body of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed concern over the alarming polarization of political discourse, saying it is detrimental to the cause of democracy, supremacy of parliament and constitutionalism.
According to a press release issued after the closing session of its semi-annual meeting on Saturday, the council also expressed concern about the resulting economic instability, runaway inflation and the threat of food insecurity that disproportionately affect the working and middle classes. Punjab, the country’s largest province, remains in a political vacuum. The HRCP called for a non-partisan consensus on the critical issues facing the country.
The council highlighted several serious human rights issues facing the population, including the impact of climate change evident in the recent glacial floods in Gilgit-Baltistan, the ongoing heat wave in Punjab, severe shortages of water in Sindh and Balochistan, leading to provincial disputes. , displacement and loss of livelihoods.
Voices worry about the polarization of political discourse
He noted worsening cases of police brutality against peaceful protesters across Pakistan, with arrests of activists and political workers accused of being anti-state becoming a common feature. Press freedom is constantly challenged and journalists are constantly targeted. The state must defend people’s rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly instead of retaliating with unwarranted violence.
The HRCP brings to the attention of the government that there is no respite in cases of enforced disappearances, notably in Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Worse still, the resurgence of enforced disappearances of Baloch and Pakhtun students. He reiterated his demand to enact the law that criminalizes enforced disappearances and the state must ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
Violence against women and transgender people shows no signs of abating, he noted. Religious and sectarian minorities remain vulnerable, with incidents such as instances of mob lynching in Sialkot and Mian Channu, the attack on Shia worshipers in Peshawar and the desecration of Ahmadiyya graves becoming more frequent. The HRCP called on the state to curb the rise of religious extremism and grant the National Commission for Minorities statutory status in light of the 2014 Supreme Court Tassaduq Jillani ruling so that it can fulfill its functions.
The HRCP welcomed the passage of the Sindh Student Unions Bill and the decisions to suspend the establishment of the PMDA and conduct a review of the PECA. However, seats on various parliamentary committees remain vacant, since the passage of the vote of no confidence, while the NCHR and NCSW are underfunded and therefore not fully functional. The HRCP also questioned the statements of the Islamic Ideology Council criticizing the Islamabad High Court pronouncements on underage marriage.
The promise to grant provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan must be kept, he said. The council criticized “low-key talks” with militant groups in Afghanistan without giving parliament confidence. The HRCP also demanded that the state accede to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, and enact refugee rights legislation.
Posted in Dawn, June 19, 2022