Human Rights Commission expresses concern over growing sense of powerlessness in Pakistan

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Lahore [Pakistan], November 13: Amid economic deprivation and unemployment, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed concern over the growing sense of powerlessness among ordinary people in Pakistan.

It reported that the political engineering due to the upcoming general elections in Pakistan has made democracy, electoral politics and the rule of law serious victims.

Noting the pressures built on the media, it said that it is determined to hold the state accountable for such restrictions as the elections approach.

The Pakistan-based news daily reported that the HRCP also condemned the continuing curbs on freedom of expression, saying not only have journalists been summarily removed for expressing dissenting opinions, but many have also been prevented from reporting on recent events in areas such as Parachinar and Chaman.

The Commission also demanded holding the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances to account for its poor track record. In cases where victims’ families have filed petitions, HRCP urged the courts to identify the perpetrators and hold them accountable, and to ensure that victims and their families are given reparations.

It also underscored the grappling law and order situation in the Kachha areas of Sindh and Punjab and called for immediate attention. The provincial governments must heed residents’ credible suspicion that influential persons are involved in drawing financial or political benefits from the deteriorating security situation, said the HRCP.

The rights commission demanded that the newly merged districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa be mainstreamed without further delay and local bodies empowered. It also expressed concern over the revival of the FATA Tribunal. The government must also monitor the situation in Parachinar and protect people’s right to security by preventing further sectarian violence.

The rising number of suicides, especially in Sindh, South Punjab and Gilgit, are cause for concern, given that many cases are connected to rising poverty.

The Pakistan-based news daily reported that Child domestic workers, who remain highly vulnerable to abuse and sexual violence, need special protection. The recent ban in Kohistan on women from working at NGOs must also be strongly condemned. HRCP opposes the ongoing drive to deport Afghan nationals, including those with legitimate documents. The government must also protect people’s right to fair wages and safe working conditions, particularly for fisherfolk, miners and sanitation workers.

The News International reported HRCP is alarmed by the continued allotment of collectively owned land in Gilgit-Baltistan to private individuals and the impact of environmental degradation on people’s right to health and livelihood in this area.

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