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Five Human Rights Issues Being Ignored By PTI Govt

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The International Human Rights Day is being celebrated today to commemorate the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948.

Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted today that on this day, we must appeal to the world and the UN Security Council to act against the illegal annexation of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and demand that there should be an end to the gross abuse and atrocities being inflicted on Kashmiris in violation of humanitarian and human rights laws.

Though the prime minister’s message resonated with all the citizens of the country, the human rights conditions Pakistan do not fall in line with the PM’s views about human rights in Kashmir. The state of human rights in Pakistan is far from ideal. Rights activists frequently urge the government to take notice of the human rights violations taking place in Pakistan, but the demands have fallen on deaf ears. Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari who actively voices her opinion on rights abuses in foreign countries is unresponsive to demands of reforms to end human rights violations within the country.

Here are some human rights issues in Pakistan which merit the urgent attention of the government.

Enforced disappearances

The Commission on Enforced Disappearances continues to receive new cases of missing persons. This month, the commission received 43 new cases of missing persons, with the total number of pending cases being 2,206.

It is important to note that the same government which denounces human rights in Kashmir, promulgated the KP Action (in Aid of Civil Power) Ordinance 2019 which gave legal cover to several detention centers set up during military operations in erstwhile FATA, the case regarding which is still going on in the Supreme Court.

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Violation of minority rights

In October, an Ahmadi worship place was partially destroyed in Bahawalpur, not by an angry mob, but through the use of state machinery; the operation was led by the area’s assistant commissioner.

Forced conversions of girls from the Hindu minority continue to take place while their protests in this regard have not resulted in much relief for them.

Dismal state of women rights

Recently, it had come to light that orphan girls living in the women shelter homes, Dar-ul-Aman, were being ‘misused’ to fulfill demands of government ministers and officials. The Chief Minister’s Inspection Team consistently pressurised the Dar-ul-Aman official who made the accusation to take back her statement, and her refusal to do so resulted in the budgetary allocations to her department being held back.

Moreover, women rights groups have also protested the use of defamation laws by state organisations like the Federal Investigation Agency, as a tool to not only silence and intimidate victims of sexual harassement, but also those expressing support to victims, commenting publicly on the issue, or reporting it in a professional capacity.

False allegations of blasphemy and misuse of blasphemy law

In September, Ghotki erupted in riots following blasphemy allegations against a school principal. It was later revealed that a Hindu girl, which had been kidnapped earlier, was abducted again, and blasphemy allegations were used to cause chaos in the area so the Hindu community could not protest.

Meanwhile, a professor of the Bahauddian Zakariya University Multan, Junaid Hafeez, continues to languish in prison as the prosecution uses delaying tactics to prolong the case.

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Crackdown on dissent

Following the recently held Students Solidarity March, FIRs under charges of sedition were registered against participants and organisers of the march, even though the march had been peaceful and incumbent ministers had supported the demands of the march. Not only that, young students who took part in the march continue to face harassment from law enforcement in the form of threatening phone calls. In addition, the Federal Investigation Agency has used the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 to detain an academic who criticised state policies.

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Naya Daur