LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed grave alarm and dismay over the authorities ordering the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) to cancel a discussion on Balochistan. HRCP called it unfortunate that that had happened on a democratic government’s watch.
The Commission said in a statement issued on Friday: “It is extremely unfortunate and highly condemnable that the discussion on Balochistan scheduled for April 9, under the re-mapping justice series at LUMS, had to be cancelled on the orders of the government.
“Such orders might not have been unexpected under the many martial laws that Pakistan has suffered under, but it is a matter of grave concern that a private academic institution has been silenced in this manner when power is supposedly in the hands of a democratic government.
“The cancellation order raises many questions: why should our students not be able to discuss and listen to an exchange of views regarding the situation in Balochistan? Would the event have been allowed if it focused on another region of the country? Would it have been okay if Mama Qadeer, the rights activist from Balochitsan, was not among the speakers?
“Such clearly counterproductive decision-making forces one to wonder about the quality of advice followed by the decision-makers. One would have thought that any opportunity for our students to better understand the complications and the struggle for justice in Balochistan would be something that all quarters would welcome. That certainly has not been the case. Surely, allowing such an exchange in an academic setting must be infinitely more desirable than the violent alternative that has been playing out in parts of Balochistan.
“HRCP is of the considered opinion that such an exchange should be encouraged in academic environment that is expected to inculcate among young minds freedom of thought, speech and critical thinking. The inescapable conclusion is that those preventing the event from going ahead do not want young Pakistanis to have these attributes.
“HRCP understands and shares the outrage of the faculty and students and strongly protests over this decision. We demand that the reasons for cancelling the event must be made public forthwith. It must also be explained who in Pakistan decides which point of view should or should not be heard by the people. The most appropriate thing for the authorities to do in the circumstances would be to apologise for this uncalled for decision and assure LUMS that the government would not only welcome the holding of this event but would also facilitate it.” DNA