KARACHI: A multi-stakeholder consultative forum on Wednesday urged the government of Pakistan to ensure the right to fair trial and bring to an end all sorts of discrimination to meet the compliance requirements of international commitments. They also emphasised the need to understand the challenges being faced by Pakistan and asked the international community for continued cooperation to help Pakistan to improve human and labour rights situation in Pakistan. The consultation on Human Rights Treaties and Core Labour Rights, organised by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) was held at a local hotel to review the performance of Pakistan for forthcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by United Nations Human Rights Council on November 13, 2017 and second review report on Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP)-Plus facility. Government employees, human and labour rights activists and civil society attended the consultation and gave their views on the rights situation in Pakistan. Anis Haroon, member of the National Commission for Human Rights, PILER Executive Director Karamat Ali, Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP) President Majyd Aziz, Sindh government Human Rights Department Secretary Dr Tanveer Ahmed Qureshi, Sindh government Department of Labour and Human Resources Joint Director Gulfam Memon, Aurat Foundation Resident Director Mahnaz Rahman, senior human rights expert Iqbal Detho and Convener of Sindh Labour Solidarity Committee Habibuddin Junaidi spoke on the rights situation in Pakistan. Speaking on the occasion, Anis Haroon underlined the need for increasing coordination among government departments. She said: “Our priorities are wrong and our attitude towards the state institutions like the NCHR is not supportive.” Regarding UPR review, she said this time the international community would give tough time to the government as the human rights situation had not improved in Pakistan. “Wherever GSP Plus compliance report is due the government shows enthusiasm because in that economic interests are involved.” Regarding workers rights, Anis said that no measure had been taken for protection of domestic workers. “Many cases of violence against domestic workers girls have been reported in the media in recent months. In case of Fatima, who was killed in Karachi, the first medical report said it was a suicide and the court also refused to accept the second medical report by four doctors, which indicated that it was not a suicide. Legal aid money is kept for domestic workers, but that money is not spent.” PILER Executive Director Karamat Ali said that labour laws were not implemented anywhere in Pakistan. He said every worker has had a right of social security. “Today only 1.6 million workers are registered with social security institutions in Pakistan out of 61 million labourers. “The Indian Trade Union Act 1926, made by Mohammad Ali Jinnah was more progressive than the ILO Conventions 87, but the government of Pakistan abolished it in 1950,” he said. Ali said Pakistan’s economy was in shambles and this would not improve until workers were not given their rights. Human Rights Department Secretary Dr Tanveer Ahmed Qureshi said that after 2012 UPR Pakistan had implemented almost all (99 percent) the recommendations given by the UN member countries. Regarding implementation of 27 conventions under GSP Plus scheme he said situation had improved. In Pakistan, he said, untrained labour inspectors were being appointed politically. “The EFP has offered the provincial government that it will train labour inspector of the entire province. There is no transparency and accountability in the current inspection system,” he said, adding: “We will initiate an international diploma on industrial relations.” Joint Director of Department of Labour and Human Resources, Government of Sindh Gulfam Memon said that after 18th amendment provinces got an opportunity to make their own laws. “We have made some changes in all these laws; penalties have been revised and rationalised and an anti-discrimination clause has been made in the laws. In his address, Iqbal Detho said international conventions require domestic implementation in order to create enforceable rights and liabilities. Mahnaz Rahman, resident director of the Aurat Foundation, underlined the need for a new social contract so that vulnerable sections of the society, including women, minorities and disabled persons could be protected. “Profit based economies do not respect human rights in the neo-liberal era,” she opined. Sindh Labour Solidarity Committee Convener Habibuddin Junaidi said in many areas like export processing zones and special industrial zones unions were banned and many workers were working under third-party contract system. “Workers work like slaves. In banking sector unions do not exist anymore. Teachers in both government and private schools and health workers were not allowed to form unions; even they were not receiving minimum wages. Published in Daily Times, November 2nd 2017.