The Ministry of Human Rights website deserves a special tribute for it commits to “creating a society free of human rights suffering and deprivation”, something very close to our heart.

On the aesthetics side, the website designer seems to have attempted to enjoy some liberty with the consistent green/white theme typical for Pakistani Government websites and ended up with a pale, jaundiced green for not only the website but also the Pakistani flag making it look rather desecrated.

After reading the ministry’s vision, mission, organogram and the Minister’s and Secretary’s personal messages, we took a sigh of relief believing that the state of human rights was in competent hands. When we reached the Joint Secretary’s page, we found it under construction, but that was OK.

It was comforting to see that only the ‘about us’ page had a list of links to direct contacts of important officials in the ministry reflecting easy accessibility which, of course, is very important considering the sensitive nature of this organization. While some of the links worked, most resulted in pages which were ‘under construction’. Some major construction for an important website that has been online for quite a while. The ‘contact us’ pages which were under construction included the following: The Minister, Secretary, Director General – DTE of Human Rights – Islamabad and Deputy Secretary. Six more links after the Deputy General’s directed one to his ‘under construction’ page. Perhaps it would be better to remove these useless links altogether to avoid the sheer disappointment they create.

We quickly moved on hoping to find some of the quality content that the website appeared to promise: ‘Presentations‘ on human rights -page under construction; ‘Reports‘ on human rights – page under construction; ‘Research Articles‘ – page under construction, ‘Useful Links‘ – page under construction. By now, the word consistency had formed a whole new concept in our head. However, losing hope is not out forte, and we continued.

While B4A had somewhat concluded that the Ministry’s website was not one of their success stories, we were very anxious to learn about the organization’s tales of success from different parts of Pakistan. Luckily, the website had an entire section dedicated to that.

Now, struggling with a neglected website is one thing, and dealing with wrong, insensitive facts is another. In case of this Ministry’s website, Pakistan’s largest provincial landmass of Balochistan was wrongly named ‘Baluchistan’, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, ‘N.W.F.P.’! Neither of the two lapses are acceptable to the people of Pakistan, especially to the people of the two provinces! Coping with this lapse, it seems insignificant to further mention that all six of these links led to pages which were under construction.

To check the interactivity of the website, we sifted through the ‘Write to Us’ section, where the first link, ‘Comments and Suggestions‘ led us to another page under construction. Two more pages that actually worked had built in application forms, namely ‘Local Applicants’, and ‘Forign Applicants’ (which we assumed was ‘Foreign’, wrongly spelt).

Since we felt that we were not getting anywhere with this survey, we might as well register ourselves as volunteers, or apply as professional ICT consultants, or even try to get employed at the Ministry to help out instead of just being vocal. Surprise – the website, again, threw a series of under construction pages at us, leaving us utterly helpless.

Overall, this website turned out to be a disaster, representing the state of human rights in Pakistan rather accurately. Again, a note to the Ministry: your website is the representation of how seriously you take your responsibility. Gone are the days when websites were merely fancy symbols. Official websites in the 21st century are extensions of brick-and-mortar offices that reach out to help the masses in a cost effective and efficient manner and must not be ignored.