To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the extent of freedom of (1) religion, and (2) belief, in Pakistan; and what is their strategy for supporting those freedoms in that country.
9 July 2021
The UK is committed to defending freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) for all, and promoting respect between different religious and non-religious communities around the globe. Pakistan is one of the FCDO's human rights priority countries and protecting FoRB is an integral part of our engagement on human rights in Pakistan. The UK Government strongly condemns the persecution of all minorities, including the targeting of innocent people based on their beliefs.
We continue to urge the Government of Pakistan at senior levels to guarantee the fundamental rights of all its citizens, regardless of their religion or belief. Most recently on 23 and 24 June during a visit to Pakistan, I raised these important issues with Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan and other senior government ministers, including Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and Pakistan's Human Rights Minister, Shireen Mazari. During these meetings, I highlighted the need to address persecution, promote respect for all religions and increase tolerance for religious minorities, including Ahmadiyya Muslims and Christians. Alongside my engagement with the Government of Pakistan, I met with minority communities to understand better their concerns, including a meeting with representatives of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, an interfaith roundtable and discussions with influential religious leaders.
In addition, the UK works within the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, and the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance to promote and protect FoRB around the globe. I underlined the UK's commitment to FoRB for all at a number of international meetings in November 2020, speaking at the intergovernmental Ministerial to Advance FoRB and the Ministers' Forum of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance. On 20 December 2020, the Prime Minister reaffirmed his personal commitment to the issue by appointing Fiona Bruce MP as his Special Envoy for FoRB. I set out the UK's commitment to defending FoRB and addressing FoRB violations in my response to a question in this house from Lord Singh of Wimbledon on 8 July.