ISLAMABAD: A strong delegation, led by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar defended Pakistan’s human rights record at the fourth periodic review of the working group of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, responding to burning issues such as minorities’ rights, enforced disappearances, imposition of death penalty, freedom of expression, and blasphemy.
During the 42nd session of the working group that lasted over four hours, 122 countries made brief comments on the human rights situation in Pakistan, and commended the government’s efforts to further improve the human rights situation in the country. Pakistan’s report is expected to be adopted on Wednesday, an official of the Human Rights Council told Dawn.
The statement of the Indian delegate, where he claimed “drastic deterioration of human rights situation in Pakistan” was promptly answered by Pakistan’s Permanent Representative in Geneva, Ambassador Khalil Hashmi during his concluding remarks at the meeting, drawing the delegates’ attention towards the Indian government’s atrocities in India-held Jammu and Kashmir and terrorist activities in Pakistan.
He mentioned that a dossier in this respect has already been submitted to the United Nations.
Interior Secretary Ayub Chaudhry responded to delegates’ concern over cases of forced disappearances, stating that the government was diligently dealing with any alleged case of involuntarily or forced disappearance.
In this connection, he said, a bill had been submitted to the parliament for approval.
Country report expected to be adopted at UN HR moot tomorrow, says official
Responding to the points raised by delegates, Ms Khar spoke in detail about the rights of minorities, their role in the society and the women issues.
She said as an active member of the Human Rights Council, Pakistan believes in constructive engagement and cooperation with the UN Human Rights machinery. Pakistan regularly reports to the relevant treaty bodies about the implementation status of the international human rights conventions to which it is a state party.
“Pakistan has remained steadfast in promoting respect for human rights at home and abroad. Human rights lay deep in the foundations of our nationhood. Our contributions to international human rights norms and institution building is also inspired by these ideals.
From drafting the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Convention on Racial Discrimination to establishing the Human Rights Council, Pakistan has remained and will continue to be a leading voice of the vulnerable and the oppressed.
“As an ardent supporter of multilateralism, Pakistan has consistently advocated dialogue, consensus, cooperation, and mutual respect as preferred vehicles to advance the global human rights agenda. We have always endeavored to build bridges across diverse perspectives and varied interests. As a member of the Human Rights Council and the OIC Coordinator for Human Rights in Geneva, we have played a vital role in forging political consensus on several human rights issues and situations of common concern. We will continue to do so in advancing shared human rights causes,” she said.
She said Pakistan also had extended invitations for country visits to four Special Procedures on Foreign Debt, Extreme Poverty, Education, and Disabilities. “We have also endeavored to respond regularly to the communications sent by the UN-independent human rights experts,” Ms Khar said.
Secretary for Religious Affairs and Religious Harmony Ataur Rehman explained the measures adopted by Pakistan to tackle blasphemy cases, stating the government was mindful of its responsibility to stop misuse of the blasphemy law.
Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2023
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