Karachi Literature Festival: Declining state of human rights in the country

Published: February 17, 2013

Human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Human Rights Watch Pakistan director Ali Dayan Hasan. PHOTO: EXPRESS Human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir. PHOTO: EXPRESS
KARACHI: 

Intolerance, impunity and institutional complicity were the dominant themes during an hour-long session on human rights on day two of the fourth Karachi Literature Festival.

Chaired by Justice (retd) Nasira Iqbal, the audience was hard pressed to find a bright spot in the country’s struggle for civil liberties once the session was over.

“I’m horror struck,” every single time the Baloch issue is visited, said Human Rights Watch Pakistan director Ali Dayan Hasan.

“By voicing their demands, by speaking for those killed … it doesn’t mean you’re speaking out against Pakistan but for its benefit. But in Pakistan, kal aap ko utha liya jayay ga, kal mujhay utha liya jayay ga,” the beleaguered activist said before passing the microphone to Hamid Khan, ex-president of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan.

Khan took the audience through Balochistan’s travails in some detail. “What is most unfortunate about the situation is that ethnic cleansing is taking place.” The Baloch nationalist parties’ boycott of the 2008 polls lead to parties “like PML-Q with no roost” in the province to win seats, he explained.

“As long as women were not asking for rights, there was peace. When she wants to study, asks for her inheritance, it is a problem. Similarly, the Baloch wanting their rights is a problem,” said Human Rights Commission Pakistan director I A Rehman. “Justice is a commodity you can buy – there is no justice for the poor, women or the Bheel.”

“There are more things which cannot be discussed today than there were 24 years ago …We have made no dent in 24 years,” Rehman stated.

Human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir, who dedicated her talk to Malala Yousufzai, said: “Please understand … all our institutions are rotting. First we said the generals could do no bad, now we say the chief justice can do no wrong … in no other country would those lawyers get away with garlanding Salman Taseer’s killer”.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2013.

Reader Comments (8)

  • Mirza
    Feb 17, 2013 - 10:59AM

    ” in no other country would those lawyers get away with garlanding Salman Taseer’s killer”.
    You said it Asma. No wonder the rightwing leaders are totally against you and cannot tolerate you. Taliban and their terrorist friends only target BB, Taseer, his son, ANP leaders and great fighters like you. Thanks for fighting against the army dictators, extremists and usurpers of the rights of women and weak.

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  • sabi
    Feb 17, 2013 - 11:19AM

    The only institutions that is working honestly is HRCP.On the opposit front is MMM nexsus.Country is bleeding by ‘thousand cuts’.Fascist land laws horrible outcomes.

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  • sabi
    Feb 17, 2013 - 12:19PM

    The only institutions that is working honestly is HRCP.On the opposit front is MMM nexsus.Country is bleeding by ‘thousand cuts’.Fascist land laws horrible outcomes.Recommend

  • Roni
    Feb 17, 2013 - 12:37PM

    Asma is the greatest of them all. Way to go girl!

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  • Billoo Bhaya
    Feb 17, 2013 - 12:47PM

    Utter chaos and the SC and the Security Services have shown their inability to deal with Baluch insurgency. If Manto was alive today and writing his stories, he would have been killed. Pakistanis in general have poor reading habit. They talk a lot without knowing what they are talking about, especially on religion in which they are incompetent, but willing to kill someone for a minor slight. No wonder no one wants writes any more as there are few that read or are literate.

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  • holy me
    Feb 17, 2013 - 6:36PM

    @Billoo Bhaya, Well said. I’m visiting and I’ve noticed that too. Pakistanis are highly superficial, talk alot about nothing, are highly insular, gossip, highly jealous and is an open encyclopaedia of other peoples’ lives and 99% of their actions are determined by their image and what other people think of them. They lack maturity, are highly insecure and there are alot of so called elite and if you find them settled abroad they live on benefits. The television is controlled by advertisers, bollywood – if all of Pakistan went to India they would all be living on the street, there is hardly any awareness of outside world beyond the soaps/dramas and latest lawns on sale and of course most importantly shaadi. And most importantly nobody here is open to criticism so that they can improve and learn. Shame. Jinnah and Manto will be turning in their graves.

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  • Billoo Bhaya
    Feb 17, 2013 - 7:18PM

    @holy me:
    I agree. I was in London last Christmas and the family we were staying with would watch Pakistani and Indian TV channels 24/7. Their favorite program’s was Bulbula, a stupid skit that any person with a monkey’s brain would not find it appealing. Yet, ladies and men would go into fits at each punch line. That’s the level of their maturity and worldly knowledge. In a Pakistani Departure Lounge have you ever seen anyone reading a book or a magazine. They will all be looking at each other for hours.

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  • quantum
    Feb 18, 2013 - 3:12AM

    @Billoo and Holy me – Well said.

    Big mind talks event, small minds talk people.

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