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Monday, December 6, 2021
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Pakistan’s human rights group raises threat level over freedom of expression

IST The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan raised concerns over the attempts to silence freedom of speech, expression and opinion in the country.

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State-sponsored terrorism against neighbouring countries has been a long-standing concern for nations in the Indian sub-continent, but internal conflicts reinstate the threat level on human rights violation in the Islamic country that has on several occasions been accused of perpetrating violence in the region.

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In the latest instance of it, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Wednesday raised severe concerns over the country’s attempts to silence freedom of speech, expression and opinion in the country.

“HRCP is increasingly alarmed by attempts to smother freedom of expression and opinion in the country–from the PTA’s ham-fisted bid to disrupt internet services to the venue of the Asma Jahangir Conference and detractors questioning its funding, to the Pakistan Ulema Council’s demand that the state takes action against the convenors for having allegedly ‘defamed’ the army and judiciary,” the HRCP said in a statement.

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The concerns were raised during the recently concluded Asma Jahangir Conference 2021, where speakers deliberated on the theme of ‘Freedom of Religion and Belief’.

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“In an environment where marginalised voices – particularly those from Balochistan and grassroots movements such as the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement – have to fight to be 74 heard on human rights, such steps are at odds with the government’s claim that Pakistan’s media is ‘free’,” the HRCP said.

An expert panel said at the Lahore seminar that “religious and sectarian minorities suffer systematic discrimination and violence in Pakistan”.

“Despite all discrimination, we own this land and accept the Constitution of Pakistan,” the speakers said, as per a report by The News International.

Noted Pakistani scholar Pervez Hoodbhoy claimed that Christians, Hindus and Parsis have over time left Pakistan due to the rampant discrimination and violence.

“The extremists are empowered due to encouragement by the state as Hazaras suffer gross violations of human rights,” Jalila Haider, a representative of the Hazara community, alleged.

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