On Friday (December 10), World Human Rights Day was observed throughout the globe with a commitment to protect the rights of every human. Seventy-three years ago, on December 10, 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted a remarkable resolution. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, passed in Paris, France, recognises the rights and freedom of all humans.
The 30-article document also has the honour of being translated into over 500 languages. Article 1 emphasises the promotion of equality while eliminating inequality around the world. Promoting equality is also one of the top priorities of the UN Global Agenda 2030.
Unfortunately, Pakistan is celebrating International Human Rights Day at a time when the tragic death of an innocent Sri Lankan national in Sialkot has deeply affected the nation.
Many Pakistani social media users are expressing sympathy with the family of the Sri Lankan man. People continue to lay flowers at the memorial, an initiative by the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, whereas various sections of people, including religious scholars, have visited the Sri Lankan High Commission to condemn the barbaric incident. Our law-enforcement agencies have successfully detained the main suspects.
Expressing solidarity with the bereaved family, I stressed the need to curb extremism and ensure the prevention of false and baseless allegations of blasphemy. In my view, people like Malik Adnan, who tried his best to save the Sri Lankan national, reflect our traditional society which is based on tolerance and co-existence. His efforts also reminded me of a historical event attributed to Prophet Ibrahim (AS). A small sparrow came with water in its mouth when the Prophet of Allah was being set on fire by his powerful enemies. The bird knew that this little water would not be able to extinguish the flames, but she tried her best for the good cause without worrying about the consequences.
Pakistan is one of the 48 countries in the world that signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Although every government of Pakistan expresses its commitment to protect human rights, the actual, unsatisfactory situation is a big question mark for human rights activists. Some extremist elements involved in human rights violations are gaining strength day by day.
It is my observation that people were provoked on the basis of religious discrimination to attack Hindu temples in Bhong Sharif, Ghotki and Karak. Similarly, a Hindu teacher named Nautan Lal is still in custody in Ghotki on blasphemy allegations which were made by a ten-year-old student. Extremist elements in Pakistan are few – perhaps not more than five percent in number, but, unfortunately, they are in a position to provoke the sentiments of people by making baseless allegations against any person.
On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, we should commit to transforming our homeland into a model country where every human being – men, women or children, a minority or a majority – must have the freedom to live happily within constitutional limits.
It is a matter of pride for me that after entering the sacred profession of a doctor, I have ensured the treatment of every patient without any bias. In loving memory of my great brother Dr Prem Kumar Vankwani, I have launched a welfare project called ‘Prem Nagar’ in Tharparkar where every person will be eligible to get relief regardless of his/her religious affiliation.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in my opinion, must be broadcasted on our national media with Urdu translation. We must include this declaration in our educational curriculum to teach our young generation the significance of serving humanity and protecting human rights.
The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of thePakistan Hindu Council and tweets @RVankwani
Originally published in