Nov 21, 2018

A Long Way to Free and Fair? Human Rights and Challenges to Democracy in Pakistan


A Long Way to Free and Fair? Human Rights and Challenges to Democracy in Pakistan

21 November 2018

17:30-19:30

European Parliament, Brussels

Room A5G305

Click here to register for the event.

On 21 November 2018, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) and MEP Julie Ward (S&D) will hold a round-table titledA Long Way to Free and Fair:Human Rights and Challenges to Democracy in Pakistan, at the European Parliament in Brussels. Bringing together representatives of political parties in Pakistan, human rights advocates and Members of the European Parliament, the round-table will allow for constructive dialogue on the democratic challenges during the last elections and on the overall human rights situation faced by minority communities in the country. 

In recent years, various international and national actors have taken part in observing the general elections in Pakistan in order to ensure the protection and promotion of democratic values. Despite improvements in some aspects, the last general elections held this year saw various obstacles, such as visible impairments to the preparedness of the EU EOM ahead of the elections. Various international non-governmental organisations reported institutionalized racism against minorities; the prevalence of terrorist Islamist organization members in political parties; heightened tensions; instability; growing sectarianism in the political sphere; terrorism and violence.

Since then, post-election debate has pointed out to a number of additional impediments including rejection of thousands of votes in a number of constituencies; postponed election results; malfunctioning electronic ballot machine readers and, in some instances, rigging of votes among others. Moreover, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) released a summary that highlighted the trend of freedom of expression and freedom of the media and noted that, such systematic curtailment of these freedoms was implemented through the use of ominous actions including abduction and assault.

Against this backdrop, the round-table seeks to bring together interested parties to discuss both improvements and challenges at the last elections, as well the implications with regards to Pakistan's GSP+ status and to international conventions to which it is a signatory. Finally, in light of the institutionalized discrimination which minority communities face raise concerns about the real extent of Pakistan’s democratic progress, the round-table hopes to offer a platform to discuss constructive approaches to ensure that Pakistan protects democratic principles and address issues of concern.