Right to life, religion, freedom of speech, fair trial, and justice; we endorse them, will deliver them and will emancipate nation from the burdens of human rights violation.’ Such statements are a part of red book of every political party in Pakistan and are chanted oft times wherever deemed appropriate. However, on practical grounds, human rights violation is brushed under the carpet, eluding the masses with a mirage of justice thus implying the Orwellian concept of ‘ignorance is strength’.

Pakistan is a signatory of International Covenant on Civil and Political rights (ICCPR) but has not yet signed and ratified the First Optional Protocol. Optional Protocol establishes a direct access, on individual level, to Human Rights Committee to lodge complaints about violations of human rights and the Obligations of States Parties as stated under the General Comment 33 of CCPR. If justice is to remain elusive as ever and judicial system keeps on stumbling and losing its focus it is not possible for Pakistan to ratify the Optional Protocol.

Terrorism has plagued this country for decades now. In order to please the international community and to portray soft image, Pakistan is on the front line in war against terror. Over the past few years many military operations have been launched to rectify mistakes of past and to root out terrorism for good. However, this war made us pay heavy toll. The country experienced large scale displacement from the terrorism afflicted areas. Although state institutions were trying to crush insurgencies but in doing so they have violated right to life of hundreds and thousands of individuals.

This situation was seen at its pinnacle in the Mall Road incident recently, where the loss of 13 lives was reduced to an inhuman debate of pinning down the blame on victims who happened to be protesting at the site. Government ministers kept shifting the responsibilities which portrayed an impression of non-seriousness of government pertaining to investigation of the incident. The insensitive response of provincial ministers by putting the blame of the attack on protestors is equivalent to turning the knife in a wound. After this fiasco one couldn’t help but ask this question, Is the state really fulfilling its duties to ensure a citizen’s right to life? However it would be difficult to answer affirmatively in wake of 60,000 lives lost over a decade. Analysing all this, there is an urgency to adopt a framework where an individual can claim the rights in case state shows negligence on its part.

Sustained democratic dispensation, political dialogue and civil–military equation in Pakistan have significantly declined terrorist activities. This has markedly improved security and law and order situation. However, security scenario is not conducive to sign Optional Protocol. Right now we are hovering amidst myriad crisis. Crisis, further, worsen human rights condition in a society. If, at this point, Pakistan has to conform to the Optional Protocol, socio-political and economic disparity will cripple the government and it will not be able to cope with the pressure from the international community.

We have seen families of drone victims sue American Government and raising their voices on multinational platforms. Keeping in account the argument relating to government’s functional limitations it is important to remind the state that although maintaining law and order is part of the job description it must not be at the cost of losing citizens lives. Governments round the globe usually follow the utilitarian conduct in these scenarios, claiming the greater good by sacrificing few and that’s the point where struggle for equality of rights takes a hit. States are responsible to protect the lives of its citizen as equally sacred, currently they don’t especially in repressive regimes and that’s why its high time to promote Optional Protocol so minimum humans can be euphemistically labelled as collateral damage.

Adaptation to the Optional Protocol is only possible when the security scenario of state party is conducive. Stability of the state will strengthen internal legal framework ultimately empowering us ratify external legal agreement. This stability will pave way for social consciousness which will serve as a driving force behind complying with the Optional Protocol. Otherwise it will only wreak havoc on already handicapped government. Conforming to the Optional Protocol is a goal and one step at a time, in the right direction, might be an accreditation.