How often do we hear about individuals, groups, organizations, political & religious parties etc. protesting or raising a fuss about their rights? Quite often, don’t we? These claims range from completely legitimate to entirely ridiculous. One thing seems to be certain that most of the Pakistanis don’t know what their rights really are but most importantly, almost no one speaks about our responsibilities as a Pakistani citizen when there is a discussion about rights.
“The Athenians had an oath for someone who was about to become a citizen. They had to swear that ‘I shall leave the city not less but more beautiful than I found it.’” Richard Rogers
There are several responsibilities of a citizen; here, we will focus on the most important ones
In almost all elections, people give votes by coercion, based on ethnicity, religion and sometimes by just following the piper because he was playing a fresh tune. Although our politicians are the main culprits behind our problems, still the people are also guilty because they are the ones who put the politicians in office with their votes. The people need to stop blindly supporting the corrupt politicians and their outfits and must start bringing out some decent candidates to run the government. As long as the politicians are not held accountable by the people through voting, Pakistan will continue to be ruled by incompetent, corrupt and shameless governments.
Obeying the Laws:
We like laws as long as we don’t have to follow them; we raise a fuss day and night about how this country has gone to dogs and there is no rule of law. But when you look around, average Pakistanis are breaking laws all the time, be it running a traffic light, offering bribes to officials or robbing their customers blind. There can be no civilized society without laws so it is one of the prime duties of citizens.
Some other responsibilities include:
- Defend the country when the need arises.
- Be a responsible member of the society by acting with integrity in all matters, care for and work towards personal well-being as well as that of the fellow citizens’.
- Be aware about what’s going on around us and participate in the matters that pertain to collective affairs and general good.
- Respect the beliefs, opinions and rights of other citizens.
The majority of the citizens of Pakistan don’t know their constitutional rights very well and are often led to believe in frivolous slogans (by opportunists) to be their rights. These are the constitutional rights of the citizens of Pakistan.
- Any law that is inconsistent with the fundamental rights shall be made void.
- The life and liberty of every person shall be preserved except where required by law to be otherwise.
- Safeguards against arrest and detention by the security agencies.
- Every person is entitled to a fair trial and due process.
- Slavery in any form, bonded labor and child labor are prohibited.
- Protection against retrospective punishment.
- No person shall be tried or punished for the same offence twice and is protected against self incrimination.
- Dignity of man and privacy of home can’t be violated.
- Freedom of movement throughout the country.
- Freedom to assemble peacefully without arms unless prohibited by law as when section 144 is imposed.
- Freedom to form association or unions.
- Freedom to enter into a lawful occupation or to lawfully conduct business.
- Citizens have the right to access information regarding public matters.
- Freedom to profess religion and to manage religious institutions.
- No person will be made to pay any special taxes on propagation of his religion.
- Safeguard against receiving religious education in an educational institution for a religion other than one’s own religion.
- Every citizen has the right to acquire, hold and dispose property by lawful means.
- No expropriation of property except where required by the law
- Equal protection of the law for all citizens
- No discrimination in access to public places.
- No discrimination in appointment to government service except where permitted by the law such as regional quotas.
- Preservation and promotion of language(s), script(s) and culture distinct to a group of citizens or to a specific area of the country.
This is the gist of the rights given to Pakistani citizens by the constitution. Please review the relevant section of the constitution of Pakistan for details of these rights.