KARACHI: The ministry of human rights, government of Pakistan, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, conducted a two-day consultation workshop focused on ‘Developing a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights in Pakistan’ at a local hotel.

Representatives from relevant government departments, business enterprises and civil society organisations as well as labour unions attended the event, according to a statement issued here.

The process of development of a national action plan on business and human rights was shared with the participants.

A panel discussion comprising PILER joint director Zulfiqar Shah, Institute of Business Administration lecturer Abira Ashfaq, and former director of labour department of Sindh Gulfam Nabi Memon was held.

The workshop provided a platform to stakeholders to share their recommendations and identify priority areas to be incorporated into the national action plan.

The ministry in the statement issued here stated that it was interested in seeking input from each province and key stakeholders who attended the consultation event. The exercise will help provide recommendations specific to Sindh.

Last month, the ministry conducted a consultation meeting in Quetta to seek recommendations specific to Balochistan.

Malik Kamran Azam Khan Rajar, joint secretary of the ministry of human rights, said that the ministry had opted for the development of the national action plan to be an inclusive and transparent process and the inclusion of relevant stakeholders from the government departments, civil society organisations and business enterprises was essential to draft a national plan, which can be effectively implemented across the country.

Mr Rajar added that the ministry initiated the Business and Human Rights project in late 2018 and since then, it had conducted consultations in Lahore, Sialkot, Faisalabad, Peshawar and Gilgit.

He noted that holding tripartite consultation meetings with business enterprises, labour unions and government departments across the nation was essential for a successful and inclusive national action plan as each has a unique area of focus.

He highlighted the need for an extensive consultative process, which would achieve necessary acknowledgement by international stakeholders especially the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

Kaiser Ishaque, assistant representative, UNDP, emphasised that as economies were recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, such a consultation gave everyone an opportunity to build better business practices.

He further stated that human rights was an aspect which cut across all Sustainable Development Goals and as Pakistan was one of the first countries to commit to the SDGs, this consultation was relevant for achieving such a purpose as well.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2020

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