13 June | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

Pakistan calls ‘freedom, equality and justice for all’ very apt, relevant

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar suggests recognition of inherent dignity and equal rights of all members of human family

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has reiterated Pakistan’s unflinching resolve to further advance respect for and protection of the rights and freedoms of all citizens as enshrined in the national constitution as well as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“Pakistan has consistently demonstrated its commitment to human rights, evident through various initiatives and policies aimed at protecting the dignity and rights of its citizens,” he said in a message on the occasion of International Human Rights Day. The caretaker prime minister said that this year’s theme – freedom, equality and justice for all – was very apt and relevant.

Pakistan joined the international community in commemorating the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. This historic declaration enshrined the inalienable rights to which all individuals were entitled – regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Caretaker Prime Minister Kakar sees several challenges in achieving desired milestones despite visible progress in human rights

Caretaker Prime Minister Kakar said that some key initiatives taken by the government of Pakistan included ratification of core human rights conventions, incorporation of fundamental rights in the national constitution, enactment of human rights laws and establishment of institutions for prevention and protection of rights.

He also said that special laws have been enacted for the protection of the rights of vulnerable population. To ensure implementation of these laws, he pointed out that the government had established the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), the National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW), and the National Commission on the Rights of Child (NCRC).

In Islamabad, the Family Protection and Rehabilitation Centre provided temporary shelter and psycho-social counseling to victims of violence, he said. Similarly, he said that the establishment of Zainab Alert Response & Recovery Authority (ZARRA) and Transgender Protection Center were also important human rights related initiatives of the government. Despite visible progress in the field of human rights, he said that several challenges remain in achieving the desired milestones.

In this regard, collaborative efforts, both at the national and international level, were vital to address the complexities involved in dealing with issues related to human rights, he said. The caretaker prime minister said Pakistan also remained deeply concerned by the status of human rights in other parts of the world. He emphasized upon working together to build a world where the inherent dignity and equal rights of all members of the human family were recognized and upheld.

Jalil Abbas Jilani calls for sustained global responses to promote a culture of peace

In a separate message, Caretaker Minister for Foreign Affairs Jalil Abbas Jilani reiterated the commitment to protect and promote human rights, saying it is a constitutional duty and a guiding light in Pakistan. “Our democratic traditions, civil society, media, and legal institutions underpin our unwavering commitment to the rights and freedoms of all citizens,” he said. He said that the Universal Declaration on Human Rights inspired humanity’s continued effort to promote universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“We join the international community in celebrating the progress made in realizing shared ideals – freedom, equity and justice,” he said, adding that it is also an important occasion to reflect on the risks arising from impunity in violation of these foundational norms. He said festering and unresolved conflicts remain the most significant impediment to realizing the lofty ideals of freedom, justice, and equity.

Recently, he said that the disruptive power of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic have further compounded structural inequalities within and between countries. He said discrimination, intolerance, and new forms of racism, such as Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred were on the rise and exacerbated by the misuse of new technologies to spread disinformation. “Pakistan calls for sustained and coherent global responses to promote a culture of peace.”

Antonio Guterres says Universal Declaration heals divisions; promote lives of peace and dignity for all

On International Human Rights Day, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is as important today as it was when it was adopted 75 years ago. “The universal declaration is a roadmap, helping to end wars, heal divisions and promote lives of peace and dignity for all,” he said. “But the world is losing its way. Conflicts are raging. Poverty and hunger are increasing. Inequalities are deepening. The climate crisis is a human rights crisis that is hitting the most vulnerable hardest.”

He said that the authoritarianism was on the rise. He said that the civic space was shrinking and the media was under attack from all sides. He said that the gender equality remains a distant dream and women’s reproductive rights were being rolled back. “Today, it is more important than ever to promote and respect all human rights – social, cultural, economic, civil and political – which protect us all,” he said.

“The universal declaration shows the way to common values and approaches that can help resolve tensions and create the security and stability our world craves,” Antonio Guterres said. “As we work to update global frameworks and make them more effective in the 21st century, human rights must have a unique and central role,” he said. “I call on member states to use this 75th anniversary, and the Summit of the Future next year, to strengthen their commitment to the timeless values of the universal declaration.”

Human Rights Commission calls for protection of labor, civil rights

Members of civil society gathered at a conference organized by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in Karachi to mark the International Human Rights Day and call on the state to protect and uphold the right to ‘freedom, justice and equality for all.’ HRCP council member Sadia Baloch opened the conference by pointing out that every day should be thought of as ‘human rights day.’

Lawyer Akhtar Hussain underscored importance of the right to health, education and shelter, while poet Waheed Noor recited verses on the theme of political resistance and human rights. Women’s rights activist Anis Haroon condemned enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, which she said had weakened the civil rights movement. Journalist Sohail Sangi emphasized the need to protect fundamental freedoms and restore student unions.

Climate justice activist Yasir Hussain pointed to pollution, adding that environmental rights were integral to human rights. Labor rights activist Nasir Mansoor said that labor rights had been neglected and called on the state to protect the right to a living wage and food security. Journalist Tauseef Ahmed Khan pointed out that threats to freedom of expression in the present climate had resulted in self-censorship. HRCP council member Mahnaz Rahman said that the situation of vulnerable women laborers must be improved.

Surath Lohar from Sindh’s Voice for Missing Persons underscored the impunity with which enforced disappearances continued to take place. Lala Wahab from the Baloch Yakjehti Committee said that the planned long march to Islamabad from Balochistan was precisely against heinous crimes. Defence of Human Rights activist Aishah Masood pointed out that Articles 9 and 10 of the national constitution upheld the rights of missing persons. Activist Sarang Joyo emphasized that civil society must be united against enforced disappearances to effect change.

Psychologist Dr Syed Ali Wasif cited numerous examples where the state’s use of such tactics against its own citizens had led to the collapse of social structures. Concluding the conference, HRCP chair Asad Iqbal Butt advocated democratic reforms to allow effective representation in legislatures, not just those of elite interests. HRCP’s vice-chair for Sindh Qazi Khizar Habib agreed, adding that the state must prioritize economic and social justice.