ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari was elected unopposed as chairperson of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights on Tuesday.
Later talking to the media after an in-camera meeting of the committee Bilawal regretted the manner in which human rights violations were being committed in Indian Occupied Kashmir and noted that in India, “injustice is being carried out against the Muslim and Dalit communities”.
The PPP chairman said when he went abroad and raised his voice for Kashmiris, he was questioned about the status of human rights in Pakistan.
“Until Pakistan does not shift to a human rights-based society, democracy in the country will not be strengthened and there will not be social justice.”
He noted that party chairpersons do not usually take up committee chairmanships: however, his mother, the late Benazir Bhutto, had broken the precedent and became the chairman of the foreign relations committee, despite being in the opposition.
In response to a question regarding whether the missing persons issue would be raised by the committee, he said they would take up "every human rights issue" and noted that this was also an issue for Pakistan.
He said they will take input from all parties before announcing the committee's agenda.
He said the PPP has complete faith in the parliament and wants to strengthen the parliament and the committee system.
"Democracy cannot function without human rights. If we cannot guarantee human rights then we cannot guarantee any other thing; we cannot guarantee the freedom of expression, we cannot guarantee access to healthcare, we cannot guarantee access to education, we cannot guarantee the rule of law, we cannot guarantee justice," Bilawal stressed.
He believed that the "canvas of human rights is very expansive".
"The borders of human rights know no limits, they cross all party lines, they cross all borders, they cross all issues."
In a tweet, the son of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and ex-president Asif Ali Zardari thanked lawmakers from across the party lines who had "unanimously" elected him as the chairperson of the committee.