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Pakistan: Crimes of Violence

Volume 496: debated on Monday 20 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will hold discussions with his Pakistani counterpart on the attack on Christians in Bahmani Wala on 30 June 2009; and if he will make a statement. (287085)

We are concerned about reports that members of the Christian community in Bahmani Wala, Pakistan have been attacked. The UK supports freedom of religion and condemns persecution because of faith or beliefs. Incidents such as the attack in Bahmani Wala are an example of the sectarian violence and violent extremism that feed the discrimination faced by religious minorities.

With our EU partners, we regularly raise our concerns with the Government of Pakistan over the situation of religious minorities in Pakistan and we will continue to do so. The most recent EU demarche in December 2008 called upon the Government of Pakistan to promote tolerance, and take measures to protect freedom of religion or belief. This demarche also called for the reform of discriminatory legislation and urged the Minister for Minority Affairs to raise awareness about abuses against minorities and to increase their political representation at all levels.

Bilaterally, both in London and through our High Commission, officials regularly raise the treatment of minorities with their Pakistani interlocutors and will continue to do so. My hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Gillian Merron), the former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, met Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's Minister for Minority Affairs, during her visit to Pakistan in February 2009. She raised concerns about the difficulties faced by religious minorities in Pakistan, and the misuse of blasphemy legislation.