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Pakistan: Elections

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 20 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will hold discussions with the Government of Pakistan on the representation of religious minority groups in the selection of candidates for the forthcoming Pakistan parliamentary elections. (187245)

In our regular contact with the Government of Pakistan at ministerial and official level, bilaterally and through the EU, we have stressed the need for free and fair elections. The elections, which took place on 18 February, were an opportunity for the people of Pakistan to exercise their democratic voice and participate fully in the process of electing their new government. The EU observer mission will report preliminary conclusions on the conduct of the elections on 20 February.

We will want to work with the new Government to help build the institutional framework necessary for a sustained democratic transition and ensure that the fundamental rights of all Pakistani citizens, particularly the most vulnerable (women, minorities and children) are guaranteed, as laid down in the constitution of Pakistan and in accordance with international human rights standards.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials recently met with representatives from the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement, a non-governmental organisation working on behalf of Christians in Pakistan, as part of our ongoing engagement with stakeholder communities. Officials remain in regular contact with them on minority religious rights issues.