Empowered parliamentarians are key to ensuring the protection of human rights in Pakistan
Pakistan’s General Election in June 2018 brought many first-time parliamentarians into office. While human rights increasingly feature as a governance priority in the country, DRI and the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services brought together 42 new Members of the Provincial Assemblies of Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa and the Legislative Assemblies of Azad Kashmir who concluded that parliamentarians can play a pivotal role in the promotion of human rights in Pakistan.
The dialogue, held in Islamabad on 4 and 5 December 2018, was opened by the Federal Minister for Human Rights, Ms. Sheerin Meherunisa Mazari, who briefed the Members of the Provincial Assemblies on the Ministry’s efforts to address pressing human rights issues. This includes among others the submission of a four-point Proposal of Action to the Prime Minister on enforced disappearances as well as work on anti-torture and domestic workers issues. She emphasised the key role of parliamentarians in the provinces subsequent to the 18th Amendment of the Pakistani Constitution and the transfer of powers from the federal to the provincial level.
The two-day dialogue clarified the fundamental human rights inscribed in Pakistan’s constitution as well as Pakistan’s international human rights obligations and how they result in national and provincial level responsibilities. Former Senator Afrasiab Khattak gave insights into the progress and regress of human rights in Pakistan from his perspective as a former Member of the Pakistani Senate, elaborating how public representatives have been able to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights in the past.