ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shireen M. Mazari addressed the “Leaders in Islamabad Business Summit”, and outlined the progress made by the incumbent government regarding human rights.
In her address, the minister stressed that initiatives under Imran Khan including Ehsaas Program and Health Card are paving the way for a more egalitarian society, and a just welfare state where marginalized groups are provided a social safety net and provided equal opportunities.
The minister also highlighted the steps taken by the Ministry of Human Rights to ensure access to justice, accountability, and strengthen existing mechanisms. The Legal Aid and Justice Authority has been set up, and it recently held its board of governors meeting to discuss the operationalization of the Authority. The Ministry has also been focusing on beginning reform in the criminal justice system.
Shireen Mazari stressed such steps are critical to ensuring that even if someone cannot afford a lawyer, they are not denied access to justice. She also outlined the incumbent government’s legislation aimed at protecting human rights. These include the recent Islamabad Capital Territory Senior Citizens Bill, 2021, the amendment to in Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Bill, the amendment to The Employment of Children Act 1991.
The minister stressed that Pakistan has one of the most progressive transgender laws in the country, and transgender rights have been a focus of the Ministry’s agenda and to this end, it has set up protection centers and led training and sensitization workshops for the judiciary and police.
In addressing Gender-Based Violence, the Minister said that while there is no denying the violence and harassment women face, the Ministry of Human Rights has put an amendment Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Bill to widen its scope.
Moreover, it added special features to its helpline app during COVID-19 to ensure that women who wanted to report domestic violence in the presence or in fear of their perpetrator could do so by dialing a special number.
Dr. Shireen Mazari further discussed child abuse cases and the introduction of the Zainab Alert app to prevent child abuse and kidnapping cases. She also highlighted legislations on enforced disappearances, Journalist protection and forced conversion, and preparation of an action plan on business in human rights.
Shireen Mazari further highlighted that the first time the government has introduced nationalistic and Pakistan-centric foreign and defense policies.
In the end, she also emphasized that certainty of laws is more important than the severity of laws. We need to change the mindset through awareness and education.
The summit was also attended by the Governor Sindh Imran Ismael, Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhary and Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi, and the international and national business community.