To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what assessment he has made of whether the creation of the National Commission for Minorities in Pakistan has been set up in accordance with the Paris Principles; and what representations he has made to the Government of Pakistan on the need for those internationally recognised standards to be met.
22 September 2020
We welcome the establishment of the National Commission for Minorities. Most recently, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon raised our concerns about human rights, including Freedom of Religion or Belief and the National Commission for Minorities, with Pakistan's Human Rights Minister, Dr Shireen Mazari, in a call on 15 July and letter on 27 August. Our High Commissioner to Pakistan, Dr Christian Turner CMG, discussed the National Commission for Minorities with Dr Mazari in a meeting on 8 June. We have highlighted to the Government of Pakistan the importance of ensuring the new Commission is established in line with the UN Paris Principles as it begins its important work, specifically focusing on its independence, funding and membership.
In addition, we have consulted civil society organisations working on human rights and religious communities in Pakistan regarding Freedom of Religion or Belief and the National Commission for Minorities, and are also in close discussion with international partners. On 11 August, the British High Commission in Islamabad hosted a virtual roundtable with civil society members and religious community representatives on Freedom of Religion or Belief to mark National Minorities Day in Pakistan.