In 2016, the murderer of Kiran Bibi was acquitted by the courts of Pakistan on the basis that he was the father of the deceased and pardoned himself being the only legal heir. Her father killed Kiran Bibi in the name of honour along with her alleged lover in 2014. The judge said that this pardon had made the conviction ‘groundless’ hence leaving no chance of conviction. Interestingly, the ‘Anti-Honour Killing Laws’ (Criminal Amendment Bill) 2015, stipulates that there will be strict punishment for the accused even if the family member of the victim has pardoned him. But this law cannot be applied ‘retrospectively’, thus setting hundreds of accused free, who murdered merely in the name of honour before the enactment of this bill.According to the Human Rights Watch, more than 1,000 honour killings are reported every year in Pakistan despite the fact that honour killing was made a criminal offence. The laws are yet not enforced adequately due to which the number of killings is increasing expeditiously. Moreover, according to an Amnesty International’s article, judges are given the discretion to decide whether the crime was ‘honour-based’ or not, which gives accused leverage of claiming any other motive, hence successfully getting a pardon from the victim’s family under ‘Qisas’ and ‘Diyat’ laws. Resultantly, the only recourse available to the victims can be found internationally since Pakistan is a signatory of several international treaties, the most important being the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and specifically through First Optional Protocol (Protocol) to the Covenant. Affirming to ‘achieve the purposes of the Covenant and ensuring the implementation of its provisions, the Protocol empowers the Human Rights Committee (HRC) to receive and consider communication(s) from individual(s) claiming to be victims of violations of any of the rights set forth in the Covenant’. Unfortunately, this forum of seeking justice is not accessible since Pakistan has not ratified the Protocol, which makes HRC a quasi-judicial body for the human right(s) violations, hence not recognising the competence of the Committee to consider communication(s).One of the major concerns of the state that needs to be addressed is that the ratification of First Optional Protocol in no means would lead to the interference of the Human Rights Committee within the state’s sovereignty since HRC is a quasi-judicial body whose decisions are not legally binding to the statePakistan’s responsibility to ratify the Protocol can be derived directly from the Covenant where Article 2 puts the obligation to the states ‘to take necessary steps like adopting legislation or other measures to give effect to the rights recognised in the Covenant’, hence guaranteeing the appropriate remedies to the victims. Non-governmental organisations and Civil Society’s role kicks in here for encouraging the state to ratify the Protocol so that the victims can be remedied efficiently in the absence of domestic remedies. These advocacy networks can help in raising the moral consciousness of the norms-violating states like Pakistan, hence pressurising them to ratify. Moreover, the ratification of the Protocol by Pakistan would leave a very effective and positive impression to the international world where Pakistan is already seen as a country notorious in terms of the crimes like rape, child abuse, honour killings, torture and discrimination against the minorities. This will give a strong message to the world that Pakistan is committed towards the preservation of the core human values necessary for the country to grow prosperously.Mostly, the victims are not provided with the effective remedy even in the presence of laws thus excluding them from seeking justice. Therefore, the ratification of the Protocol would play a vital role in signifying Pakistan’s commitment towards guaranteeing all the fundamental human rights like the right to life, right to fair trial and right to seek justice hence picturing Pakistan as an emerging pro-human rights country.One of the major concerns of the state that needs to be addressed is that the ratification in no means would lead to the interference of the HRC within the state’s sovereignty since HRC is a quasi-judicial body whose decisions are not ‘legally binding’ to the state. Why to even ratify it at first place then? Because with ratification comes a greater ‘legal certainty’ at the international level which if not binding would definitely set a precedent for domestic courts to look up to it for ensuring proper justice. Furthermore, Pakistan can also make ‘reservation(s)’ to the Protocol just like Trinidad and Tobago has made for the death penalty.Therefore, it is incumbent upon the state to ratify the Protocol, realising the competence of HRC; curbing the violation(s) of the human right(s) that have been guaranteed by the Covenant because otherwise signing to the Covenant itself is good for nothing.The writer is currently enrolled at LUMS and pursuing her degree in Law; Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgPublished in Daily Times, April 5th 2018.