Human Rights and Pakistan
Amnesty International, an organization consisting of 149 member countries, has brought into light the darker side of the pandemic year. It has unveiled the viruses, besides the coronavirus, which most of the countries faced during this year. These viruses include gender-based violence, repression of dissent, discrimination, poor healthcare system, poverty, etc. The state of Pakistan is also not different from that. Crackdown on media, challenges to economic, social and cultural rights, persecution of religious minorities, violence against women, were a commonplace thing – even health workers, who safeguarded the country during this tough time, were detained.
The year 2020 worsened the already deteriorated state of the country. Whereas the state was busy in grappling with the challenges of climate change, inflation, overpopulation, declining worth of the currency, etc., the outbreak of the pandemic combined with increasing extremism exacerbated the state of affairs.
Prisoners were more vulnerable to the infectious disease as prisons were already overpopulated. Religious segregation intensified. Workers were denied of their rights. The progress of education declined owing to the closure of schools. Enforced disappearance remained alarming.
Educational institutions were closed, and classes were moved online. But most of the students could not further pursue their education owing to lack of accessories. As per the AI report, “Internet coverage remained inadequate with some 68% of the population having limited or no access, especially in remote areas.”
The closure of factories, shops and workplaces worsened the workers’ situation. There was no way to manage the financial crunch they had to face. Their families had to sleep without eating anything. The government announced to create almost 60,000 jobs to support these workers, but the promises, like always, could not be realized.
Women were harshly treated and abused during the pandemic. With growing use of social media, there was also an increase in women-targeting. “Young men and boys are being radicalized into hating women through online groups,” says a British author in his book. Domestic violence was reported more than ever. Sorrowfully, no practical steps were taken to counter such heinous crimes.
Freedom of religion and belief was often suppressed. In July, the boundary wall of a Hindu temple was torn down by a mob. The economic challenges fuelled by the human rights abuses have aggravated the state of affairs in Pakistan. There is a dire need to eradicate these menaces. Only then can our country enter the avenues of development and progress. If these impediments are left unresolved, Pakistan would be caught in a battered atmosphere.
The author studies English Language and Literature at Government
Murray College, Sialkot.