Lahore, June 18, 2022 (PPI-OT):On concluding its biannual meeting, the governing council of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expressed its concern at the alarming polarization in political discourse, which is detrimental to the cause of democracy, supremacy of parliament and constitutionalism. It is equally concerned about the ensuing economic instability, the runaway inflation and the threat of food insecurity that are disproportionately impacting the working and middle classes. Punjab, the country’s biggest province, stays in a political limbo. HRCP calls for a non-partisan consensus on crucial issues facing the country.
The Council highlighted multiple grave human rights issues being faced by the populace, including the impact of climate change evident in the recent glacial flooding in Gilgit-Baltistan, the ongoing heatwave in Punjab, the acute water shortages in Sindh and Balochistan, leading to provincial conflicts, displacement and loss of livelihoods.
It noted the worsening instances of police brutality against peaceful protestors across Pakistan with arrests of activists and political workers on anti-state charges becoming a common feature. Freedom of press is in continuous stress and journalists have been persistently targeted. The state must uphold people’s rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly instead of retaliating with unwarranted violence.
HRCP brings to the government’s notice that there is no letup in cases of enforced disappearances, particularly in Balochistan, Sindh and KP. What is worse is the uptick in enforced disappearances of Baloch and Pashtun students. It reiterates its demand to enact the law that criminalises enforced disappearances and the state must ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
Violence against women and transgender persons showed no signs of abating. Religious and sectarian minorities remain vulnerable, with incidents such as the mob lynchings in Sialkot and Mian Channu, the attack against Shia worshippers in Peshawar, and desecration of Ahmadiyya graves, becoming more frequent. HRCP calls on the state to curb the rising tide of religious extremism, and grant the National Commission for Minorities a statutory position in light of the Tassaduq Jillani Supreme Court judgement 2014 so it may fulfil its duties.
HRCP welcomes the passage of the Sindh Student Unions Bill, and the decisions to suspend the PDMA’s establishment and carry out a review of PECA. However, seats on various parliamentary committees remain vacant, since the passage of vote of no confidence, while the NCHR and NCSW are under-funded and hence not fully functional. HRCP also questions the Council of Islamic Ideology’s statements criticising Islamabad High Court’s statements on underage marriage.
The promise to grant Gilgit-Baltistan provincial status must be fulfilled. The Council criticised the ‘discreet talks’ with militant groups in Afghanistan without taking the parliament into confidence. HRCP also demands that the state accede to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, and pass legislation for refugees’ rights.
For more information, contact:
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)
Aiwan-i-Jamhoor, 107-Tipu Block,
New Garden Town, Lahore-54600