Challenges persist

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As the world nations set to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on December 10, it is imperative to reflect on the enduring significance of this groundbreaking global pledge in the face of contemporary challenges. Conceived as a beacon of dignity and equality, the Declaration itself is now facing a sustained assault amidst a backdrop of pandemics, conflicts, inequalities, a flawed global financial system, racism and, above all, climate change.
Pakistan, like many nations, joined the international community in acknowledging this milestone. While the country has taken commendable steps, including ratifying core human rights conventions and enacting laws for the protection of vulnerable populations, challenges persist. Despite strides in constitutional incorporation of fundamental rights, the state falls short in safeguarding human rights defenders’ lives and ensuring fundamental freedoms.
According to a news report published on these pages, the incumbent government’s commitment, as articulated by Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, to promote and safeguard human rights is acknowledged. However, the reality on the ground, as reported in the media, paints a somber picture.
Addressing this issue is not just a governmental responsibility; it is a collective societal duty to protect the rights of women, children, transgender individuals, and minorities. While Pakistan has made strides in enacting specific laws for the safeguarding of these groups, there is an evident gap in implementation, particularly in ensuring the freedom of assembly, association, expression, and the right to an effective remedy.
No doubt, that some key initiatives taken by the government of Pakistan included ratification of core human rights conventions, incorporation of fundamental rights in the constitution of Pakistan, enactment of human rights laws and establishment of institutions for prevention and protection of rights.
Special laws have been enacted for the protection of the rights of vulnerable population including women, children, religious minorities, persons with disabilities, senior citizens and transgender. But the state is lagging behind to protect human rights defenders lives, ensure freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of expression, opinion and protest, freedom to access information and to communicate with international bodies, the right to receive funds and the right to an effective remedy.
Pakistan is still in the list of countries where the rate of journalists getting killed is quite high. But as a recent report by Freedom Network showed, the state has demonstrated little interest in apprehending the culprits or in prosecuting the few that get caught.
As the world reflects on the 75th anniversary of the UDHR, it is a call to action for Pakistan and nations globally. Upholding human rights is not just a legal obligation but a moral imperative. To truly honor the spirit of the UDHR, it is essential to bridge the gap between promise and practice, ensuring that no one is left behind in the pursuit of a more just and equitable world.