Dr Mazari gets tough, snubs HRW over ‘selective monitoring’


–Minister says PTI govt does not need to be reminded of its agenda to ensure human rights in Pakistan


ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari on Tuesday issued a scathing response to the Human Rights Watch (HRW) which had recently written to Prime Minister Imran Khan, asking him to address “serious human rights challenges” in the country.

HRW Asia Director Brad Adams had written a letter to Khan asking him to ensure human rights are a “key focus” of the new government.  The letter was made public on Monday.

Adams asked PM Khan to focus on six crucial matters related to human rights.

“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 counter-terrorism abuses,” read the letter.

However, in response to the letter, Mazari said that “the prime minister and the government are committed to ensuring the human rights guaranteed to all Pakistani citizens under the Constitution.”

“We are well aware of the need to effectively enforce the laws regarding the enforcement of the human rights of all our citizens as well as the need to bring our national laws in alignment with our international legal commitments through the international treaties we have ratified. Our government is committed to ensuring the fulfillment of all our international obligations,” she added.

She emphasised that the new government does not need to be informed or reminded of the government’s agenda on the issue of human rights.

“I hope that would include the massive human rights violations being carried out as a matter of state policy by India in Indian Occupied Kashmir and by Israel in Palestine,” she said in reference to HRW’s claims on monitoring human rights violations in over 90 countries.

“I may have missed your monitoring reports on these, so would appreciate if you could refresh my memory,” she added.

Mazari said she hoped HRW monitors human rights violations “by some European states against their Muslim citizens in the form of curtailing their rights to practice their religion freely and in the form of abuse of Islam and its Prophet [Muhammad] (Peace be upon him), in direct contravention of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.”

She concluded by writing that “an NGO’s institutional credibility will rest on its commitment to ensure human rights across the globe and not just in selective states”.