This year, as in the years past, there is not a lot to be satisfied about with respect to the state of human rights in the country, as presented in the annual report released by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). The HRCP report has noted that the country’s human rights record remains almost as dismal as it was the year before, with little improvement. The few positive changes included the progress made as far as women’s participation in politics is concerned, along with establishment of laws against child marriage, criminalising of domestic violence and the increase in minimum wage. Other than these aspects, Pakistan’s human rights record is simply appalling.
Unsurprisingly, law and order was seen as the biggest problem with the year beginning with attacks on religious minorities and ending with the massacre at the Army Public School in Peshawar. Attacks targeting religious minorities continued unchecked throughout the year. Eleven Ahmadis were killed in targeted attacks, 11 churches and Hindu temples were desecrated in Sindh, and a total of 144 incidents of sectarian violence were carried out throughout the country, with the HRCP stating that there was a significant rise in this kind of violence compared with the year before, which resulted in 210 deaths. Certain professions also continued to be targeted, with 12 doctors, 13 lawyers and 14 media practitioners killed in targeted attacks. Pakistan was ranked second to last in gender equality with respect to healthcare, education and employment and the worst affected by polio with 306 new polio cases. This basically meant that Pakistan accounted for 86 per cent of the 356 polio cases in the world, while 45 polio vaccinators were also killed in the country.
What should be noted is that despite these very worrying and rather consistent trends, no effort was made for judicial or legal reforms to alleviate this dismal state of affairs. We cannot help but agree with the HRCP when it states that the legislature seems far more inclined towards promulgating laws that promote state security at the cost of citizen’s rights and liberties instead of acting to end injustice in its various forms. Expect no early change in this state of affairs.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2015.