Stories about human rights

Should Pakistan release its prisoners during the coronavirus pandemic?

Every person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond any shadow of doubt however, the fate of 48,008 prisoners who are under trial but still languishing in Pakistan’s jails, hangs in the balance. Not only were they already vulnerable because prosecutions, many a times, fail to prove charges, long after a sentence has been served, or worse, the accused has died in jail. But now with the pandemic, they are also more susceptible to the coronavirus outbreak, as many jails are filled to more than capacity. In times of enforced social isolation and distancing, prisons in Pakistan are ...

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Can Pakistan hold India responsible for religious discrimination?

A couple of days ago, the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 was passed by the Lok Sabha (upper house and the Rajya Sabha (lower house) of the Indian Parliament. Due to the discriminatory and exclusionary nature of the act, the Indian government is getting a lot of heat from the international media. Internally also, India has received and continues to receive flak from the liberal sections of the Indian press, Muslims and from populations of the northeastern states of India, who fear that the aforementioned bill will endanger their indigenous culture and languages. Several international humanitarian organisations, such as the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Amnesty ...

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Battling the human rights crisis in Kashmir 

It seems that PTI’s Kashmir narrative has, unfortunately lost some of its momentum on the international stage. The human rights struggle in Kashmir remains in limbo, as over eight million people in the region are still under a constant lock-down. The government’s policy in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) has been slightly marred by the lack of a subsequent follow through. Meanwhile, the Indian government has revealed the hidden demons of a society which is polarised beyond repair and a government which is furthering the religious divide in the country. The nation, already fragmented over claims of atrocities taking place inside its own geographic boundaries, has to be held responsible ...

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The plight of Balochistan’s differently abled

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated on December 3rd annually. According to a fact sheet issued by the United Nations (UN), differently abled people account for 15 percent of the world’s population and despite 18 million people living with either a physical or intellectual disability in Pakistan, it is not a very inclusive country. Balochistan is no different especially since it is also suffering from dismal conditions with barely any focus on literacy and many living under the poverty line. In such conditions, it is no surprise that differently abled people are marginalised in the province. According to ...

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Maleeha Lodhi: Spilling tea with the architect of Pakistan’s diplomatic coup at the UN

On a bright Sunday morning, right after Pakistan managed to raise the Kashmir issue at a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting – despite India throwing everything and the kitchen sink to stop it – we sat down for a conversation with UN Ambassador Dr Maleeha Lodhi at her official residence on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. We unpacked how Pakistan managed to orchestrate the UNSC meeting after five decades, what’s next for Pakistan at the UN, and what a typical day in her life looks like during these extraordinary times. “The fact that the UNSC meeting took place showed that ...

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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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