KARACHI - Speakers at a consultation on rule of law here on Thursday linked the electoral and economic reforms to effective rule of law in the country. They said reforms in every aspect of life are essential for implementation of the laws without discrimination at all levels.

They were speaking at the provincial consultative conference on “Rule of Law: Access to justice and citizen inclusion”, organised by Sindh Agriculture and Forestry Workers Coordinating Organization (SAFWCO) in collaboration with Oxfam GB, held at a local hotel.

Karamat Ali, Executive Director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and veteran trade union leader said the law makers and those responsible for implementation of the laws consider themselves as above the law. They often violate the law they have made, that is why the laws are formed but are not being implemented and citizens face hardships and we see increasing anarchy in the society.

Trade union formation is included in the fundamental rights under the Constitution, but unfortunately only one percent workers are registered with the trade unions, despite the fact the number of workers is in millions, associated with formal and informal sectors.

He recalled the past when 60 percent unionization was there in the government departments, including police officials and non-uniform employees of the Army. The purpose of unionization is to ensure the workers living a decent life.

Justice Ali Aslam Jaeffri of Sindh Judicial Academy and a legal practitioner and a teacher said the law makers should keep in mind the culture and thinking of the society while designing it. Otherwise, we can see many ordinances are made and failed because the people ignore it. People will accept the laws, which they consider addressing their issues.

The laws are made to regulate the society, making people realize their rights and responsibilities. “But we can see people even deprive their brothers of their due rights. Thus, it is up to law makers to make the legislation to address the common issues in society.”

Senior PPP leader and Sindh Minister for Women Development Shehla Reza said presently there is no difference between rich and poor people in terms of dealing with them by the courts and certain law providers. In many cases rich come in trap illegally and being put in lock ups.  

Javed Alam Odho, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Police Karachi South talked about the criminal justice system to provide justice to vulnerable segments of the society. The DIG proposed to introduce alternate dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism as an institution. It must be institutionalized to help resolve 80 percent issues, which usually come to police stations. 

The DIG said the role of police has been expanded largely and being engaged in different works like conducting elections, guarding public meetings, settling water distribution disputes etc. That is a problem in which police are being blamed not to perform.

Navin Merchant, a prominent lawyer, Dr Sono Khangharani, human rights activist from Thar Desert, Malik Tahir Iqbal of Legal Rights Forum, Asma Kiran of Oxfam GB; Sarwan Baloch, Chief Executive Officer of SAFWCO; Aijaz Ali Khonharo from Sindh Agriculture University Tandojam, Maliha Zia Advocate, Tameezuddin Khero Advocate and others spoke on the occasion.

Iqbal Detho, human rights activist and renowned trainer moderated the session. The event attracted police officials, lawyers, trade unionists, civil society, community and human rights activists, hailing from the city and other districts of the province.