December 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of International Human Rights Charter – a charter that has become, perhaps, the world’s most important political document; a document that has influenced scores of national constitutions, development plans and legislations. No binding but National Action Plans for Human Rights too are inspired by the United Nations’ guideline and encouragement to improve the state of human rights in its member States. Devised in early 2016, Pakistan’s National Action Plan for Human Rights inscribes a course of action to improve human rights record on ground.Comprising on 6 themes, 16 outcomes and 60 actions to be undertaken, the Plan sets out a policy, legislative and implementation framework for coordinated efforts between federal cum provincial ministries and departments. Almost three years down the road, a synopsis of successes and failures may help the new government to continue with renewed commitment and better understanding. Mandated to review existing legislation and ensure effective implementation of the Plan, national and provincial Task Forces are constituted and notified? National Policy Framework is up there but yet not approved by the cabinet. Provincial strategies and action plans are designed but not materialized. A positive step towards transparency and access to information, Open Government Partnership Plan was drafted by mid-October 2017 but yet not submitted to its International Secretariat.The minimum age of criminal responsibility has been increased from 7 to 10 by the corresponding Act (2016). ICT Child Protection Bill (2016) is also endorsed. PPC 1860’s Section 373-A is amended to deal with trafficking in children and for employment in hazardous occupations. Even then, thousands of children are engaged in hazardous labours like begging and prostitutionThe Criminal Law 2011 (Anti Women Practices) Bill was enacted in 2016. Women’s rights legislation, including anti-women practices, prevention of harassment and the Acid Control & Crime Prevention (2011) has been reinvigorated but enforcement remains weaker. Around 26 ‘Women Crisis Centers’ have been set up across the country. Ombudspersons to abate harassment are active but only in Sindh and Punjab. A Gender Crime Cell is operational at National Police Bureau. Guidelines to prevent GBV are developed and notified in Balochistan but need compliance. Offering free medico-legal and psycho-social services, shelter homes are serving in the province but only in major cities. In collaboration with Social Welfare and Baitulmal Department, PCSW (Punjab) has developed Transitional Homes for Women but lack failsafe arrangement. Abuses continue, at times, within the Centers too. Such Centers in Sindh, Balochistan and KP are short of staff and other amenities. To eliminate VAW, MoHRs ran ‘men engage model’ and ‘he who empowers her’ campaigns grabbing some success.National Commission on the Rights of the Child Bill (2017) is passed. However, the Commission awaits formation for want of finances. Amendment in marriageable age for girls from 16 to 18, in the Child Marriage Restraint Act (1929) is yet to be approved. Deplorably, the Senate’s Standing Committee on Interior declared it un-Islamic. To ensure speedy justice, the Punjab High Court has notified Child Protection Courts. The Punjab Prohibition of Child Labor Act (2016) criminalizes child labor in the brick-kiln industry. The KPK Prohibition of Children Employment Act (2015) and the same for Sindh (2017) bans child labour below 14. Trafficking and child prostitution are also proscribed by the corresponding laws. Sindh Assembly enacted the Street Children Shelter Homes Bill (2018). Save Balochistan, the Bonded Labour Abolition Act (1992) has been adopted by all the four provinces, however without significant success. Required rules of business are still not adopted. Suggestions extended by the Tripartite Consultations are, by and large, ignored. District Vigilance Committees prove ineffective.The minimum age of criminal responsibility has been increased from 7 to 10 by the corresponding Act (2016). ICT Child Protection Bill (2016) is also endorsed. PPC 1860’s Section 373-A is amended to deal with trafficking in children and for employment in hazardous occupations. Even then, thousands of children are engaged in hazardous labours, begging and prostitution. Those rescued are not appropriately rehabilitated. Federal and provincial legislation for children’s free and compulsory education (Article 25-A) is there for long but around 24 million children are out of schools and about 1.5 million keep-on street-connected.The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Act (2017) was a positive initiative to curb-down sectarianism and persecution of religious minorities. Barring forcefully marrying minor non-Muslim girls and prevention of hate material are part of it. Hate speech is still pervasive and in certain cases even increased. Quite likely to reduce abduction and forced marriages, the Hindu Marriage Act (2017) is, nevertheless, a landmark achievement. However, the Christian, Sikh and Parsi Marriage and Divorce Bills are still under discussion.Worth admiring, the Federal Government has allocated Rs.500 million for minorities’ development in the ADP (2018-2019) which includes scholarships and assistance to orphans, widows and PWDs. The GoPj allocated Rs.300 million while the GoS pledged 58 percent raise for 2017-2018 to serve the same purpose. May last year, the latter also launched ‘Benazir Scholarship’ for minority Students. Contrarily the GoKP drastically reduced its budget for Auqaf and Minority Affairs earlier allocated as part of ADP (2016-2017).On Senate’s Committee’s recommendation, prevention of the misuse of the blasphemy law is legislated. The Criminal Laws Act 2016, amended PPC (1860), the Police Act (1861) and CrPC (1898) along with Qanoon-i-Shahadat (1984) and Anti-Terrorism Act (1997). But there is a need for effective enforcement of PPC Sections (194 & 211) to eliminate the tendency.Commendably, the National Council for the Rights of PWDs has been constituted with a view to monitor the implementation of the CR-PWD and the respective Bill (2017) is also endorsed. The provincial Special Education Departments are functioning but their coverage remains limited. The GoPj has not only increased quota from 2 percent to 3 percent but also launched ‘Khidmat Card’ to provide them interest free loans and rehabilitation assistance. PIA and Railways offered them 50 percent discounted fare and 25 percent for their attendants.In response to GSP+ facility and with the support of UNDP, the GoP has formed TICs in all the 4 provinces along with the same in GB, AJK and ICT. Technically, the TICs are responsible to improve HRs situation by supervising the implementation of 9 Core Conventions (out of the 27) signed and ratified by Pakistan. Their meetings are less frequent with limited input in improving the future course of action. With multiple gaps and shortcomings, GoP does submits its ‘treaty body reports’ but averts ground realities by mainly highlighting its plans, commitments and legislative measures. Controversial issues, say the enigma of missing persons, blasphemy accusations, media constraints, women and child sexual abuse cum harassment, and shrinking spaces for civil society activism are clearly avoided.Keeping in view Pakistan’s international obligations and recommendations extended by Treaty Bodies and UPRs, the Plan needs improvement with specific targets and timeframe. It also needs to incorporate HRs responsibilities of industries and businesses as prescribed by the UN Guidelines. The MoHRs should make its annual and biannual progress public. Enormously promising ‘Disability, Gender and HRs MIS’ must share analyses and trends of improvements and/or shortfalls.The Provincial and Federal Task forces need coordination to ensure that all tiers of governance and affiliate departments complement each other’s work to certify success. Great that the newfangled MoHR promises speedy justice, legislation against enforced disappearances and other progressive stepladders. NGOs and media need to pitch in their interventions.The author heads the ‘Institute of Development Research & Corresponding Capabilities (IDRAC), IslamabadPublished in Daily Times, December 18th2018.