Journalist, writer, poet and civil activist, Harris Khalique, who has recently been appointed as the Secretary-General of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), co-founded by renowned human rights activist Asma Jahangir, is in conversation with Pervaiz Alam.
“It took Zia’s regime 35 years to resurface in India,” Khalique says referring the current situation in India.
Harris Khalique discusses reported violations of human rights in Pakistan.
“In Pakistan, we do not have citizens but subjects. A Project Erasure of Memory has been in operation so that the people of Pakistan may not be able to remember what had happened in their past. Powerful institutions and the elite of the country are party to erasing the public memory,” says Harris Khalique.
Freedom of speech, curbs on journalists, deteriorating working conditions of mine labourers and factory workers, shabby treatment of women and minorities, military solutions for political issues such as Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement and Balochistan, Harris Khalique lists them all.
He observes “there’s a wave of right-wing populism in the world. Trump in the USA, Putin in Russia, Duterte in Philippines, Modi in India and Imran in Pakistan- Kis kis ko royngey (there’s too much to bear).”
“The governments do no like dissent. The dissent in a society takes a back seat when the state does not allow it,” Khalique adds.
Harris Khalique is an award winning poet and author in English and Urdu.
He recites his acclaimed Urdu poem on the massacre of Jallianwala Bagh.
Khalique holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a bachelor’s from N.E.D. University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi. He lives in Pakistan.
Harris Khalique has published nine collections of poetry and two books of nonfiction. He contributes to both Pakistan’s national press and international news media.
Khalique has worked in the areas of community development and human rights with Amnesty International, Aga Khan Foundation, SPO, DAI, Save the Children and UN agencies in senior management and advisory positions.
He also worked for the BBC Urdu Service in London as an outside contributor.
PS: The interview with Harris Khalique was recorded in London on 28 July, 2019.
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