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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has infor­med the Working Group of UN Human Rights Council that its policy of improving and promoting human rights of all its citizens with strengthened democracy, independent judiciary, free media and active civil society will continue.

In its report, Pakistan told a meeting of the group held in Geneva recently that in the pursuit of promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, it continues to face challenges such as terrorism, resource constraints, capacity building, awareness raising, effective enforcement of laws and policies, protection of vulnerable groups and natural disasters due to climate change.

Pakistan says its Ministry of Human Rights has formulated a draft national policy framework for promotion and protection of human rights after completing the consultative process at federal and provincial levels. The draft has been circulated among the ministries for final consultation before submission to the federal cabinet for its approval. Formulation of provincial strategies on human rights is also in process in collaboration with provincial governments.

Working Group undertakes periodic review of human rights situation in Pakistan

The report says that in order to further consolidate the progress made during recent years as well as to overcome challenges, Pakistan will take bold measures both in policy and legal reform and, where necessary, by undertaking effective enforcement of its existing legislation and policy on human rights over the next four years.

According to the report, a draft national policy on ending violence against women and girls has been prepared by the Ministry of Human Rights, which outlines prevention, response, protection and rehabilitation mechanism for gender-based violence. It also establishes coordination and cooperation mechanisms among the relevant agencies with respect to the cases of gender-based violence.

The ministry conducted research study which would lead to designing ‘Men Engage Model’ for the elimination of gender-based violence.

Political commitment

It says that as a democratic and progressive state, Pakistan is firmly resolved to uphold, promote and safeguard universal human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. This is manifested in the high-level political commitment, and policies and programmes of the government on human rights, and Pakistan’s longstanding and continued desire and readiness to work with the international community to strengthen multilateral cooperation and mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights.

The Working Group undertook periodic review of human rights situation in Pakistan.

The Pakistani delegation was led by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif at the meeting. Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq, Barrister Zafarullah Khan, special assistant to the prime minister on law, and other senior officials assisted the minister.

UN member countries made 289 recommendations during the periodic review of report submitted by Pakistan on the human rights situation in the country.

The recommendations made by 111 delegations are contained in a report which the Working Group has drafted based on the interactive dialogue covering a wide range of human rights issues.

Pakistan will study the recommendations and then report back to the Human Rights Council in March next year, an official of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said.

The Working Group report obtained by Dawn from Geneva made it clear that all conclusions and recommendations contained in the report reflect the positions of the submitting states under review. They should not be construed as endorsed by the Working Group as a whole.

The group’s meeting ended on Friday.

According to the draft report, a list of questions prepared in advance by Belgium, Brazil, Estonia, Germany, Liechtenstein, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US were transmitted to Pakistan through the working group troika — Egypt, Iraq and Latvia.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2017