Pakistan is a developing country with a very poor governance system always leading to corruption, injustice,and violations of Human Rights causing increased vulnerabilities of common people and exploitation of human right defenders. The main reason is that currently there isno properly established mechanism, which could provide alternative narrative for existence of rule of law, improved justice system, strengthen democratic norms and end corruption thereby resulting in lawlessness, hopelessness, extremism and terrorism. Very recently an international survey report placed Pakistan at top level in list of the countries with poorest rule of law and gender equality. With all these deficiencies there is no mechanism available to monitor, address and raise voice for the rights of public at large at national level.
A number of initiatives have been taken by the government and international organizations to highlight Human Rights by strengthening rule of law ensuring protection, justice and transparency but no significant outcome could be found due to the reason that the actions are monitored with project result oriented approach by setting very small goals for specific communities and not as outcome based sustainability which can regularly contribute to provide permanent remedies.
In fact there is no national publication, which could highlight the issues, monitor Human Rights violations at gross roots level, provide support to the national and international organizations and government and bridge the gap between service providers and duty bearers. Most of the organizations publish their material, which is circulated to the selected groups, but widely approaching the people at all levels could only be possible with a regular national level publication and monthly Al-Qanoon could be a forum for all the stakeholders throughout Pakistan.
Civil society along with the champions of human rights has been making concerted efforts to advocate for human rights and strengthen rule of law and transparency. However, so far the outcomes have not been tangible enough to come up as a success story. This means we need to change gears – a paradigm shift with target-oriented approach to ensure sustainability. A more defined and elaborated mechanism of monitoring the progress is critical to attain ends of access to justice and rule of law projects.
SHARP-Pakistan has been publishing monthly Al-Qanoon the first ever-legal magazine in Pakistan, which was rendering services for legal education, identification and protection of Human Rights violations and providing solutions for social and legal issues and strengthening the institutional capacities of relevant stakeholders and beneficiaries across Pakistan. During 2000 to 2009 Al-Qanoon was one of the best publications in Pakistan with a big network of all the bar associations in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir district judiciary police officials and government bodies, ministries, embassies prisons and probation departments, judicial and police academies and Law schools/colleges and universities and public at large which helped thousands of professionals in strengthening their capacities for raising awareness, initiate advocacy campaigns and promotion of legal education and Human Rights. Al-Qanoon team consisting of legal experts and human rights activists worked tirelessly to identify human rights and protection related issues and provide durable solutions. This publication was to accentuate rights-based issues in connection to normative and social dynamics, and independently monitoring the violations.Thereafter there is no unified attempt covering legal fraternity and other stakeholders across Pakistan on same page.
SHARP-Pakistan sincerely believes and envisions that there is dire need of revival of Al-Qanoon, that can provide a platform which at the same time embeds all legal, judicial administrative, political and civil society forums and will provide opportunity at gross roots level for identification of Human Rights violations and quick response at local level. It may provide national forum to all stakeholders from the legal and judicial fraternity, government bodies, national and international organizations for joint struggle for a better and human rights friendly Pakistan. It will provide advocacy efforts at the basic community level and taking it to policy level of advocacy to help in monitoring of justice system identify gaps, suggest improvements through voluntary involvement of different people from across Pakistan. The basic purpose of the monthly Al-Qanoon is to provide a forum for lawyers and other stakeholders to connect, educate and make them realise their responsibilities besides promoting human rights, legal education, highlighting the violations of human rights, injustices, and offences against women, children and minorities, prisoners and refugee rights etc. Al-Qanoon is an Urdu language magazine for the masses to easily read and understand the legal and human rights issues. The first issue of Al-Qanoon appeared in January 17 available on only Rs. 600 annually.
With a very small support this publication may contribute a lot to bring change in terms of rule of law, legal awareness, Advocacy, Human Rights education, promotion and protection, networking, gaps identifications, need assessments, required for legal reforms and many other initiatives, which could be for the public interest and common benefit.