UK Foreign Office reiterates concern for human rights in Pakistan
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has reaffirmed its concern over the persecution of Christians in Pakistan. In a letter to CLAAS, the FCO said it was vital that Pakistan guarantee the rights of all citizens, regardless of their faith or ethnicity. It pointed to Pakistan’s obligations under the numerous international agreements it is signed up to, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of religious belief.
The European Union has identified freedom of religion and belief as a human rights priority in Pakistan and raised concern about the potential for misuse of the blasphemy law against minority faiths. The FCO confirmed in its letter that the minister responsible for South Asia, Alistair Burt, had raised the issue of religious persecution and the blasphemy law in a meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hinna Rubani Khar during her visit to London. It further stated that the British government would continue to engage with Pakistani authorities on the issue of religious freedom.
Nasir Saeed said: “We welcome the efforts of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in encouraging Pakistan to improve its human rights record. However, we remain deeply concerned about the lack of change in Pakistan. In fact, the human rights record there appears to have worsened in the last year. The British government and its European partners must increase pressure on Pakistan to reform the blasphemy law and uphold human rights.”
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