If memory serves better, one and a half decade is passed. I was conducting my talk show in a very prestigious law college. Students of law were sitting and the hall was full. I asked a very simple question. “ is there anyone who can tell us what are the fundamental right for people of Pakistan under the Constitution?”. To my utter surprise and shock not a single hand was raised.
Whenever the political elite talks about the supremacy of the constitution , it talks about only the politician’s right to rule. What about the people by the way? Don’t they have any right? What kind of mystery it is that their rights have never been the part of our political narrative?
Whenever we talk about fundamental rights of Pakistanis first image that stirs in the subconscious is “health and education”. However it may sound strange to your eardrums that neither Health nor Education is the fundamental rights under the Constitution of Pakistan. Yes we all stand for the supremacy of the constitution but we feel pain that our legislators don’t feel any need to at least put these two areas as the fundamental right of the citizens.
As far as education is concerned, it has been mentioned in the Constitution as fundamental right but only up to 16 years. You are one day and 16 years and you are deprived of this right. Article 25 A of the Constitution talks about the rights of education but how: just have a read. It states: “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law.”
Please note it down; this is your fundamental right of all children of the age of five to sixteen years. This is limited and conditional right. Meaning thereby that once you grow one day old from the limit provided therein i.e. , 16 years , you will be automatically deprived of this right. It is also painful to understand that there is no right of health or medical treatment provided in the constitutional scheme of fundamental right. More than one hundred countries have mentioned this right as a fundamental right of their citizens in their constitution but in Pakistan we haven’t yet achieved this milestone.
Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides this right as under: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”