Pakistan will continue to be a leading voice for vulnerable, oppressed: Hina

GENEVA        -      Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar on Monday said that with the country’s human rights progress on an upward trajectory, Pakistan will continue to be a leading voice of the vulnerable and the oppressed. “From drafting the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Convention on Racial Discrimination to establishing the Human Rights Council, Pakistan has remained and will continue to be a leading voice of the vulnerable and the oppressed,” she stated here at the 4th Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Pakistan. The Human Rights Council through the Universal Periodic Review mechanism periodically reviews the human rights record of every UN member state.

The ultimate goal of UPR is to strengthen the realization and enjoyment of human rights in a country. Established in 2007, this peer-driven review mechanism provided a platform for dialogue and constructive engagement among states.

The minister of state highlighted the enactment of legislations to safeguard rights of women and children including Women’s Property Rights Act, 2020, Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Act 2020 and, Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Act 2021. She said that as an ardent supporter of multilateralism, Pakistan has consistently advocated dialogue, consensus, cooperation, and mutual respect as preferred vehicles to advance the global human rights agenda.

“Today, I am pleased to report that my country’s human rights progress is overall on an upward trajectory. We continue to aspire for a progressive and pluralistic society, which puts a high premium on respect for the human rights of everyone, in the words of our founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah and I quote “as equal citizens of one State”, she maintained.

The minister of state said that Pakistan’s 4th national UPR report was prepared through an inclusive, consultative process involving all national stakeholders. Critically, this report was an outcome of their extensive efforts during the last five years to implement the recommendations emanating from the country’s 2017 UPR, she added. The minister of state said that Pakistan was also proud of its vibrant civil society. “With our independent judiciary and legal community, civil society has played a vital role in public awareness-raising and advocacy about inclusivity, accountability, and transparency,” she mentioned.

Hina Rabbani Khar said that “While we are proud of our progress and achievements, we are mindful of the need to sustain the momentum and overcome the challenges. The Government has made utmost efforts to advance human rights through institutional, legal, and policy measures.”

Touching upon some of the critical areas of this progress that align with several recommendations emanating from Pakistan’s last UPR, the Minister of State said that in order to strengthen institutional support, the Government has enhanced the capacity of existing structures on human rights and established new ones. “The Ministry of Human Rights has upgraded its Regional Human Rights Directorates for effective coordination with provincial stakeholders. Complaint cells have been established at the Federal and Provincial Directorates under the Human Rights Ministry for redressal and referral of human rights complaints.”

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