Examining Human Rights Challenges in Pakistan

A young writer from Pakistan explains how enough isn't being done to protect the rights of those living there
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Created by Moeid Irfan

Published on Feb 8, 2024
a picture of a flyer on a post that says "every human has rights"
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Human rights are the fundamental rights every human being is entitled to. These rights have no regard for one’s race, ethnicity, religion, or any other status. The UN urges that these basic rights be integrated into all countries' laws. Therefore, these are also incorporated into Pakistan’s constitution.

On the surface, the Pakistani government seems to adhere to these obligations. However, this is far from the truth in a lot of cases. All across Pakistan, a wide array of human rights violations have occurred while the government seemingly turns a blind eye. While the government's indifference to these issues is troubling, it is particularly egregious when it becomes apparent that the government itself is directly involved in perpetrating some of these human rights violations.

Freedom of Speech is the liberty to voice one's opinion with no punishment from the government. It is a fundamental right that is recognised in Pakistan. However, On 5 July 2022, police arrested journalist Imran Riaz Khan on sedition-related charges related to criticism of the government. On 9th July he was released. Then on 11th May 2023, he was once again arrested at the Sialkot International Airport. Authorities allege he was released the next day; however, his whereabouts are unknown to this day. His Father also filed a habeas petition before Chief Justice Lahore High Court, which is still pending.

Furthermore, State officials also subjected journalists, human rights activists, and anyone voicing criticism to enforced disappearances. These innocent people are picked up by government officials, taken to undisclosed locations for an indefinite time, and often tortured. According to the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, at least 2,210 cases arose in 2022 and likely many more remained unresolved. 

Aside from this, Pakistan boasts of religious tolerance, and being a haven for religious minorities to practice their respective religions. This statement is true to some degree, as religious minorities do perfectly coincide with Pakistani society. The issue arises when such minorities are supposedly committing “blasphemy”. Subsequently, the general public wrongfully takes the law into their hands and commit abhorrent crimes like the following.

Mushtaq Ahmed was lynched to death by a group of people after being accused of burning pages of the Holy Qur’an in February in the district of Khanewal. In October, in Ghotki, a man with physical disabilities was forcibly drowned at the shrine where he lived by a visitor after being accused of blasphemy.

 Whether one agrees on the credibility of the blasphemy laws of Pakistan or not, is beside the point. The crux of the argument is that the public becoming the judge, jury, and executioner is universally unlawful and unacceptable. 

From far away, all of these complete and utter violations of both the Constitution and human rights are hidden; however, only upon digging deeper into this rabbit hole does this sad reality become apparent. Most of these deplorable and blatant perpetrators are still roaming with no repercussions whatsoever. Even though the Pakistani government is taking drastic strides towards mitigating such injustices, we also have a part to play in all this. Therefore, I implore the VoiceBox community to unite with me in this endeavour and do all they can to help raise awareness about these deplorable crimes.


Content Disclaimer: The views & opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VoiceBox, affiliates, and our partners. We are a nonpartisan platform amplifying youth voices on the topics they are passionate about.

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