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Pakistan: Politics and Government

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN 205200, tabled on 4 January 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of democratic process, constitutional freedoms and religious liberty in Pakistan.

Answered on

14 January 2019

In 2018, Pakistan’s elections led to an unprecedented second successive transfer of power from one full-term civilian government to another. Following the 2013 elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan took steps to improve electoral processes and enable Pakistan’s population to exercise their democratic right to vote. HMG supports institutions in Pakistan which underpin the democratic process, including work to strengthen the rule of law.

The freedom to hold and express views without censorship, intimidation or unnecessary restriction is a cornerstone of democracy. We are also concerned by restrictions on freedom of expression, and on freedom of religion and belief in Pakistan. We are concerned about constraints on the operating space for civil society and international NGOs in Pakistan. We regularly raise our concerns about rights and freedoms with the Government of Pakistan at a senior level. When she spoke to Prime Minister Imran Khan in August 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May noted the importance of Pakistan delivering on its commitments to strengthen institutions responsible for upholding the rule of law, and to advance the rights of women and minorities. In September 2018, my colleague Lord Ahmad raised the importance of safeguarding the rights of all Pakistan’s citizens with Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari. The British High Commission in Islamabad continues to raise our concerns about the registration process for international NGOs with the Government of Pakistan.