KARACHI: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Tuesday said that the use of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) by the government against political opponents, including his own party, amounted to an attack on basic human rights.
In his message on the eve of the International Human Rights Day, the PPP chairman, who also heads the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights, said that human rights violations were increasing in Pakistan since the installation of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.
The PTI government has overseen a campaign of repression of fundamental rights, from freedom of the press to freedom of association, he said.
Bilawal also stressed the importance of the state honouring its contract with its citizens and upholding the human rights of every citizen regardless of gender, creed, caste or ethnicity. He went on to say that any dereliction of this duty by the state would be a deviation from the founding principles of Pakistan and would be tantamount to a betrayal of the ethos of Pakistan.
He said that the Punjab government’s recent actions of filing FIRs against student leaders and against the father of Mashal Khan for sedition were a damning indictment of the government’s claims of being Riasat-e-Madina. “Freedom of expression, freedom of religion and belief, women and children’s rights and protection of vulnerable segments has to be ensured for a peaceful and progressive society,” he added.
The PPP chairman also added that the economic policies being followed by the government were infringing on the dignity and right to life of the less privileged and were contributing to further marginalisation and erasure of the poor.
Bilawal said that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto led a struggle for the protection of democratic and human rights of the people, and laid down their lives for this cause. The war between the protectors and violators of human rights is still raging, he said while vowing to carry the mantle and honour of the legacy of his grandfather and mother.
The PPP chairman said that his party’s commitment to safeguarding human rights remains unshaken despite undergoing huge suffering and sacrifice. He added that the PTI government’s disregard for due process and its use of NAB as a tool of political victimisation was also an assault on the fundamental rights of Pakistani citizens and that the government is sorely mistaken if it believes that the victimisation of the leadership of the PPP would make it step back from its commitment to the rights of the people.
As a torch-bearer of the human rights movement in Pakistan, he said, the PPP will continue to fight vigorously despite facing hurdles and hounding.
Bilawal termed the incidents of intimidation of media, enforced disappearances and political victimisation as violations of basic human rights.
He also urged the world community to take notice of the grave violations of human rights in Indian Occupied Kashmir, where Indian armed forces have caged the entire population for over four months.