Pakistan supports promotion, application of human rights: Khar


Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Tuesday said Pakistan strongly supported the promotion and application of universally recognised human rights.
In her opening statement at the 14th Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, the foreign minister said Pakistan’s resolve and commitment to combating terrorism remained unwavering. However, she termed the drone attacks counter-productive, unlawful, against international law, and violation of sovereignty.
Khar said Pakistan as the chair of the OIC Group on Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva had played a constructive role in building convergences between West and Islamic world on the most contentious and challenging issues in the Human Rights Council.
She said Pakistan welcomed the engagement with the international community through an open and constructive dialogue on its human rights record in line with the provisions identified in the Institution Building Package. She thanked the “troika” comprising Chile, China and Congo, for facilitating Pakistan’s review.
The foreign minister said following restoration of democracy in 2008, Pakistan had taken a number of steps to restore the democratic nature of state institutions.
“Today Pakistan is a functional democracy with an elected and sovereign parliament, an independent judiciary, a free media and a vibrant and robust civil society,” she added. Khar said the reporting period (2008 to 2012) had been one of the most challenging in recent years for Pakistan. Pakistan continued to face enormous challenges on different fronts, ranging from security and terrorism to the economy, apart from natural calamities.
“Despite these serious challenges, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights,” she said. The foreign minister said during the last four years, there had been transformational changes in the legislative framework. She mentioned passing of three constitutional amendments requiring two-thirds majority as part of an overarching compact between the country’s major political parties to engender long-term democratic values in the country, after the trauma of repeated military interventions.
She said in April 2010, parliament unanimously passed the 18th Amendment to the constitution, addressing the many imbalances of power that had entered the legislative framework at the behest of military governments. She said among the key features of the 18th Amendment was its strengthening of human rights guaranteed under the constitution. “The right to education (Article 25A), right to information (Article 19A) and right to fair trial (Article 10A) are now recognised as fundamental rights, which cannot be suspended,” she said.
Khar said consistent with its longstanding commitment to promoting and protecting human rights, Pakistan ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Convention Against Torture (CAT) in June 2010. She said in August 2011, Pakistan ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Option Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
She said Pakistan had now ratified seven of nine core international human rights treaties. Joining these international human rights instruments demonstrated Pakistan’s commitment to international human rights standards, she said, adding, “We are now focused on implementing these instruments at the national level. An inter-ministerial process has been set up to coordinate implementation and to prepare reports for the treaty bodies.” She said Pakistan attached high importance to constructive engagement and dialogue with Human Rights Council Special Procedures and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Pakistan recognised the valuable contributions of the special procedures in the promotion and protection of universally agreed human rights.
“In the spirit of dialogue, we extended invitation to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and a number of special procedures of the Human Rights Council to visit Pakistan,” she said.
Khar mentioned the courage of Malala Yousafzai, who was targeted for raising voice for literacy for girls. She said, “InshaAllah, our future is what Malala represents: courageous, resilient, and full of an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.”
“In rejecting the dark vision of the terrorists, we are simultaneously embracing the bright future that Malala represents for 180 million people of Pakistan,” she said.
The foreign minister said Pakistan was mindful that the promotion and protection of human rights was a continuous process that must be reinforced by strengthening democratic institutions with the support of the civil society and the media.