Skip to main content

Punjab: Religious Freedom

Volume 497: debated on Monday 12 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the status of religious minorities in the Punjab province of Pakistan. (292311)

The UK continues to view the difficult situation facing religious minorities in the Punjab and indeed all of Pakistan as a cause for concern. The latest attacks on the Christian community in Gojra and ongoing persecution of the Ahmadiyya community are examples of the dangers faced by religious minorities, and serve as reminders of the need to protect the religious freedom of all Pakistanis.

Alongside our EU partners, the UK continues to encourage the Government of Pakistan to repeal or amend the blasphemy laws to reduce the widespread misuse of this legislation to discriminate against minority groups. In December 2008, the EU called upon the Government of Pakistan to promote tolerance, to effectively protect freedom of belief and freedom of expression and to reform discriminatory legislation such as the blasphemy laws. In August 2009, the EU also raised the attacks on Christians in Gojra with the Pakistan Foreign Minister.

We continue to encourage Pakistan to fulfil its commitments under the UN Human Rights Council. During the last Universal Periodic Review in May 2008, we secured a commitment from the Government of Pakistan that checks would be introduced to regulate investigations into allegations of blasphemy that affect minority groups.