Human rights defenders discuss way forward for Pakistan

LAHORE: At a seminar held by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on constitutionalism and human rights, a high-profile panel of human rights defenders discussed a way forward for Pakistan to progress as a democracy.

The panel included HRCP honorary spokesperson I.A. Rehman, HRCP Secretary General Harris Khalique, HRCP council member and Supreme Court advocate Hina Jilani, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists Secretary General Nasir Zaidi, Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services Former Director Zafarullah Khan, former senators Afrasiab Khattak, Farhatullah Babar and Taj Haider; Justice Shakeel Baloch, senior journalists Muhammad Ziauddin, Hamid Mir and Asma Shirazi; Supreme Court Bar Association Secretary General Shamim Malik and political activist Dr Aasim Sajjad Akhtar.

The seminar was attended by a cross section of society.

A resolution adopted by the panel urged the political leadership to ensure supremacy of the parliament, rule of law, and the people’s fundamental freedoms and rights. It stated that elected representatives should ensure that the system of governance rested on established laws and constitutional norms, instead of ordinances.

The resolution also noted how political engineering by undemocratic forces had damaged the democratic process and encouraged selective accountability. The actions of law enforcement agencies, primarily intelligence agencies, should be brought within the ambit of the law through a strong, independent parliamentary oversight mechanism.

According to the resolution, the policing duties in the tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa must be handed over to civilian law enforcement institutions. The insidious practice of running internment centres in KP must also cease.

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