U.N. member states criticize Pakistan’s Human Rights record

On Monday over two dozen countries criticized Pakistan’s human rights record at the universal periodic review (UPR) of UN Human Rights Council. The criticism came not only from developed countries like the U.S. and U.K but also from developing countries like Ethiopia and Namibia.

Majority of the countries made recommendations on the status of women, minority rights, and religious freedom.

The United States in its recommendations urged Pakistan to abolish blasphemy laws and protect freedom of opinion and expression. The U.S. recommended that Pakistan:

Repeal Blasphemy laws and restrictions and end their use against Ahmadi Muslims and others and grant the visit request of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

Pass an anti-trafficking law that prohibits and penalizes all forms of human trafficking.

Undertake, track and report the investigation and prosecution of security forces who commit human rights violations and abuses.

The U.S. also expressed concern over treatment of Ahmadis:

We note with concern the enforcement of blasphemy laws, and restrictions against Ahmadi Muslims, and the use of blasphemy and other laws to intimidate political opponents and settle personal disputes.

The United Kingdom also made similar recommendations and voiced their concerns about Pakistan’s treatment of Christians and Ahmadis:

We remain deeply concerned about Pakistan’s overall human rights record. This includes limits on freedoms of expression and religion or belief, particularly for the Christian and Ahmadiyya Muslim communities, as well as the increased misuse of terror legislation to portray religious publications of minority communities as hate material.

India urged Pakistan to double its efforts against terrorism and provide full rights to religious minorities. India recommended that Pakistan:

stop sectarian violence, systematic persecution and attacks on Muslim minorities , such as Shias, Ahmadiyyas, Ismailis, and Hazaras

The South American country of Argentina also critiqued Pakistan’s Human Rights record and urged Pakistan to:

Investigate reports of discrimination and those who commit crimes against ethnic and religious minorities such as Hazaras, Dalits, Christians, Hindus and Ahmadis be brought to justice.

New Zealand, Netherlands, and France also made recommendations.

The Pakistan delegation was led by Pakistan’s foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif who became the center of a controversy after he was pictured with a member of the minority Ahmadi community. Asif later apologized in a TV interview and claimed he did not know of the person’s faith and claimed that since the incident, he always asks people whether they are Qadiani [Ahmadi] before taking pictures with them. The Ahmadis have been declared non-Muslim under Pakistani law and are considered apostates by the majority of mainstream Muslims.

The criticism was part of the third universal periodic review of Pakistan. Under the UPR mechanism, the human rights situation of all UN Member States is reviewed every 5 years. Pakistan’s first UPR was held in 2008, while the second was held in 2012.

Ehsan is the founder & editor of Rabwah Times. He is currently baesd in Washington D.C. from where he covers Human Rights & Religious Freedom issues.
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