By Obaid Abbasi
- Rs750m allocated but Rs80m utilizes in two years
The action plan of human rights ministry for the protection of human rights in the country seems good on paper but there are no concrete steps taken by the ministry despite an allocation of huge funds, Pakistan Today has learnt.
The ministry took an initiative to protect the human rights under its action plan approved by the prime minister, and a fund of Rs 750 million was allocated for the plan. However, the plan seems to be a part of paper only; Rs 80m were utilised on seminar and consultation, sources close to the development told Pakistan Today.
According to the sources, Rs 750m were allocated for the plan, which included Rs 400m for the human rights education and awareness, Rs 250m for the human rights institute of Pakistan and Rs100 was allocated for endowment fund to legal aid to the poor victims.
The sources said that out of Rs750m, the ministry utilised Rs80m only. According to the sources, Rs 100m were allocated for endowment funds, so legal aid could be given to the poor victims. However, not a single penny was spent on affected family which is surprising.
The ministry also established a helpline to give legal advice and the project was approved at the cost of Rs37m. However, the helpline remained dysfunctional.
On the other hand, the ministry claimed to have taken up over seven thousand cases of human rights violations, but there was no record of the resolved cases, which raised serious questions over the performance of the ministry.
The cases were acid attack, murder, kidnappings, rape, target killings, extra-judicial killings and honour killings. The ministry claimed to have received 7,372 cases from different sources, some of them from media, NGOs.
The ministry was coordinating with two Commissions, National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) and National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW). However, there was no progress as majority of cases remained unresolved and victims still await justice.
Sources said that ministry only pursues the case when lawmakers take action over the violation of human rights. “Rs171.900m were allocated in the budget of 2015-16 but ministry has only conducted seminars,” said the sources.
Similarly, on the legislation side, the ministry’s performance remained slow, as only one Hindu Marriage Bill, 2017 was passed recently, despite the fact that ministry is bound to make laws for basic human and minorities rights. The ministry has yet to finalise Christian Marriage and Divorce Act.
Repeated attempts were made to contact minister for human rights, Kamran Michael, but he was not available for comments. Khawaja Jawad, spokesman of the ministry insisted for a visit to his office for details.
When contacted Human Resource Director General Muhammad Arshad, he claimed that ministry has been following the cases, and in this regard a task force has already been established. “I don’t know how many cases were resolved by the ministry but the task force often reviews the progress,” he claimed.
The official confirmed that not a single penny of allocated Rs 100m fund was given to poor victims under endowment fund. “How can the ministry give such huge amount for legal assistance, as a proper procedure is required to do so,” he claimed.