Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had envisioned a Pakistan where the rights of minorities would be safeguarded but unfortunately, the history being taught to children in the country is distorted, Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani said on Saturday.
“There are 20 or 21 clauses in the Constitution of Pakistan for safeguarding the rights of minorities but even then they are being marginalised,” he noted while speaking at a seminar on “Constitutional Framework for the Protection of Human Rights” at a hotel.
The seminar was organised under the auspices of the National Commission for Human Rights and the National Commission on Status of Women.
“If a child in Punjab reads about Bhagat Singh, what’s wrong with that?” he said. “After all, he was a freedom fighter.”
The Senate chairman said he had reviewed the books taught to children and found a chapter on the advantages and disadvantages of dictatorship.
Surprisingly, he added there were 12 points on the “advantages” and eight points on its “disadvantages”.
He said the status quo eventually gave in but it did so with great pain. He said a common question that had remained unanswered was about where the power actually lay. “Since 1947, we have been raising this question but for one reason or the other, have been unable to come up with the answer.”
As a result, eh added, the federation was now at such a point that all paths headed towards destruction. “We need to change the attitude.”
Rabbanisaid the powers that be had changed the Quaid-e-Azam’s vision of Pakistan from a welfare state to a national security state.
“The power in Pakistan lies with the civil and military bureaucracy,” he said. “Let’s call a spade a spade. The history will hold us accountable if we don’t rise.”
He said many people had participated in demonstrations on the streets but withdrawn because of hardships.
“Where is our counter ideology? We had a progressive ideology but we have ceded that ground. Today, we witness only reactionary ideology,” he pointed out.
Rabbani said it was a “historical responsibility” on us, on our generation.
“If we have to safeguard this generation, we have to assert ourselves. We have to shake out of this complacency and it requires a certain amount of inner motivation otherwise the situation will not improve,” he maintained.
“Why do you expect anything good from the bureaucracy? Civil bureaucracy is part of State aristocracy.You cannot move forward until you identify yourself and fight the status quo. The colonial mindset still prevails in our society.”
Rabbani said the Arab culture was not his culture.
“My culture is the culture of Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pukhtunkhwaand Punjab and when they mingle they become the Pakistani culture,” he added.
“National Commission for Human Rights member Anees Haroon said the status of human rights across the world was painful and the situation was similar in Pakistan even although its Constitution ensured every human right, including access to clean drinking water, education, health, and right to speech.
“Are our State institutions fulfilling these obligations? Sadly, the answer is no,” she added.
Haroon said the best form of governance was democracy but a plural, political culture could not be established in Pakistan.
“If we don’t have faulty FIRs, many culprits can be punished by the judiciary.”
Haroon said Pakistan was signatory to the conventions on child rights and torture and it was our duty to ensure that they were implemented.
National Commission on Status of Women chairperson Khawar Mumtaz said provincial commissions had been established in Punjab and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa but it was yet to be set up in Sindh.
“Many structures are made but there is no implementation,” she regretted.
Sindh Human Rights Commission chairperson Justice (retd) Majida Rizvi said we need to see what type of education was being given to our children. “Our children are taught a distorted version of history and that would affect the shaping of our future,” she added.
National Commission for Human Rights Balochistan member Fazila Aliani said we had to think why our assemblies were not powerful and why the power was concentrated elsewhere. “The Baloch are marginalised,” she observed. “The Baloch should be trained and made a partner in policymaking.”