Sunday, February 10, 2019
, Human Rights Watch released an explosive report documenting the numerous violations of labor practices it had found in Pakistan’s garment factories. Incorporating testimony from over 140 people—workers, union leaders, government representatives, labor rights advocates—the global watchdog found abuses ranging from salaries below minimum age, to forced overtime, insufficient breaks, and a blatant disregard for regulations requiring paid maternity leave.
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH REPORT HIGHLIGHTS RAMPANT ABUSE WITHIN PAKISTAN’S GARMENT INDUSTRY
The sweatshop conditions are largely the result of a lack of accountability that allows factory owners to capitalize on high poverty rates, forcing laborers to bear the inhumane working conditions or risk destitution. “There are 300 to 400 workers in the factory crammed in a small space. The factory is filthy, and cleaning is done rarely. There is no clean drinking water in the factory,” said one worker at a Lahore factory.
Women workers face even greater challenges as laws concerning maternity leave are completely absent. “Pregnant women are ‘left’ [a euphemism for termination] and now whenever a woman worker becomes pregnant, she leaves the job herself to avoid the indignity of being fired,” notes HRW.
Labor activists and union leaders who have attempted to halt the atrocities are shunned, according to testimony, with any worker seen even talking to a union representative immediately dismissed from service without cause.
It is high time, as recommended by the rights body, that Pakistan’s federal and provincial governments step in to revise relevant labor laws and ensure they are in line with international labor standards. More importantly, implementation must be prioritized via regular and thorough inspections to ensure the labor force is protected.
P.M. Khan has repeatedly pledged to establish a welfare state in Pakistan. Ensuring the rights of impoverished laborers would be a fine first step in achieving this lofty goal.
Thus, the first order of business for those at the helms in Islamabad should be to come clean to the Pakistani electorate. For this, they must be reminded that they cannot claim to be upholding the oath of their offices, while condoning violations of their subordinates at the same time. The two cannot carry on together, and as harsh as it may sound, the frequency of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, crackdown on peaceful protests, and muzzling of people’s right to speech suggests that at the moment none of the higher ups in Islamabad are truly upholding oaths of their offices.
The FIR registered against Dr Jan was such a hurried affair that it referred to laws about which state personnel couldn’t bring up any evidence in front of the sessions court that granted the academic’s plea for a bail. Alongside, the FIR also mentioned a colonial era law, introduced to deny the people their fundamental rights in the name of public order. Back then, it was an order imposed by an illegitimate regime. Today, we recognise the legitimacy of our state institutions on grounds that they will uphold the law, since the law reflects the will of our people. The only kind of order worth imposing, and guarding, is the order that flows from such democratically enacted laws. The Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Ordinance that gets invoked at the whim of a commissioner, another legacy of the colonial times, does not stand for such a public order, and there must be no room for it in our statute books. The Parliament must, therefore, take cognisance and immediately repeal it as well as other colonial legacies in our law books.
The executive and the judicial authorities, meanwhile, should wake up to the crisis of legitimacy that keeps getting worse by day. The peaceful and law-abiding academics, intellectuals and dissenters in general will only strengthen the state and its contract with the people. The state must shun paranoia, and enable these critical voices in their endeavours.
By PERVEZ HOODBHOY
|The city of Dhaka|
Bangladesh’s priorities are economic growth and human development whereas the bulk of Pakistan’s national energies remain focused on check-mating India.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Pakistani authorities to release and drop all legal proceedings against television reporter Rizwan Razi, who is accused of making “defamatory” comments against the country’s authorities.
"Expressing opinions, even critical opinions, should not be a crime, in Pakistan or anywhere," the New York-based media watchdog’s Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler said in a statement on February 9.
"Justice -- and Pakistan's constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press -- can only be served by Rizwan Razi's immediate release," Butler added.
Razi’s arrest comes as media workers and activists face unprecedented pressure from Pakistani authorities. Dozens of rights activists and journalists critical of authorities have been detained, arrested, or fled the country out of fear for their safety in recent years.
Razi -- a TV host for Din News, a privately owned Urdu-language news station -- was taken from his home and placed in custody in the eastern city of Lahore on the morning of February 9.
His son, Osama Razi, said that unknown men attacked his father and then dragged him into a car.
Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that Razi had been arrested for social-media postings that allegedly violated Pakistan's Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act.
Razi was being investigated for alleged "defamatory and obnoxious posts" on his Twitter account against Pakistan’s "judiciary, government institutions, and intelligence agencies," according to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
The agency also said that the journalist had "confessed" to uploading the posts, apologized, and promised to refrain from posting similar material in the future.
It was unclear what specifically led to Razi’s arrest.
Earlier this month, he criticized extrajudicial killings in Punjab Province at the hands of security forces, according to screenshots of Twitter postings provided to the CPJ, the media watchdog said.
The journalist’s Twitter account appeared to be offline on February 9.
Pakistan is ranked 139th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.
By KATHY GANNON / AP
A Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy after spending eight years on death row in Pakistan has been transferred from a secret location near the capital to another in Karachi, but is still unable to leave the country to join her daughters in Canada, a friend said Saturday. Aman Ullah, who spoke to Aasia Bibi by telephone Friday, said the 54-year-old Bibi is being held in a room in the southern port city. He said Bibi, who faces death threats by radical Islamists, is frustrated and frightened, uncertain of when she will be able to leave Pakistan.
“She has no indication of when she will leave … they are not telling her why she cannot leave,” said Ullah, who fled the country Friday after receiving threats from extremists angered by his assistance to Bibi, which began while she was on death row.
Ullah has been a liaison between Bibi and European diplomats, who have sought to assist her. The Associated Press spoke to Bibi by telephone with Ullah’s assistance following her October acquittal, which was upheld last month.
Bibi’s ordeal began in 2009 when two fellow farmworkers refused to drink from the same container as a Christian woman. There was a quarrel and the two Muslim women later accused Bibi of blasphemy. The Supreme Court judges said there were widespread inconsistencies in the testimony against Bibi, who has steadfastly maintained her innocence. The acquittal should have given Bibi her freedom, but Ullah said diplomats were told that her departure from Pakistan, where she feels her life would be in danger, would come not in the short term, but “in the medium term.”
He said Bibi told him she is locked in one room of a house.
“The door opens at food time only,” said Ullah, and she is allowed to make phone calls in the morning and again at night. He said she usually calls her daughters.
Bibi’s husband is with her, he said.
“She is living with her family and given requisite security for safety,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said in an email.
He said the government was responsible for taking “all possible measures” to protect her and her family, adding that “she is a free citizen after her release from jail and can move anywhere in Pakistan or abroad.”
Bibi told Ullah the security detail assigned to her refuses to explain why she is still confined.
Bibi’s case has brought international attention to Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which carries an automatic death sentence for a conviction of insulting Islam. There have been widespread complaints that the law is used to settle scores and intimidate religious minorities, including Shiite Muslims.
The mere suggestion of blasphemy can incite mobs to kill. After Bibi’s October acquittal the radical Tehreek-e-Labbaik party called its followers onto the streets, where they protested for three days demanding Bibi’s immediate execution as well as the death of the judges who acquitted her. The party leadership also advocated overthrowing Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government and incited the military against the army chief. Since then the party’s leadership has been arrested along with dozens of their supporters for inciting violence.
Ullah, a rights activist, first began aiding those falsely charged with blasphemy when his wife was wrongly accused, and has since helped several people gain their freedom. Bibi’s case brought him to the attention of religious radicals.
In recent months, he has been physically assaulted, gunmen have opened fire on his home, and several religious radicals attacked his home. Ullah said he fears being attacked again or charged with blasphemy.
Bibi hopes to be able to join her daughters in Canada, where they have been granted asylum.
پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی کے چیئرمین بلاول بھٹو زرداری نے کہا ہے کہ پاکستان کے لیے یہ انتہائی اہم ہے کہ وہ افغان عمل کا حصہ بنے، دہشت گردی کے خلاف جنگ میں پاکستان نے بے شمار قربانیاں دیں ،پاکستان کا امن افغانستان سے جڑا ہوا ہے۔واشنگٹن میں صحافیوں سے گفتگو کرتے ہوئےانہوں نے مزید کہا کہ امریکی فوج کے انخلا ء کے بعد کی صورت حال کے لیے ہمیں منصوبہ سازی کرنی چاہیے، کسی بھی تنازع کا حل مصالحت ہے۔انہوں نے کہا کہ اسے مصالحت نہیں کہتے کہ آپ دشمن کو اطمینان دلائیں اور مطالبات مان لیں، مصالحت تب ہوتی ہے جب تمام فریق غلطی کا احساس کریں اور ذمہ داری قبول کریں۔انہوں نے پاک امریکا تعلقات اور افغانستان کی صورت حال پر یو ایس انسٹیٹیوٹ آف پیس میں بھی خطاب کیا۔