Govt’s focus urged to improve economy

Lahore: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has demanded that the elected government and parliament take ownership of the litany of challenges facing the country, rather than ceding space to bureaucracy.

A statement issued at the conclusion of the HRCP Council and annual general meetings said the economic rights of the people and the economic crisis afflicting the country are not being tackled and unemployment and poverty are rising unchallenged. It is worrying that there does not seem to be a plan to overcome the growing shortage of electricity, clean drinking water and gas. Because of a lack of budgetary allocation, the promise of universal education under Article 25-A of the Constitution is not being fulfilled. The insufficient budget for healthcare is contributing to the deaths of infants and children across the country.

Democracy will take root only if power is devolved to the grassroots. It is imperative to hold local bodies’ elections and transfer power to them. HRCP also wishes the earliest possible finalisation of a new NFC award and a streamlining of the functions of the council of common interest. All efforts, overt or convert, to roll back the 18th Amendment must cease forthwith.

The provisions of the Bill on cyber crime certainly constitute an attack on the freedom of expression. The sweeping statements and the generalized language of the draft law have caused worries over the high likelihood of the abuse of bill. It opens doors to persecution by dogmatic forces in society.

Intimidation of human rights defenders and journalists remains widespread and the intelligence agencies’ visits to civil society organisations’ offices have been creating an atmosphere of fear.

HRCP is extremely concerned at the media campaign against Dr. Taimur Rahman of LUMS, following the cancellation of a discussion on Balochistan and protests against it. The media campaign, led by a particular TV channel, amounts to hate speech and must be taken note of as it poses a threat to Dr. Rahman’s security.

The killing of 20 labourers in a terrorist attack in Balochsitan is highly condemnable. Killing innocent and marginalized workers is highly deplorable. Perpetrators of this massacre should be brought to justice.

Attacks on religious minorities and sects, particularly on their places of worship, have greatly increased across the country. In its response to attacks on religious minorities the government has continued to look at symptoms alone and the root cause has been ignored.

There have been many brutal and fatal sexual attacks on minors in the last few months. They have been seen as or responded to, in whatever limited manner they have been responded to, as unconnected individual crimes. The trend of violence against children and a holistic effort to prevent these has been conspicuous by its absence.

The incidence of polio has risen to an unprecedented high and killing of vaccinators and their security escorts have made it more difficult to ensure a healthy future for Pakistan’s children. The Federal and the provincial governments should not be distracted but pay attention to these important issues that are vital for the welfare of the ordinary people.

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