Stories about human rights

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

#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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

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, ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post