US urges Pakistan to repeal blasphemy laws

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GENEVA: The United States has urged Pakistan to repeal the blasphemy laws and also take steps, including enacting a legislation to penalise human trafficking.

Jesse Bernstein, representing US at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) held in Geneva the other day, asked Pakistan to rescind blasphemy laws and grant the visit request of the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

He also called for passing an anti-trafficking law “that prohibits and penalises all forms of human trafficking”.

Meanwhile, he commended Pakistan for passing the Hindu Marriage Act, which, for the first time, allows members of the Hindu community to register their marriages.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif is representing Pakistan at the UPR.

The foreign minister outlined the wide range of legislative, institutional, administrative and policy measures to advance and safeguard human rights in Pakistan. While highlighting the substantial progress made, he reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to promoting human rights in the spirit of constructive dialogue, engagement and cooperation.

It is pertinent to mention here that the UPR recommendations are not binding, while it is important to take these recommendations, being part of the exercise.

India, represented by Sumit Seth, urged to dismantle special terrorist zones, safe havens and sanctuaries and take verifiable actions, including on “terror financing”.

Pakistan said that India is trying to sabotage the UPR platform with propaganda.