Pakistan taking HR issue head on, Gilani to tell EU
By Mariana Baabar
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will not shy away from issues of human rights inside Pakistan when he sits with the European Union at the Pak-EU Summit on April 21, in Brussels.
Traditionally, the issue of human rights in third world countries has been a high priority issue for the EU. “There is a situation inside Pakistan where people’s human rights are being negated and the government is well aware and seized with the situation. But we certainly do not deny this situation and the prime minister will tell his EU interlocutors that awarding the known human right activist Ms Asma Jeghangir the highest civil award on March 23, was itself an acknowledgement of this fact. Only days before receiving the award, she had released a strong report about the state of human rights in Pakistan through the HRCP,” an official involved with preparations for the summit told The News.
A small delegation from the European Union is presently in Islamabad where sub-committees are holding preparatory meetings “where a broad range of issues will be discussed — including governance, human rights, migration, trade and development cooperation under the Joint Commission.”
The Summit on 21 April will review progress on various issues identified jointly at the Summit in June 2009, including on the “dedicated dialogue” on trade. According to the EU office in Islamabad, the third round of the Sub-Group on Governance, Human Rights and Migration between Pakistan and the European Union took place in Islamabad on Wednesday.
“To-date, the European Union is engaged in dedicated human rights discussions with close to 40 countries around the world. This human rights dialogue with Pakistan takes place in the context of the Co-operation Agreement between the EU and Pakistan of 2004.
“The Pakistan delegation was headed by the Ministry of Finance and the EU delegation was headed by the European Commission,” says the statement.
The EU-Pakistan human rights dialogue was held in a collaborative and open atmosphere, with an exchange of views on a wide range of issues of mutual interest and concern. The agenda for the Sub-Group on Governance, Human Rights and Migration meeting provided for a review of the implementation of the EU-Pakistan Cooperation Agreement.
Discussions addressed the implementation of the recommendation of the 2008 EU Election Observation Mission, the EU’s project of assistance to parliament, capacity building in governance, the signature and ratification of international Human Rights instruments, the co-operation in the field of Human Rights, as well as the Readmission Agreement and Legal Migration.
This third round of the Sub-Group on Governance, Human Rights and Migration was preceded by meetings with civil society organisations in Brussels and EU member states and civil society organisations in Islamabad.
A Pakistani official said that in the area of human rights, Pakistan lacks capacity building where its prisons specially are in dire straits and more needs to be done on child labour as well.
“There are some cultural challenges like ‘karo kari’ which have beleaguered us for centuries and will take years to be wiped out. Bringing in the Woman Harassment Law is a step in the right direction”, adds the official.
Earlier, the spokesman at the Foreign Office, while commenting on Pakistan’s human rights situation, had said, “Pakistan has successfully completed transformation into a vibrant democracy. We have an active parliament, independent judiciary and a free and robust media which continuously take cognizance and scrutinise any complaints of human rights violations in the country. The democratically elected government is fully committed to protect and uphold fundamental rights of all its citizens. We are in the process of strengthening our national mechanisms for the protection and promotion of human rights of all our citizens.”
Source: The News