The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expressed its apprehension on Sunday on the growing sense of powerlessness among ordinary people amid economic deprivation and unemployment, the watchdog said in a statement.
The general body of the HRCP said at the conclusion of its 37th annual general meeting, the rights watchdog in the country believes that the most serious victims of political engineering in the run-up to the general elections have been democracy, electoral politics and the rule of law.
“Additionally, the establishment’s incursions into civic and political spaces have damaged the prospect of free, fair and credible elections. Concerns over contentious delimitations must also be taken into account by the ECP [Election Commission of Pakistan],” the statement said.
In the statement, the HRCP condemned the “continuing curbs on freedom of expression, not only have journalists been summarily removed for expressing dissenting opinions, but many have also been prevented from reporting on recent events” in certain areas.
“HRCP is well aware of the pressures on the media and is determined to hold the state accountable for such restrictions as the elections approach. It also demanded the removal of the chair of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances for poor track record.
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The statement drew attention of the relevant authorities towards the state of law and order situation, especially in the kachha areas of Sindh and Punjab, amid reports that vulnerable Hindu families were being compelled to migrate.
“The provincial governments must heed to residents’ credible suspicion that influential persons are involved in drawing financial or political benefits from the deteriorating security situation,” the HRCP said in the statement.
It also expressed its concerns over the rise in the number of police encounters and reminded the state that extrajudicial killings, torture and enforced disappearances were crimes against humanity and could not be justified under any circumstances.
Also the HRCP demanded the mainstreaming of the newly-merged districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) without any delay and the empowerment of the local bodies in these tribal districts. It also expressed concern over the revival of the Fata [the former Federally-Administered Tribal Areas] Tribunal.
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It called on the government to monitor the situation in Parachinar, Kurram district, and protect people’s right to security by preventing further violence there. It also raised alarm over the allotment of collectively owned land in Gilgit-Baltistan to private individuals.
The statement noted that the rising number of suicides, especially in Sindh, South Punjab and Gilgit, were a cause for concern, given that many cases were connected to rising poverty and economic deprivations. “The HRCP is especially alarmed by rights violations against vulnerable groups.”