Federal Minister for Human Rights Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada held a meeting with the parliamentary delegation of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Freedom of Religion or Belief from the United Kingdom at the Ministry of Human Rights in Islamabad.
Minister welcomed the delegates and said that Pakistan has traditionally strong and strategically significant and long-lasting relations with the UK.
In response to a question posed by one of the delegates on the steps taken by the state for the protection of minorities, the minister said that there was a strong constitutional and structural framework present in the country for the freedom and protection of the rights of minorities.
He quoted articles 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 33, and 36 of Pakistan’s Constitution which provide guarantees to the minorities regarding freedom of religion, equal participation as well as the right to preserve and promote their cultural identity, value, and practices.
Whenever any international monitory or human rights organizations visit the country, an untoward incident happens, he said adding that these incidents are orchestrated by foreign spy agencies of hostile neighbors for fake propaganda and to defame Pakistan.
The minister condemned the incident of mob lynching a man accused of blasphemy in Nankana Sahib and termed it a tragic incident.
“No one should be allowed to take the law into their own hands. Blasphemy laws are framed for deterrence and punishment is rigorous in such offenses but the misuse of these laws can only be averted by taking strict actions under the law against the culprits,” he said, adding, the police had taken into custody many people involved in this heinous crime and they would certainly be punished by the courts after due course of action and proceedings.
Minster added that in Pakistan state institutions and forces are fully vigilant about any human rights violation. “We are victims of cross-border terrorism and vicious propaganda,” he said.
Delegates were further apprised that National Action Plan on Human Rights will introduce policy and legal reforms, particularly for women, children, minorities, etc.
In his concluding remarks, the minister reiterated his commitment to safeguarding and uplifting the minority rights in the country. He said that the international human rights watchdogs show their vigilance on every single tragic incident happening in Pakistan but easily overlook persecution of religious minorities and atrocities of Indian forces in IIOJ&K.