Do you know? There is a charter of human rights in UNO that grants rights to people at universal level. It is “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (UDHR) adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948. From rights of life to freedom of expression, it covers most of the human rights.
Do you know Pakistan is also a signatory state of UDHR?
I often question myself; are we really receiving our rights according to UDHR? The answer to this question is mostly ‘no’. Let’s consider this for a moment, we are not a free nation then how can we claim these rights? In fact most of the people even don’t know about these rights because we are not free. In 68 years of our so called “freedom” we were under military rule most of the time period, and here we claim to be a democracy! We blame “Yahood o Nisara” for everything, but we are among the countries with worst literacy rates in the world. How can an illiterate nation be heard on international level?
Face the reality, world considers us terrorists, personally in my attraction with any foreign citizen the first question that I face is “Are you living in a war area?” It really makes me think. It’s not just a question, it is our face. Mostly terrorist activities in Pakistan are controlled by jamming the mobile signals or blocking the road traffic on important occasions. In other countries that’s not how they fight extremism in fact it is known as the violation of basic human right. But, since we are not free, we do not realize our rights. Yes! A free nation can never tolerate the violation of its rights.
I remember once sitting with a respected teacher who told me about a very strange right that we all own. At the time of voting in 2013 general elections, he had come from America. He went to the respective polling station in his area with his passport to cast vote. Yes! With his passport. He didn’t had his ID card. Officer appointed at that polling station revoked him from casting his vote and told him to bring his ID card because even the officer didn’t know that anyone can cast vote on driving license or passport sans ID card. I was so amazed after listening to this story because even I didn’t knew about this right because no one ever told me that.
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” (Article 19, Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
As this article grants the right of freedom to all people. Similarly Pakistan’s Constitution has a similar article, article 19 about freedom of speech, but most of people in Pakistan are not aware of this right given by both UDHR and Constitution of Pakistan.
Recently a cyber law bill has been passed by National Assembly Standing Committee on IT and it is moving swiftly. If National Assembly approves it, it will become law and one keystroke on digital device can put anyone behind the bars for a long time. This bill also includes memes or jokes of any political nature. So now freedom of speech for Pakistan’s common man is in danger. But honestly speaking, I ask my university colleagues about this bill, most of them are oblivious. If literate people of Pakistan don’t know about this how a person living in a rural area can be aware of this? It’s solely our fault, we, the common people of Pakistan don’t bother to keep ourselves aware of our own rights!
Let’s leave UDHR aside. Muslims follow the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W). In his address on the event of Hajjatul-Wida, Hazrat Muhammad (S.AW.) also gave us the Islamic charter of human rights. Interestingly, most of the points in UDHR are similar to address he delivered. But still, from right to breathe to right of casting vote, from freedom of expression to accountability, from women rights to right of livelihood, we know very little because we are not free!