Stories about human rights

Iftikhar Lund as a human rights advisor is like a wolf drafting a charter on the rights of sheep

From the ashes of World War II rose the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This international instrument granted a special place to the concept of human dignity. Article 1 of the UDHR states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Today, more than a hundred constitutions across the world make some reference to human dignity, either as a right or as a value that the state is to aspire towards. Although there is a wide disagreement about the ...

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The UN can only watch in silence, while the Uighur can only suffer in silence

At the edge of the desert in Xinjiang, China, hundreds of ethnic Uighurs are trapped inside an indoctrination program designed by the Chinese state to rip away their Muslim identity. Here, under the eyes of the Chinese surveillance state, they are trapped in a void brought upon by the world’s silence to their plight. For more than a thousand years, the Xinjiang area of China was the home of the Uighurs. A few decades ago, this area was populated almost exclusively by its members. Today, more than 50% of its population is Han Chinese. Now, this didn’t happen because the ...

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Abandoned and neglected, Sindh’s orphans continue to suffer in silence

From the moment I attended the first board meeting of the Sindh Darul Atfal, I have been in a state of shock. I fail to understand how the orphans in Sindh are beyond their constitutional right to have an education provided by the state, as per Article 25A of our Constitution. Why can these children only be restricted to a life of becoming welders, plumbers, electricians or tailors? Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these professions, but you have to acknowledge a problem if these are the only options available due to a lack of a formal education ...

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#TherapistDiaries: The dilemma of being in the closet in Pakistan

I was recently discussing with a patient about how in our culture we do not like to disappoint our parents and would put up with any unreasonable demands and rules just to escape an irrational guilt of hiding something from them or revealing our true selves. This overwhelming guilt or anxiety is experienced even in the most casual rules they set early on in our lives regarding food, friends, religion and so on. For instance, in our society, a 30-plus working adult would rarely challenge these irrational rules and if they do, they carry a great amount of guilt in ...

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Is Venezuela the new Afghanistan?

Three days ago, the first United Nations (UN) rapporteur to visit Venezuela in 21 years told British media outlet The Independent that US sanctions on Venezuela are illegal and bordering on “crimes against humanity” under international law. No one in the international media will say it, but sanctions are always the precursor to war. Never mind Washington’s barbaric sanctions on pre-2003 Iraq, which are estimated to have killed 1.7 million Iraqi civilians, including 500,000 children. Not many people acknowledge this fact, but before the Pearl Harbour attack during World War II, the US had targeted Japan’s rapidly developing economy heavily with economic sanctions, forcing Japan to respond ...

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The ECL fright: ‘Freedom of movement’ or a history of politicians ‘getting sick’ abroad?

They say an artist uses lies to tell the truth. Pakistani politicians, or may be politicians in general, use the truth to tell a lie. Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan recently tweeted, questioning politicians on why they find being on the Exit Control List (ECL) so upsetting. He was responding to the critique over placing Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) politicians’ names on the ECL. Why are some of our lawmakers so scared of the ECL? Why are they so keen to go abroad? There is so much work to be done by politicians in & for Pak – the land ...

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Human Rights Day: What will you ‘celebrate’, Pakistan?

Every year, December 10th is marked as the Human Rights Day. On this day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that lists down basic human rights guaranteed to the population of the world. This year marks the 70th anniversary of this resolution. It is important to note that sustainable growth is not achievable until and unless the human rights of the world are protected. Besides commemorating 70 years of the resolution, we should vow to stand for the civil, economic, political and cultural rights of our people; after all, ...

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Pakistan did not need to pick a side in the Canada-Saudi Arabia conflict

I had the pleasure of visiting the Pakistani consulate in Toronto the other day to renew my passport. Every time I enter the consulate, it’s like I am transported back in time to a bureaucratic government office in Islamabad in the 90s. Passport renewal process in Pakistan has been improved and streamlined yet our consulates and embassies still operate as if this is Nawaz Sharif’s first term in office. But I digress. I was seated next to a bearded gentleman who was also there to renew his passport. We struck up a conversation and I found out that this man ...

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From Zahid to Bubbly

“So you have decided to keep humiliating us in front of people,” he said with a roaring voice. His beloved Baba had slapped Zahid on wearing red lipstick again. “You are a boy, a man! The only waris (successor) of our hundreds of acres of land. I will beat you black and blue if I ever find you doing anything girly again.” Zahid had tightly clenched a broken red lipstick in his hands. Baba was continuously lecturing him about masculinity but surprisingly, all this scolding was appearing so rhythmical to him. Baba was admonishing him but he was dancing in his mind, wrapping red dupatta and responding ...

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I am one of the ‘entitled millennials’ whose conscience got pricked by Mohammad Jibran Nasir

There was a post making its rounds on Facebook that caught my attention, which said, “If you were to meet your eight-year-old self today, what advice would you give?” And then a slightly more chilling question, “What would your eight-year-old self say about you?” I remember myself at eight, naïve and highly impressionable, living in a world of make-believe, convinced that life was as simple as being one of the good guys and standing up against all forces of evil. But with time and growth came the realisation that things aren’t so simple. This is a blog I may perhaps be better off not writing. ...

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