ISLAMABAD: Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday urged the United States’ Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom Samuel Dale Brownback to take notice of egregious violations of human rights and religious freedom of minorities in India and the people in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).
In a meeting with the ambassador who called on him, the foreign minister drew his attention to the systematic persecution and suppression of fundamental rights, including religious freedom of the Kashmiri people at the hands of Indian forces.
Ambassador Brownback also met the foreign secretary earlier in the day, a Foreign Office (FO) statement said.
Welcoming Ambassador Brownback to his first visit to Pakistan since assuming office, the foreign minister said that Pakistan had always been a partner of international cooperation on the issues of religious freedom.
He said that the Constitution of Pakistan protects the rights of all minorities in Pakistan and added that Pakistan, as part to seven out of nine human rights treaties, was fully cognizant of its commitments to respect and protect minorities.
He said that Pakistan-led initiatives to combat religious intolerance and promote interfaith harmony had been endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
Expressing concern over Pakistan’s designation as Country of Particular Concern by the US State Department, the foreign minister highlighted that the designation did not appear to be in sync with the ground reality.
“Pakistan is a multi-religious and pluralistic society where people of diverse faiths and denominations live together. Pakistan has ensured constitutional and legal protection and freedom to all its citizens, irrespective caste, creed or religion,” he remarked.
The two sides agreed to work together to devise a strategy to get Pakistan out of the list of Countries of Particular Concern. The foreign minister said that Pakistan would designate a focal person to interact with Ambassador Brownback to implement the strategy.
The foreign minister said that higher judiciary of the country had made landmark decisions to protect the properties and places of worship of minorities.