Human Rights Day: ‘Pakistan was born free but most Pakistanis are in chains’
KARACHI: Referring to the famous phrase ‘man is born free but everywhere he is in chains,’ University of Karachi faculty of law dean Justice (retd) Dr Ghaus Muhammad said that Pakistan was born free but most Pakistanis are in chains.
He said this while speaking at a seminar titled ‘A Call for Re-engineering the Public Justice System’ at the Karachi Press Club on Thursday. The seminar was organised by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research and the Asian Human Rights Commission, to mark International Human Rights Day, 2015.
Human rights activist Abdul Khaliq Junejo believes that, in Sindh, basic human rights were being violated from an individual level to a collective level because of the feudal system. Criticising the Qarardad-e-Maqasid [Objectives Resolution], Junejo said that when it was passed, social activists made a hue and cry that it will bring religious violence in the country but they were termed traitors.
Earlier, when the human rights activists asked for maintaining cordial relations with neighbouring countries, they were again called traitors, Junejo said. He added that now when the politicians call for harmony with neighbouring countries, they are praised.
Junejo expressed his concern that today the state decides what should be one’s religion. He said that the state should be secular and for this purpose Qarardad-e-Maqasid has to be eliminated. “State strengthens the feudalist,” Junejo said, adding that they are agents of the state. He claimed that even the military government of General (retd) Pervez Musharraf strengthened the feudal system.
Contrary to Junejo’s beliefs, Barrister Khalid Javed said that Pakistan was only created for Muslims, which is why it cannot be made into a secular state. He added that Islam gave rights to women, minorities and the utmost respect to other religions.
“To say that basic rights are only there in a secular state is absurd,” Javed said, adding that India, which is supposed to be a secular state, could not even safeguard the rights of Muslims, Sikhs and other minorities. Even today, if any Muslim raises their voice against injustice in India, they would be asked to leave and go to Pakistan, Javed claimed.
Emphasising on the protection of human rights in Islam, Javed accepted that today the unrest and crime rates have increased in society, mainly because human rights were violated in controlling these crimes. Javed said that the arrested person is usually not even told why he was taken into custody. He believes that this is not because there is flaw in any of our laws or Constitution, but because the laws were not implemented properly. According to Javed, the flaws in our society were because it could not decide their direction. “If only we follow the law and our Constitution, society could prosper on a daily basis,” he said.
Dr Muhammad agreed that implementation of the law is the main problem in a Pakistani society and said that it was the duty of the state to execute the laws. Dr Muhammad said that in Pakistan the laws were drafted but unfortunately never implemented and insisted that Human Rights Charter should be included in the school syllabus in Pakistan.
While talking about the missing person’s inquiry commission, Dr Muhammad said that it has limited jurisdiction to receive applications on missing persons.
“I have observed that a negative message is being passed, as people don’t know about their beloved ones’ [whereabouts] for months,” he said, adding that those types of commissions were not providing any benefit.