ISLAMABAD: The government on Tuesday reacted strongly to Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, urging him to make human rights a priority of his government since Pakistan is facing multiple challenges on that front.
In response to the letter, written by HRW Asia Director Brad Adams to the premier on Monday, Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said that the government does not need to be reminded of its obligations from outside.
“We are well aware of our obligations and committed to ensure and protect the human rights of our citizens in pursuance to the constitution of Pakistan and international commitments; not by any external pressure.”
While hitting back at the HRW, Mazari asked the human rights watchdog to raise its voice against “massive human rights violations, carried out in Indian Occupied Kashmir, Palestine and in some European States against Muslims.”
The minister further said, “I hope that you would also raise your voice against a massive human rights violations, carried out in the Indian-occupied Kashmir, Palestine and in some European States against Muslims citizens.”
Human Rights Minister Mazari further told the HRW official that her ministry is already moving forward with a holistic action plan. We know the prevailing shortcomings in ensuring human rights of all our citizens and are working towards overcoming them.
She also urged the rights watchdog to take up the issue of the violation of human rights by some European states against their Muslim citizens in the form of curtailing their right to practice their religion freely and in the form of abuse of Islam and its Prophet (PBUH), in direct contravention of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
“Since HRW claims to monitor human rights across the world, I would like to be informed on how you are ensuring the rights of Muslim citizens to have their mosques and be able to dress and practice their religion freely and without ridicule in European states,” she added.
HRW Asia Director Adams, in yesterday’s letter, had urged the government to begin by reversing abusive laws and policies and demonstrating genuine commitment to the rule of law and equal justice. He also called upon the Pakistan government to take concrete steps to protect fundamental civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights in six key areas.
“These are freedom of expression and attacks on civil society; freedom of religion and belief; violence against women and girls; access to education; restoring moratorium on death penalty; and terrorism and counterterrorism abuses.
“[Prime Minister] Imran Khan has an important opportunity to create a rights-respecting government that abides by the rule of law and restores the public faith in democratic institutions. It is crucial for Pakistan’s development for the government to actively carry out human rights agenda,” the rights watchdog said.