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The Press Freedom Map: White (Good ) Yellow (Fairly good) Orange (Problematic) Red (Bad) Black (Very bad).

Pakistan – A Case of Freedom of Expression and Human Rights

By Muhammad Ittefaq

ILMENAU (Germany): Concerns arise after sudden disappearance of four human right activists over security policies concerns and opposition to religious extremism. In Islamic Republic of Pakistan, it’s becoming more difficult to express your hear-out opinion through social, traditional, online media and blogs after Cyber Crime bill passed by National Assembly 2015. The bill is criticized by many lawyers, activists and social media users, because they have serious concerns over the bill. The government faces much criticism by the opposition parties and social activists. They were aware of misuse of the bill by some  law enforcement agencies.

Recently, four human activists abducted within a week included: Salman Haider, a poet, left activist and academic of Gender Studies at the Fatimah Jinnah Women’s University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Salman has written, directed and acted in plays performed in Pakistan and abroad with THEATER WALLAY. He was opposing extrajudicial disappearances, killings, sectarian violence and socio-economic injustice. He was writing for the online magazine TANQEED and pens an Urdu language blog. He is famous for his political satire and poetry. He wrote many famous poems about social problems in Pakistan. He got disappeared on January 6, 2017 and not recovered yet.

The Press Freedom Map: White (Good ) Yellow (Fairly good) Orange (Problematic) Red (Bad) Black (Very bad).

In the same week three other social activists disappeared from Lahore – capital city of Punjab province. Asim Saeed on his return from Singapore, Ahmad Waqas Goraya studied anthropology and lived in the Netherlands another social activist Holland based, on the same day on January 4, 2017. Saeed and Goraya were helping to run a Facebook page “MOCHI ” criticizing law enforcement agencies and the slogan is of their Facebook page was:

“We respect forces as much as they respect the Constitution of Pakistan”. They criticized the military involvement in national politics and some other issues.

The fourth man Ahmed Raza Naseer disappeared on January 7, from his shop in Sheikhupura, city of Punjab, Pakistan.

Another Social activist Samar Abbas disappeared from Islamabad (capital of Pakistan) heads the Civil Progressive Alliance Pakistan (CPAP) since Saturday night, January 7.

A government spokesman said that they are serious and trying their level best to recover four human activists as per their top priority. Human rights activists, Human Rights Watch, non-governmental organization and international non-governmental organizations and social media communities protesting the illegal abduction of four human and social activists.

The Interior Ministry said they are trying to solve the matter as soon as possible, but the question is that, are they aware about the abduction of these activists? Certainly, yes they know everything, but cannot do anything in this matter because some ‘people’ are more powerful as compared to them.

They are violating the Constitution of Pakistan, in terms of extrajudicial killings, disappearances of citizens as well as social activists. Article 19 and 19 A of the Constitution makes sure the freedom of expression and right to information of the citizens.

Many reports and articles are published in local and international newspapers, magazines and bloggers and there is a history of illegal detention and forced disappearance of suspects involved in terrorist activities, particularly after Army Public School Attack (APS) Peshawar on December 16, 2014, in the name of National Action Plan (NAP). Some examples of “forcibly disappearance of Zeenat Shhehzadi (freelance reporter in Pakistan), prominent human and social activists Khurram Zaki and Sabeen Mahmud were killed.

Two professors were taken away from Punjab University Institute of Administrative Sciences in 2016. Although, Dr. Aamer Saeed was released after investigation but Dr. Ghalib Atta is still missing. The life of his family members and there worries are beyond imagination.

According to Human Rights Watch it is a direct threat to right of expression. This can be another try to “silence” the human rights activists against violations. No action is being taken against orthodox and but the liberal voices are being forces to calm down.

Is Pakistan going to become radical Islamic state or liberal? Government always deliver a speech in the favour of human rights and social activists but in reality they differ.

Everyone, including parliament, politicians and the interior ministry talked about the matter, but it’s really a shameful act for the international image of the country that no concrete steps are being taken to stop this.

According to The World Press Freedom Index 2016, Pakistan ranks 147th out of 180 countries. In 2014 Amnesty International reported that 34 journalists had been killed in Pakistan. The situation in India is more or less same where in recent week 3 journalists were killed but right now Pakistan is one of the most dangerous country in the world for reporters and right activists.

China and Saudi Arabia also doing somehow same and they are also warning and abducting social and human activists and for this their image is also not good in The Press Freedom Index in the world and they are even worse than Pakistan.

I believe there should be some limits and everyone should work within his/her rights and under the Constitution of Pakistan. Human right activists must use appropriate words, language and images while expressing their views in blogs, social and traditional media. On the other hand, law enforcement agencies and other departments must respect the rule of law and the constitution of the country. There should a balance.

(The writer is a media  graduate and The Educationist Resident Editor in Germany. He can be reached at: ittefaqmuhammad1@gmail.com)

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