Dec 13, 2010

Sindh: Human Rights Day a Reminder to Reassess Discrimination

In light of the long-standing and varied human rights violations in Sindh province and Pakistan in general, the International Human Rights Day should motivate reassessment of the regional situation and draw attention to the continued need for action.

Below is an article published by the Daily Times:

The world community celebrates Human Rights Day on December 10. The envisaged purpose seems to accept the truth that despite the claims of modern, scientific, human-friendly development and globalisation, still some heinous human rights violations are the order of the day in some regions, while realising the universal truth that all humans without discrimination have equal rights to live and develop.


These celebrations are a reminder to governments and activist communities to reassess where we stand and how a large portion of humanity still stands deprived of human liberties, political rights, democracy and even basic human and civic necessities like the right to water, food, social security, individual and physical security.

Pakistan is not an exception. The constitution of Pakistan does provide human rights to citizens but lacks provisions for the protection of minority rights. There are many loopholes in the legal framework, which are subject to misinterpretation or exploitation. The judiciary and the justice system could not deliver and were rendered worthless by despots, both military and civilian.

Human rights violations in Pakistan can be classified as socio-ethnic, feudal-tribal, religious, political, and class, gender, age, sector, profession and industry specific. Non-Muslims are particularly vulnerable. They encounter indifference and are victimised due to the blasphemy laws. After partition some sectors have shown considerable improvements but others have seen a decline, considering the scale of miseries suffered by the people.


General Ziaul Haq organically changed the socio-political landscape of the state and turned the country’s mass into a ticking bomb by planting the seeds of religious fundamentalism. To counter the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, he initiated a military operation in Sindh and created sectarian and ethnic militant groups in Karachi and other parts of the country. The brief periods of the elected governments of Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif were wasted in trying to wash away the dirt of the Zia regime.

Although General Musharraf’s era was considered to be better by some analysts because of the media boom and some really worth-appreciating acts like women’s empowerment, discouraging extremism, promotion of enlightened moderation, etc, but by quantum scale, the human rights violations match those of the partition era. […] The state has been very selective and treating Sindhis and Karachiites with a mild and the tribes of FATA and the Baloch people with an iron hand considering the daily reports in the media.

People are still deprived of the right to education in their mother tongue, access to water, education, health, mobility, transportation and communication and even security due to privatisation of these amenities. Although women’s empowerment has increased, workplace violence and sexual harassment and marginalisation of women have been the order of the day.


Religious minorities have been crying against the blasphemy laws. Working conditions have returned to the slavery era and workers, particularly in the private sector, are compelled to work for more than a daily average of 10 hours without compensation. The media boom was a blessing for the public but reports reveal that workers in the print and electronic media work in pathetic conditions, without appointment orders or job description and without payrolls. Ironically, no one can complain against such media houses.

People lack the sense of security in big cities like Karachi where, according to authentic television reports, more than two hundred major crimes are reported every day. Law and order issues, mobile snatching, motorbike and car lifting, house burglary, killing of seduced girls and children, etc, are the alarming new face of human rights violations. Traffic violations and queue jumping are crimes no more. People feel helpless and do not report these issues anymore.