ISLAMABAD: Less than a month after Pakistan lost a seat in the top United Nations human rights body, the PML-N government has restored the ministry of human rights which it had merged with the ministry of law and justice after coming to power in 2013.
The major tasks for the ‘reactivated’ ministry of human rights include representation of Pakistan in international organisations and conferences, pursuing issues and addressing complaints at local and international forums and taking initiatives to harmonise legislation, regulations and practices with international human rights covenants and agreements to which Pakistan is a party, according to a notification issued here on Monday.
Also read: Defeat in UN body prompts introspection
Last month Pakistan lost a re-election to retain a seat in the UN Human Rights Council. On Oct 28, The UN General Assembly elected 18 members of the 47-member council through a secret ballot.
The government’s top legal aide, Barrister Zafarullah Khan, who is the prime minister’s special assistant, has been given the charge of the ministry.
Another notification issued in this regard says: “The prime minister has been pleased to re-designate... Barrister Zafarullah Khan... as special assistant to the prime minister for human rights division with the status of minister of state.”
Barrister Khan, a law graduate of Lincoln’s Inn, resigned from civil service in 2002. Since then he worked as a legal and human rights consultant on women, children and labour issues with various UN organisations, international and national NGOs.
The ministry of human rights has witnessed many ups and downs over the past two decades. It was converted into a wing and merged with the ministry of law and justice and parliamentary affairs in 1996. In 2007, it was again upgraded as human rights division, which again attained the status of a ministry in 2008.
After devolution, some subjects of the erstwhile ministry of women development were transferred to the ministry of human rights on July 1, 2011.
Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2015