Whatever socio-economic ‘rights’ the Prime Minister (PM) pledged to deliver in his maiden address to the nation are essential but not enough. Practically inseparable, the whole range of civil and political rights — including minority rights — out rightly failed to capture his consideration. Intending to attend the seventy third United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Session in September, he is also obliged to make Pakistan’s human rights policy statement there. Since January 2018, Pakistan also sits in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Now, with a pro-active woman like Shireen Mazari, holding a significant portfolio of the Minister of Human Rights (MoHR) and apparently a rights-conscious premier, the country’s outstanding international human rights commitments and obligations ask for their share of fulfilment. Besides improving policy and legislative framework, there is a dire need to realise our 2016 National Action Plan for Human Rights (NAPHR) and strengthening national human rights Institutions to investigate, redress, recommend and adequately report to the covenant — specific treaty bodies. Apart from lack of will, a serious lack of institutional knowledge, capacity and skills to comply by international human rights directives and prescriptions prevails. Along with legislative development, where there is a need for, universal periodic reviews and expert committees on ‘economic-social and cultural rights’ and ‘civil-political rights advised Pakistan last year (2017) to particularly improve its corresponding institutional capabilities. Inter alia, EU-Pakistan Multi-annual Indicative Programme (2014-2020) already contributes in implementing Pakistan’s vision 2025 with a key focus on human rights, good governance and rule of law. Upon Pakistan’s request back in 2016, EU also agreed to assist it, technically and financially, to enhance its human rights record and performance. This plan is almost in the offing. The time is right to cease the moment and build upon the following: More often than not, Pakistan’s treaty body reports are strikingly similar, mainly stressing on legislative processes and institutional development — not performance Comprising on six themes, 16 outcomes and 60 action-points, the NAPHR needs to be warmed-up for intensified implementation by the provincial and federal governments. Enabling and empowering National Commission of Human Rights (NCHR), National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) and the provincial and national Treaty Implementation Cells (TICs) and provincial Human Rights Departments and Directorates can pave the way for effective treaty implementation. With the assistance of some civil society organisations, the departments have already developed their provincial human rights strategies. Responsible for policy research, human rights education and capacity development, a National Institute for Human Rights (NHRI) needs to be formed as early as possible. Prescribed by Paris Principles, NCHR’s principal mandate is to independently investigate and engage with the UN’s charter and treaty bodies. Withdrawing the March 1917 notification, NCHR needs to be freed from legislative and executive control of the MoHR. Employing technically trained and sensitised human resource and financial solvency, the Commission be awarded with powers to investigate rights’ violations of any kind by any quarters — official or unofficial ones. Its efforts in producing certain investigative reports in the recent past need appreciation and its right to contribute and even produce independent treaty reports must be acknowledged. The Commission’s provincial chapters need to go operational and its’ individual complaint handling mechanism should be encouraged. Relatively resourceful National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) will be far more efficient if operational and financial obstacles are removed. Like Punjab and KP, PCSWs must be installed in Sindh and Balochistan as well. To save children from abuse and exploitation, a National Commission on Child Rights needs to be established. It’s the same situation with the National Commission on Minorities. Along with the poor coordination between TIC’s line ministries and relevant departments, their data collection, analysis and report writing skills are also poor. It is imperative to evolve the said competencies, if Pakistan intends to sustain its GSP+ trade preferences with EU member states. Potentially, they can prove a useful forum for intra-provincial human rights assessment and policy debates to redress failures. Submitted delayed, more often than not, Pakistan’s treaty body reports are strikingly similar, mainly stressing on legislative processes and institutional development — not performance. Technically, treaty body reporting remains a federal concern but adequate performance and evidence-based factual reporting is impossible without fair coordination between federal and provincial TICs. In the absence of systematic data collection, human rights monitoring mechanisms remain chronically inadequate. Whatever data available is always collected and periodically outlaid by women’s rights, children’s rights, minority rights, labour rights and civil rights NGOs, all depending on news reports with their own limitations. Based on MIS, the MoHR should systematically collect data to identify patterns and trends to take informed policy and legal actions. Only the comparative and disaggregated annual statistics by gender, age, faith, region, ethnicity and disability, can help assessing the country’s progressive realisation of its civil-political and economic-social and cultural rights of which the present government seems so keen on — mainly to prove its progress on the latter. The effort can also feed into realistic GSP+ and treaty body reporting obligations and build Pakistan’s international image, invoking tremendous trade and economic benefits. All this is not possible without coordination and commitment by the federal MoHRs and the provincial Ministries of Law and Justice along with respective human rights directorates and departments, law enforcement agencies and lower judiciary. Last but not least, despite adopting a number of progressive laws, strategies and action plans, implementation still remains a grave concern. Certain rights enshrined in the International Covenants and ratified by Pakistan are not legislated domestically; hence they remain inapplicable. The narrow definition of disability, broadening the notion of reasonable accommodation, revising minimum age for marriage, modernising the law of evidence, making forensic data reliable, restoring the moratorium on death penalty, putting an end to forced-conversions, forced-marriages, eliminating forced disappearances, defending human-rights defenders, curbing down hate-speech and hate-crimes particularly against non-Muslim minorities and their places of worship, purging the text of faith-based biases, toughening legislation and penalties against unfounded blasphemy accusers are few of the several acts of legislation cum enforcement being looked forward to in Naya Pakistan. The writer is based in Islamabad. He is Executive Director at the Institute of Development Research and Corresponding Capabilities (IDRAC) Published in Daily Times, September 4th 2018.