Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said on Monday that his government plans to introduce separate marriage and divorce bills for Christians and Hindus soon.
This would fulfil a longstanding demand of the minority communities and bring them at par with Muslim citizens of the state, Premier Ashraf told an event to mark International Human Rights Day.
He lauded the role played by minorities in the development of the country. He said the government has increased the number of seats for minorities in the Senate, besides fixing a quota for their representation in the civil services.
Referring to efforts to improve human rights conditions, Premier Ashraf said, “Pakistan’s role in protecting human rights has been recognised globally and Pakistan has been elected a member of the UN Human Rights Council for three years consecutively with a majority vote, which is recognition of our efforts.”
The prime minister said Pakistan has already ratified seven out of nine core human rights conventions. Four of these conventions and one optional protocol were ratified during the tenure of the present government, he added. He also mentioned the amendments made to the notorious Frontier Crimes Regulation in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Prime Minister Ashraf said it goes to the credit of the incumbent parliament that it passed the Protection Against Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010, Women in Distress and Detention Fund Act 2011, the National Commission on the Status of Women Act 2012, and the National Commission for Human Rights Act 2012.
UN’s Resident Coordinator Timo Pakkala commended Pakistan’s effort to ensure human rights in the country. He said the government and people of Pakistan should be proud of the legislation carried out to protect human rights.
Prime Minister’s Adviser on Human Rights Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said the government was carrying forward the agenda of ensuring human rights as a priority.
Later, the prime minister gave away awards for significant contribution to human rights. The awardees included late Syed Iqbal Haider, Kainat and Shazia who were injured in the Malala Yousafzai attack, Justice (retd) Majida Rizvi, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa ministers for Social Welfare and Information respectively, Sitara Ayaz and Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Justice (retd) Mehta Kailash Nath Kohli, political activist Rukhsana Ahmad, human rights activist Dr Tahira Kamal, journalist Narjis Zaidi and educationist Rasheed Javed.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2012.