Remembering Asma Jahangir: People’s economic rights must not be compromised, IA Rehman

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ISLAMABAD (ENNS) Delivering first-ever  Asma Jahangir Memorial Lecture, organised by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Honorary Spokesperson I. A. Rehman warmly recalled HRCP’s co-founder, remembering her as the ‘voice of sanity and compassion’.

Remembering Ms Jahangir’s empathy with the vulnerable and disadvantaged, Mr Rehman spoke about people’s fundamental right to ‘economic justice’. Citing examples ranging from bonded labourers and small farmers to lady health workers and journalists, he said that people’s economic rights – the ‘right to employment, and just and equitable conditions of work’ – should not be subject to the ‘availability of resources’.

While the Constitution protected people’s social and economic wellbeing, said Mr Rehman, it was critical to secure the ‘substance’ of these rights, their ‘availability to all citizens’ and their ‘incremental expansion’. The Prime Minister, he added, had recently said that nothing was more important than providing succour to the poor: economic justice must not, therefore, be sacrificed at the altar of national security, said Mr Rehman. He reminded the audience that ‘all citizens of Pakistan’ had the right to economic justice, and that Asma Jahangir would not have stood quietly by in such a situation. It falls to all of us, he said, to band together and demand that these rights – and all other fundamental rights – be protected and promoted.

HRCP Secretary-General Harris Khalique announced that the Commission was instituting the Asma Jahangir Award for Human Rights Defenders, and resuming the Nisar Osmani Award for Courage in Journalism and the I. A. Rehman Research Grant in Human Rights.

The lecture, which was followed by a question-and-answer session, was heavily attended, with HRCP members, civil society activists, lawyers, journalists and political workers among the audience.

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