US Consul General Yuriy Fedkiw, along with Consulate Director for Human Rights Robert Simon, met Punjab Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Minister Khalil Tahir Sandhu.
Matters relating to mutual interest, promotion of Pak-US relations, and cooperation in different areas— particularly measures taken by the Punjab government to safeguard the minorities and human rights—came under discussion. The American consul general appreciated the measures taken by the Punjab government for the progress and prosperity of the province.
Fedkiw hoped that the development projects initiated in the province, particularly for the betterment of minorities and protection of human rights, will usher in a new era of development and progress in Pakistan. He also lauded the measures taken in the province to eliminate child labour and legislation regarding harassment against women.
On the occasion, the minister informed the US consul general regarding the initiatives of the Punjab government for protection of minorities and human rights, along with providing them government jobs in civil administration, police and judiciary through a five per cent mandatory quota being implemented strictly throughout the province.
He apprised the delegation regarding stipends amounting to Rs30 million distributed among the minority students annually, along with laptops and IT education coupled with legislation in their personal laws, and empowerment of women through skill development. Sandu appreciated the US consul general for the USAID programme, initiatives for the vulnerable segments of the society in the province and said that the American government has always supported Pakistan and Punjab for the promotion of educational, health, food and other related facilities of life.
“We hope to expand the scope of this mutual cooperation and working relationship in future,” he added. He said that Pakistan is making rapid progress under the present political leadership, and the human rights situation in the country had substantially improved, particularly relating to promotion and implementation of international human rights standards in the province. He said the government has promoted and ensured a culture of merit and transparency in development projects.
Sandhu said that setting up of a society based on moderation and tolerance was the government’s priority; sincere efforts were being made to transform Pakistan into a welfare state. “We are endeavouring for equal rights and opportunities for minorities in the country,” he added.
MPA Shehzad Munshi was also present in the meeting.