Much has been said and written for and against the Cairo Barack Obama speech but there is one quote with which none can disagree "...I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere." America itself may have fallen by the wayside when it comes to human rights during the presidency of George Bush with incidents and matters relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. That is undeniable, but from all signs it seems that President Obama intends to make amends and we must take him at his word. How does the Republic of Pakistan stand when it comes to human rights? Lamentably, many say with conviction. A goodly number of the laws in place, upheld by the courts and the law enforcers, are in direct contradiction to the cause of human rights, glaringly so in the case of the Hudood Ordinances and the blasphemy laws which successive governments, since the black days of President General Zia ul Haq when they were imposed upon those unfortunate enough to be subjected to them, have been too lily-livered and scared of the reaction of the religious right to either amend or do away with. Now that this present government has been pushed into taking on the forces of the Taliban in the areas which they subdued and controlled, perhaps if and when they do get the upper hand, they will be emboldened to deal with the laws of the land that make a mockery of this country in the rest of the world. The latest report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan published in the press on June 4 and available on the HRCP website paints a terrible picture of the human rights situation in the camps set up for the displaced persons who have fled either the might of the army action or the lesser numbered Taliban. The conditions in the camps are deplorably inadequate with the federal government totally clueless as to how to deal with anything, and paralytic when it comes to forward-looking strategy. Reportedly, the provincial government has of late shown signs of life, but not enough. In the main it has been the foreign agencies, which have been active and have actually delivered - though nowhere near enough as funds are not exactly pouring in. The commitment and the will of the federal government, as with all other governments, even that of the mighty military commander Pervez Musharraf, is suspect. Had it not been for the orders emanating from Washington DC, the government and army may have still been dithering about the advancing Taliban - they are hardly hordes since apparently and according to army sources they number but a few thousand. There has been a veritable flood of Pakistan-related news of late, since the arrival of the Taliban in a big way on our national scene, and what is related or commented upon by the foreign media is often quite revealing. According to a June 8 item in The Hindu, estimates made by expert military analysts have it that our army has committed to the battlefields in the NWFP between 70,000 to 80,000 troops - an impressive number to deal with the scarcer fighting Taliban. The strategy is said to be strikingly similar to that of the United States in Afghanistan - massive force used to evict the Taliban and then allowing them to take back territory just won. As we know, the army formations have had little success in capturing or killing key Taliban leaders, and this has gone some way towards raising in certain minds the disturbing prospect that the military establishment continues to see at least some of them as potential strategic partners. This impression needs to be dissipated - and swiftly. And then comes the question: what serious attempt has been made to dismantle the jihadist infrastructures outside the NWFP? The Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad offices in southern Punjab apparently remain open, and last month a charitable front known as the Falah-i-Insaniyat is said to have started fund raising operations for the Lashkar. Thus, fears are born that Pakistan is pursuing the Taliban, purportedly to rid the country of the scourge, but continuing on dilly-dallying with the jihadist factors elsewhere. And the signals sent out by the freeing of Jamaatud Dawa chieftain Hafiz Saeed by the newly independent Lahore High Court on June 2 do nothing towards dispelling the doubts that exist.