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Islam and Human Rights ( 20 March 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan has Signed but does not Follow UN Protocol on Religious Freedom: Jamil Maqsood tells UNHRC

By Sardar Jamil Maqsood

Focus on Pakistan’s non-compliance of UN Conventions in Human Rights Council’s Debate on Durban Declaration in Geneva

UN Human Rights Council, Nineteenth session, March 2012

Agenda item 9: General Debate on Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, follow-up and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

Oral statement by  Sardar Jamil Maqsood in UNHRC

Date: 20 March 2012

Madam Chair,

The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action repeatedly calls for protection of the fundamental rights of minorities and women and children as enshrined in the universal declaration of human Rights and urges states to protect any such weaker sections and not to discriminate against them on any ground. Unfortunately some countries sign these agreements and yet continue to violate them in practice.  For example, the country I come from, Pakistan is a case in point. Pakistan has signed convention of civil and political rights and protocol on religious freedom and freedom of thoughts, but the practice of the State and even the laws that have been promulgated there are completely contradictory to the letter and spirit of these conventions.

For instance, the 1973 constitution of Pakistan declares “Ahmadis” as non-Muslims in clause 295C. It says: “Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine”. This article is specifically directed against the Ahmadi sect.  No wonder Ahmadis are under attack since that article has been incorporated in the book of law. Anyone accused under this law is not given right to a fair trial.  Same is the fate of Shia minorities in that country. They are constantly under attack by extremists of the majority Sunni sects.

Similarly, there is hardly a constitutional representation given to the people of Pakistani Administered Kashmir (the so called Azad Kashmir) the administered regions of Gilgit Baltistan under Pakistan. The majority of the people in both regions are socially, economically and politically marginalized. Their fundamental rights have been curtailed. For instance the nationalist political parties which are striving for the unification and independence of the former state of Jammu & Kashmir are not allowed to take part in election on the basis of ideology in the article 7 sub section (2), which says that “No person or political party in Azad Jammu and Kashmir shall be permitted to propagate against, or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to, the ideology of the State’s accession to Pakistan”. This is contrary to the stand of Pakistan in article 257 of 1973 constitution which says that when the people of the state of Jammu & Kashmir decide to accede to Pakistan, the relationship between Pakistan and that state shall be determined in accordance with the wishes of that state.

Pakistan agreed to the stipulations of Truce Agreement with India but has not complied so far. Pakistan had agreed to withdraw its army and civilians from the Kashmir region. And under UNCIP, resolutions Pakistan had to help the people of the region to establish a local authority. But instead of doing so Pakistan started a proxy war in the area and has been as a matter of policy making use of so-called Azad Kashmir as a launching pad and terrorist hub to advance its agenda in the region.  From Operation Gibraltar to Operation Topac there is a history of covert operations in the state of Kashmir. All these operations resulted in escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan. Pakistan has invested millions of dollars to create proxy leadership in other part of the state and at international level. In almost of all international terrorist attacks including 9/11, Pakistani state security apparatus has been involved. Even the most wanted terrorist Osama bin laden was found on 2nd May-201 living in comfort in a military garrison town in Pakistan.

Of course, organs of Pakistani state and its intelligence community have been constantly denying any knowledge about him. He was running global terrorist operations from Pakistani soil. This leaves very little doubt that he was enjoying full protection of the secret agencies of Pakistan who consider themselves to be above the law. These agencies are not accountable to anyone. The apex court of Pakistan is trying to bring them under law of the land. The country’s main opposition political parties too are demanding that perpetrators of human rights violations be brought to justice. And if someone has committed any crime he should have the right to a free and fair trial under national and international laws.

The worst condition in Pakistan is that of women. They are an easy target of the powerful feudal system that still exists in Pakistan. Their bodies become a battleground. Rape is the most common phenomenon in the rural areas where most of the incidents have been resolved through local Jirgas; the police don’t interfere in such cases until Supreme Court takes suo moto action. The media is taking up cases of missing persons whose parents, sisters, and wives are staging demonstrations in front of Parliament of Pakistan.  The situation is catastrophic in Balochistan where more than nine thousand people are missing.  The situation is the same in other parts including Pakistani administered Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.

I’ would also like to highlight miseries of the people of so called Azad Kashmir who don’t have adequate health, education and development facilities. We believe that the entire population is facing systematic forms of discrimination. Entire administration is controlled by the powerful officials from the ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Kashmir council and above all GOC (General officer commanding), Murree. A military officer holds absolute power to rule this region. We also request this august house to play its role to end racial discrimination and systematic forms of xenophobia in Pakistani administered regions of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit & Baltistan. As a people it is our right to request world community to come forward and protect us.

Thank you.