During the military rule of General Zia ul Haq, an alliance of Karachi based NGOs known as ‘Alliance against Discriminatory Laws (ADL)’ was formed to oppose the blasphemy law that was introduced during Zia ul Haq’s time. Later on, this alliance took the form of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) for People’s Rights which has now become the sole platform for Karachi’s civil society to raise its voice on matters of public concern. PILER also acted as its Secretariat some two years back when the JAC supported the affectees of Sanghar’s Variyaraam faqir case, DHA- fishermen’s expulsion case and Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum over Rerhi Goth takeover by Army. JAC also organizes activities and events on all major occasions.
Article 25-A of the Constitution of Pakistan binds the state to ensure provision of free and compulsory education to all children between the age of 5 and 16 years. The passage of the 18th Amendment has termed it as a right. To ensure its implementation, PILER filed a constitutional petition in the Sindh High Court in December 2011. The petition was also signed by eight other civil society organizations. In May 2012, The High Court passed orders for the formation of a commission to ensure provision of free and compulsory education. Accordingly, a Commission was formed with Chief Secretary Sindh as the Chairman. The Committee has been mandated to evaluate, examine and implement a detailed programme to ensure free and compulsory education for all children between the age of 5 and 16 years. It will also evaluate the requirements of the educational department for implementation of the programme.
As part of its effort to protect democracy and promote a democratic culture in the country, PILER and a number of other NGOs/ CSOs, labour rights organizations, academics, journalists and others issued a joint statement on the so-called ‘Memogate scandal’ plotted by anti-democracy forces. The statement requested all power blocs of the state of Pakistan to remain in their domain and to respect the decision of the voters.
Citizens For Democracy (CFD) was formed in 2010 as a coalition of professional groups, NGOs, trade unions, student unions, political parties and individuals. It works on a one-point agenda of containing misuse and abuse of the blasphemy law and religion in politics.
After eight months of consultation and dialogue during August 2010 and February 2011 facilitated by PILER and attended by public officials and the CSOs that played an active role in relief and rehabilitation of flood affectees, a document called ‘Citizens Charter for Sustainable Rehabilitation of Flood Affectees’ was prepared. This document assembles concerns raised in different forums and shapes a 9-point charter of demands that need to be addressed in order to improve disaster management in Pakistan.
PILER’s research on land ownership shows that less than one per cent of the landlords own more than 100 acres of agricultural lands while more than 46 per cent have ownership of 1 t o 5 acres of land. The minority with the monopoly on landholdings sits in the parliament and resists any movement towards land reforms. The recent floods further deteriorated the situation and the same study revealed that 63 per cent of IDPs are landless. Thus PILER strongly advocates the need for the redistribution of land for the good of the rural population through research work and advocacy campaigns.
The constitution of Pakistan guarantees a worker’s right to social security and binds the state to the responsibility of providing this right. Further to this, the eighteenth amendment which became an act in 2010 demands of the state provision of free education to all. Sadly, the state has failed in fulfilling these constitutional demands. PILER works to spread awareness of these constitutional rights and collaborates with public entities towards the strengthening of social security institutions.
An initiative of PILER, this commission is comprised of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) which took an active part during the relief and rehabilitation period following the 2010 and 2011 floods in Sindh. The commission opines that the massive destruction was due to the behaviour of politically influential people of the province, and after an intense consultation session, the commission drafted a document to defend its point of view. It also demands the state to work on the identified measures to prevent natural and manmade disasters in future.