FO rejects UK criticism on rights
ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office sharply reacted on Thursday to Britain’s ‘Annual Human Rights and Democracy Report’ that marked Pakistan as a country of concern and rejected the criticism as unacceptable.
“Protecting the rights of Pakistanis is our responsibility and no-one can be more concerned about the rights of Pakistani citizens than Pakistani state itself. We, therefore, do not accept unjustified criticism from any quarter,” FO spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said at the weekly media briefing.
She was speaking shortly after the UK government released the report that said Pakistan remained “near the bottom on a number of crucial indicators, including the UN Human Development Index and there is an urgent need to address Pakistan’s wide ranging issues”.
The report said that there was a risk that human rights standards in Pakistan could deteriorate during 2014 and flagged a number of reasons for its concern, including an upsurge in militant attacks, lack of progress on setting up national human rights commission and non-implementation of recommendations agreed with the UN Human Rights Council for preventing violence against minorities.
The report also came down hard on the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance, noting that it was a cause of particular concern.
Without naming the United Kingdom, the spokesperson said those criticising Pakistan for its poor human rights record needed to put their own house in order before pointing fingers.
“All governments need to look at their own record. The Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch and other similar organisations issue regular reports about human rights situation in all countries,” she said.
Ms Aslam said human rights were universal and not just applicable to Pakistan.
The human rights spat between London and Islamabad has come ahead of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s trip next week to the United Kingdom.
The spokesperson did not give any dates for Mr Sharif’s visit, but diplomatic sources say he would be in London from April 26 to 28.