LAHORE - Militarisation of all sectors of civilian authority is damaging the democratic system and adversely affecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, which are being restricted in the name of security, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said.

“It has a negative impact on the rights of individuals and groups. HRCP demands that civilian oversight of all military actions must be ensured without exception and progress should be shared with the people regularly,” the HRCP said in a statement issued at the conclusion of the HRCP Executive Council yesterday.

“Freedom of speech and media, protest, movement and assembly are being violated and curbed on the pretext of ‘national security’ or ‘national interest’. Even expression of genuine apprehensions over development plans or commitments made by the government are being rubbished as being against ‘national interest’.

“In particular, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has acquired an aura of such official sanctity that any information sought on its details or airing reservations over its implementation are being denounced as acts of flagrant anti-nationalism. Smaller provinces and Gilgit Baltistan have voiced numerous reservations, including with regard to issues of CPEC’s impact and discriminatory application in various federating units of the country: these merit urgent consideration. HRCP also demands an immediate and thorough environment impact assessment of the CPEC project. The impact on the people being dislocated and the economic benefits to the local people should also be assessed. “In Balochistan, development of the Gwadar port has deprived thousands of fishermen of their livelihood and shelter. In the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the security forces are reported to have taken over private property of the locals with impunity.”

Reports of the use of excessive force in some villages are harrowing, where no house has been left standing and the population has had to escape the onslaught. HRCP has serious reservations over the manner of holding elections on reserved seats for minorities and women. The present scheme of representation is unfair to those selected and the electorate that they theoretically represent.”

“HRCP condemns growing overt and covert restrictions and attacks on the news media and hopes and expects that media organisations and journalists would protect their professional integrity and independence, and resist all attempts aimed at manipulating the media,” it added.

“In the name of student unions, violent right-wing elements have been unleashed on the educational institutions, where they have been allowed monopoly while others are not given freedom of association. The student unions must be revived and violence in campuses curbed.”