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Pakistan: Ethnic Groups

Volume 494: debated on Wednesday 24 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the government of Pakistan on the treatment of minorities in that country. (281355)

The former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Gillian Merron), visited Pakistan in February 2009 and met the Pakistani Minister for Human Rights, Mumtaz Gilani and the Minister for Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti. During these meetings, she pressed for more action to protect the rights of minorities in Pakistan. My hon. Friend also called for a review of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which are frequently abused and lead to significant discrimination against minorities.

Bilaterally and with our EU partners we continue to call upon the Government of Pakistan to promote the concept of freedom of religion and belief and to initiate early reform of the discriminatory blasphemy legislation.

In the course of their duties, officials at our high commission in Islamabad regularly meet with members of the Government of Pakistan to discuss the human rights situation in Pakistan.