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Pakistan: Religious Freedom

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN HL1448, tabled on 14 July 2015

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what support they are providing to the authorities in Pakistan to ensure the protection of religious minorities across Pakistan; whether they plan to make representations to the government of Pakistan urging them to reform the blasphemy laws and to provide effective safeguards against their abuse; and whether they plan to call for the immediate and unconditional release of Asia Bibi, and take effective steps to guarantee her safety and that of her family.

Answered on

24 July 2015

We continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to fulfil the human rights obligations set out in the Constitution of Pakistan and international law, including those related to religious minorities.

In November 2014 the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), raised concerns about the application of blasphemy laws in Pakistan with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron), raised similar concerns with Prime Minister Sharif in December 2014. In June 2015, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth East (Mr Ellwood), conveyed to the High Commissioner for Pakistan our ongoing concern about the application of the blasphemy law in Pakistan. We will continue to follow closely developments related to freedom of belief and to engage the Pakistani authorities on this issue.

We remain deeply concerned about the case of Ms Asia Bibi. We continue to work through the EU to make clear to the Pakistani authorities and people the importance we attach to this case, and our concerns about the blasphemy laws in Pakistan more broadly.