‘UN group on missing persons’ visit conforms to int’l rules’ | Pakistan Today

‘UN group on missing persons’ visit conforms to int’l rules’

Defending her invitation to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said on Friday that the mission’s recent visit to Pakistan was in conformity with international rules and was not mandated to conduct any investigation.
Responding to concerns raised in a Senate Standing Committee meeting on Foreign Affairs, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, she said, “We should not be apprehensive of the visit. We are a democratic country where judiciary is independent, the media is free and civil society is robust and all these features manifest that we protect human rights.”
Khar said the UN group had clarified in its initial report that its mandate was to act as a bridge between the families of missing persons and the government. “It was neither an investigative nor a fact finding mission,” she added.
She said the mission had praised the government’s commitment towards protection of human rights in its report. She added that Islamabad’s ratification of several protocols and UN conventions on human rights shows its commitment to protect the rights of women, children, minorities and other vulnerable segments of society. She said the UN working group had received an invitation from 91 countries and had visited many countries in order to engage with the governments to promote human rights.
“We have nothing to hide. We already have had a visit by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navanethem Pillay and added Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul also visited Pakistan,” she added. Khar said the elected government had taken the issue of disappearances very seriously and was making all-out efforts to strengthen the domestic mechanisms to address the humanitarian issue and ensure rule of law in the country. She also mentioned the legislation passed for the protection of women rights and the establishment of the National Commission for Human Rights.
Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani also defended the UN group’s visit, saying such visits improve the image of a country which ultimately promotes foreign trade. Regarding visa agreement between Pakistan and India, he said the pact would benefit senior citizens, group tourists and businessmen. The agreement has already been approved by the federal cabinet and would be presented again for ratification, he added. Officials of the Interior Ministry informed the meeting that the agreement would be sent to the Cabinet Division next week because it had been delayed due to printing process.
The meeting expressed displeasure over the slow pace of work on the agreement, and passed a resolution calling for early submission and action against those who were responsible for the delay. Farhatullah Babar said journalists should also be included in the list of beneficiaries of the visa agreement, adding that the step would improve people-to-people contact and promote bilateral ties between the two countries. The committee also endorsed a resolution, condemning the recent blasphemous film. “We endorse and commend the statement of President Asif Ali Zardari asking the international community not to become a silent observer on the acts of blasphemy as these destroy the peace of the world and endanger world security misusing freedom of expression,” the resolution said. The next meeting of the committee will be held on October 11. The meeting was chaired by Senator Muhammad Adeel and attended by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Malik Imad Khan, Senators Babar Khan Ghauri, Farhatullah Babar, Sehar Kamran, Muhammad Jehangir Badar, Mustafa Kamal, Sughra Imam, Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, the foreign secretary, and representatives of the ministries of interior and commerce.

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