Protecting fundamental freedoms is vital for maintaining a fair and equitable society

 Protecting fundamental freedoms is vital for maintaining a fair and equitable society.

Rameez Bhat

The core importance of human freedom is greatly enhanced by the practical effectiveness of specific freedoms in promoting others. This is because the connections between different types of freedoms are based on evidence of cause and effect, rather than being inherent or compositional. For example, economic and political freedoms tend to support each other rather than clash. Likewise, social opportunities such as education and healthcare complement individual opportunities for economic and political participation, fostering people’s ability to overcome their respective challenges.

The Urdu saying “Khali Paet to ibadat bee Nahi Hoti” succinctly captures this idea, emphasising that essential human activities like ensuring basic sustenance cannot be subordinated to political goals. Hunger doesn’t wait for political outcomes, and patients can’t delay healthcare until certain political objectives are achieved. Human activities must continue alongside political processes; halting essential activities for political reasons goes against common sense and falsely pits one freedom against another.

Any movement for political freedom must recognize and support all other freedoms and liberties people already possess. While occasional strategic maneuvers may be permissible for tactical reasons, undermining the support base of the general public is counterproductive. Freedom, as understood by the masses, entails the removal of constraints on existing freedoms, with movements striving to eliminate “unfreedoms” such as poverty and tyranny.

A brief analysis of the situation in Kashmir reveals that both sides have encroached upon the basic freedoms of the common people. Governments are culpable for tyranny and repression, while opposing forces have restricted people’s mobility, economic opportunities, and access to healthcare and education. Unfortunately, political discourse often disguises self-interest as popular demand, furthering agendas at the expense of elementary freedoms for many.

Both sides must recognize that the lack of substantive freedoms directly contributes to economic poverty, denying people the freedom to satisfy basic needs, seek medical treatment, or access education. Similarly, violations of freedom stem from the denial of political and civil liberties through authoritarian measures and restrictions on participation in society’s life.

In light of these considerations, political leaders—both the establishment and opposition—must prioritize restoring elementary freedoms to the people. Only then can they expect to garner support for broader political objectives, which they often promise but fail to deliver amidst ongoing conflicts.

In conclusion, safeguarding fundamental freedoms is not only a moral imperative but also a pragmatic necessity for building and sustaining a fair and equitable society. These freedoms underpin democratic governance, human rights, individual dignity, social cohesion, and economic prosperity.