Civil society is a group of individuals or organizations who work for the benefit of society. they are also known as the third sector of society. According to the World Bank: “Civil society … refers to a wide array of organizations: community groups, non-governmental organizations [NGOs], labour unions, indigenous groups, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, and foundations.”
Importance of Civil Society:
civil societies play a vital role in the development of good governance even they influence the government and hold it accountable. the 2nd most important role which civil societies are playing is to advocate the general public for their rights including health, environment and economic rights. however, this can only possible in the environment where freedom of speech is guaranteed.
Challenges for civil society in Pakistan:
unfortunately, in Pakistan, this sector faces many hurdles. It needs political maturity to provide the space for civil societies to work properly. In many areas, organization workers are hardly provided working environment. Working as a civil activist in Pakistan becoming more dangerous day by day. On 4 July 2012 Ms Farida Afridi shot dead by extremists just because she was doing activities for human rights in Khyber Agency region. The famous human right lawyer Asma Jahangir also reported the harassment from unknown sources.
“Pakistan’s civilian government has a responsibility to protect human rights defenders from attacks by both state and non-state actors,” says Netsanet Belay, Policy and Research Director at CIVICUS. “Repeated silencing of civil society voices is disastrous for the future of political life in the country.”
“With increasing extremism, the space for those who advance progressive, liberal ideas is becoming smaller and more restricted by the day in Pakistan,” said Qamar Naseem, Programme Coordinator at Blue Veins, co-chair of the End Violence against Women and Children Alliance (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA) and an active member of Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network (PCSN). “Instead of protecting civil society space, the state and dominant political groups are engaged in a campaign to label all forms of dissent as either ‘terrorist propaganda’ or an advancement of a ‘western imperial’ agenda.”
This must be stopped as soon as possible. we cannot deny the important role of civil societies in the country. Pakistani government should provide security and other facilities and provide them a fear-free environment so they can raise the voice for human rights.