available languages: english March 15, 2021

DRI Pakistan’s Shaheera Syed looks at how DRI worked with local authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to introduce the province’s first comprehensive plan to protect human rights.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which borders Afghanistan, has long been undermined by conflict. Since 2010 DRI has been working with the provincial government, legislators, and civil society to strengthen democracy and respect for human rights.

In February 2016, Pakistan introduced its first national plan to protect human rights. Since then, the country’s provinces have been introducing new measures. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) first developed a policy on human rights in 2018 to ensure the protection, promotion, and enforcement of human rights within the province. However, until recently, there was no concrete plan to guide the implementation of this policy.

This is where DRI’s Pakistan office comes in. In collaboration with the provincial Department of Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Human Rights, we started working on developing an implementation plan in 2019.

The first step was to take stock of the human rights situation in the province. We met with human rights defenders, civil society groups and government officials to get their input on the situation and their ideas for turning KP’s policy into a concrete plan.

Basing ourselves on the findings, we helped write the province’s first ‘Human Rights Action Plan’ in alignment with the national action plan, KP’s human rights policy and Pakistan’s international human rights commitments.

The plan will help improve how government policies are designed, delivered, and overseen to better protect human rights. This includes measures ranging from establishing child units in each district of the province to developing women-oriented legislation.

The plan also provides a way forward for improved coordination between provincial government entities to streamline how the plan goes into effect.

The Human Rights Action Plan is a milestone achievement of the provincial government and DRI’s engagement with the human rights bodies and women parliamentary caucus was extremely helpful,” said Maliha Ali Asghar Khan, Chairperson of the Woman Parliamentary Caucus (WPC) and member of the Standing Committee on Law, Parliamentary Affairs, and Human Rights KPK. She added that DRI’s assistance helped with the activation of the provincial human rights committees which will enable parliamentary oversight, improving the protection of human rights, especially of women.

“The work we have done with the authorities in KP helps bridge the gap between the international commitments Pakistan has made to human rights and the specific needs on the ground in the province,” says Javed Malik, DRI’s Country Representative in Pakistan.

“We were happy to help facilitate the process, which was led by those who will be directly affected by it. Ultimately, the success of this plan rests on active involvement and political support from local elected representatives to make sure that it turns into reality.

Find out more about DRI’s work in Pakistan here: http://democracy-reporting.org/pakistan/