The policy guidelines recently introduced by the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) on the protection of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) envision a country where everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national level. These guidelines would go a long way to push forward the agenda of human rights in Pakistan. These appreciating views were expressed by the participants of a consultation, jointly organised by Women in Struggle for Empowerment (WISE), BLUE VEINS, National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) and Pakistan Human Rights Defenders Network (PHRDN), in Lahore on Wednesday. Members of civil society, human rights organisations and government representatives from ministry of human rights, IG operations, Prosecution Department and Labour Department participated in the event. Bushra Khaliq, Executive Director WISE speaking on this occasion, appreciated the national policy guidelines. She said that NCHR pledges to assist where needed in any manner possible, all Human Rights Defenders individually and in groups in carrying out their core functions which includes dissemination of information on human rights, investigating and documenting human rights violations, providing support to victims of human rights violations and taking appropriate legal actions against human rights perpetrators. She further added that Human Rights Defenders take a central place in the area of Human Rights. In Pakistan, violations of human rights are ubiquitous and rampant. The Human Rights Defenders are playing a courageous role in promoting and protecting human rights at all risks, therefore government needs to take concrete actions for the safety and wellbeing of Human Rights Defenders. Tanveer Jehan, national coordinator PHRDN said that government should grant political and legal recognition (in the constitution or common laws) to the diverse and important work carried out by HRDs to protect the most vulnerable populations, to achieve more equal societies, and to strengthen democracy and the rule of law. It is important to promote collaboration between Government, CSO and other stakeholders to improve relations and enhance the pursuit and attainment of individual and collective national development goals, she added. NHRC Punjab Chapter Deputy Director Zunaira Nazar said that her department was glad to share the content of policy guidelines for the protection of human rights defenders, which is formulated after the thorough consultation and inclusion of all stakeholders. She appreciated the hard work and support of Pakistan Human Rights Defenders Network (PHRDN) for facilitating the consultative process. However, we strongly appreciate the efforts by BLUE VEINS and WISE for the ownership of the policy on Defenders. Humaira Sheikh from Shirkat Gha said that these guidelines provide a tool for Pakistani human rights defenders advocating for stronger legal recognition and protection of their important work and to provide both government and defenders with a tool against which to measure and assess the coverage and effectiveness of existing laws and policies. Iftikhar Mubarik, child rights activist, said the guidelines would help in creating an enabling legal, institutional and democratic environment for civil society organisations to operate and contribute effectively to national development. He suggested to NCHR to share these guidelines with the government functionaries and district administrations as well.