Under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government, Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan was passed by the National Assembly on April 10, 1973 which received the presidential approval on April 12, 1973. Today the Senate of Pakistan, in collaboration with the four provinces, is going to celebrate the Constitution Day but the dilemma is that people are unaware of the rights that have been gifted to them by Pakistani constitution. This is mainly due to lack of reading and research habit in our people.
We don’t find time to read and study about our religion, our country, our society and most importantly about our rights. Constitution of 1973 comprises of 280 articles and seven schedules and since then we have amended our constitution 20 times. Today I want to recall some of the fundamental rights that have been awarded to you by the Constitution of Pakistan. These are the very basic rights every Pakistani must know.
Article 19 (FREEDOM OF SPEECH)
According to the Article 19 every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression reasonable to any restrictions imposed by the law in the glory or integrity of Islam or any part thereof.
Point to be noted is that where our constitution provides us liberty of speech it prohibits us as well from hate speech or making any offensive remarks that is against any sector that can sabotage peace in the society.
Article 11 (SAFEGUARD AGAINST SLAVERY AND FORCED LABORS)
Slavery is forbidden and all forms of forced labour are prohibited under the 1973 constitution. No person can be forced to work against his will and no children below 14 years of age can be engaged in any labour.
But in Pakistan we see thousands of children begging on the roads or working as labourers in the workshops, food streets etc. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimated in 1990’s that there are 11 million children living as child labourers and half of them were under the age of ten.
Article 17 (FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION)
Every citizen of Pakistan not working in the public sector shall have right to form or be the member of a political party.
Definition by the book: Every citizen shall have the right to form associations or unions, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan, public order or morality.
Article 25: (EQUALITY OF CITIZEN)
All citizens of Pakistan are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law. There is no discrimination on the basis of race, religion, caste and sex.
But in Pakistan, we are divided into class system which is breaking all the values of our society.
Article 10: (SAFEGUARD AS TO ARREST AND DETENTION)
Every person who is arrested and detained in custody shall be produced before a Magistrate within a period of twenty four hours of his arrest. He has the rights to consult or be defended by a lawyer of his choice.
In the constitution of Pakistan from Article 8 to Article 28 there are fundamental rights of the citizens of Pakistan. These are 5 of them which I thought to discuss but there are many other important rights you are unaware of.
State is responsible for providing these rights to citizens. How can we question an authority if we are unaware of our rights? Reading and sharing awareness about our rights is very important to become active and vibrant citizens. Through this article, I request my readers to please know your rights.