How an Online Petition Helps a Women’s Organisation in Pakistan
A Pakistan-based women’s organisation has been able to collect a large number of signatures at a phenomenal speed on an online petition that it launched to reintroduce a domestic violence bill. Hina Noureen, president of Baidarie Sialkot Pakistan, credits the success to a mobile-friendly platform and training she received from APC WNSP.
A petition can draw attention to a specific issue or cause, allowing the public to participate in the democratic process. While online petitions can be abused, they provide an important tool for activists and citizens to raise awareness of important issues.
For example, the petition against the Karachi coal power plant by Aniketa Ali called for its removal as it is expected to displace thousands of residents and contribute to environmental degradation in both water quality and air quality. It also demanded protection for mangroves which are an effective carbon sequester.
Hina Noureen, president of Baidarie Sialkot Pakistan, says that the campaign was successful because it reached a wide audience.
The main advantage of online petitions is that they are an effective tool to gather support for an issue. A single signature becomes a powerful symbol when combined with hundreds, thousands or even millions of others. It also demonstrates that people are willing to stand up for their principles and work together for change.
A petition that calls on the White House to tag Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism has received more than 100,000 signatures so far. It was started after Republican Congressmen Ted Poe and Dana Rohrabacher introduced legislation in the House of Representatives demanding the designation.
The petition cites several incidents of censorship by universities and the government and says that “academic freedom in our country is being compromised.” It also references recent attempts to censor student and faculty advocacy for free expression around the world, including an attempt to pressure Google to remove an open letter from faculty members about censorship on university campuses.
Online petitions are used to advocate for a range of issues and concerns. They can help people gather support and pressure governments to make changes. However, they can also be subject to abuse and misuse.
Recently, Pakistan’s government tried to use its restrictions on “hate speech” to pressure Google to censor a faculty petition about academic freedom. The petition documents repression on university campuses, including censorship of events and the dismissal of professors. The petition was eventually removed from Google Drive, but not before it had collected more than 26,000 signatures.
The new petition asks the White House to tag India a state sponsor of terrorism, alleging that it is waging a proxy war against Pakistan in Balochistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas. It also cites environmental degradation from India’s coal-powered electricity generation. The petition has already gathered nearly 66,000 signatures, but it still needs to hit 100,000 in order to receive a response from the White House.
The underlying problem of Pakistan’s draconian speech restrictions remains. The country’s lower and superior courts face extensive backlogs due to antiquated procedural rules, unfilled judgeships, and poor legal education. This delays justice for defendants, who often remain incarcerated until their cases are heard and adjudicated.
Attempts to silence faculty voices advocating for academic freedom must be countered. Pakistan’s government attempted to pressure Google to censor an open letter from faculty members who documented several serious allegations of repression, including the cancellation of academic events and the dismissal of professors.
The petition alleges violations of a wide variety of rights, including the Public Trust Doctrine as it pertains to Pakistan’s atmosphere and climate and of the right to free expression. It also challenges the country’s approval of a plan to develop coal fields in the Thar Desert, which is expected to increase greenhouse gas emissions and harm air quality and water supply. In addition, the petition seeks to support a bill that would provide for the enforcement of women’s property rights.