Pakistan itself invited UN working group: FM Hina
13 September, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Wednesday said the United Nations human rights team is visiting Pakistan on the government's invitation.
She told the National Assembly that the team had also visited as many as a dozen countries and another 91 countries had invited it.
She, however, said the team was not mandated to conduct any investigation in the missing persons' issue. She told the House that Pakistan had its own mechanism for protection of human rights.
"The commission on missing persons is working. The Supreme Court has taken suo motu and the government is all sincere in protection of human rights," she added.
Khar said the working group was mandated to engage with the governments to promote human rights.
"It is not mandated to fact-finding or investigation," she added.
Regarding approval of the visit, the minister said the matter was discussed with all major stakeholders. Later, it underwent an inter-ministerial process and a summary was sent to the prime minister for approval, she added.
Mentioning three phases of the special visits, she said the team first visited in May, the second visit was by the UN Human Rights Council chief in June; and the present is the third one.
After the visit, she said the UN Human Rights Council chief had praised the government, adding that the official had also raised drone attacks with the US government.
She brushed aside the perception of fact-finding or investigation by the group and said there was no need to exaggerate the purpose of the visit.
She said Pakistan had also ratified many protocols and conventions of the UN regarding human rights and that showed the government's commitment to protect rights of women, children, minorities and other vulnerable segments of society.
She said the visit was in conformity with the global norms and Pakistan's Commission on Missing Persons head Justice (r) Javed Iqbal had also met the group in Geneva.
"We should not be defensive to visit. We are a democratic and pluralist country where judiciary is independent, media is free and civil society is robust. All these features manifest that we protect human rights," she added.
Khar said, "We in Pakistan are doing a commendable job and should be proud of the mechanism in place and the steps taken to meet the human rights challenges."
She reiterated that the group had a clearly crafted mandate and "we are sure that they will work within their mandate".
"Pakistan remains committed to protect human rights regardless of colour, creed, race and social status," she said and recommended that especially the lawmakers needed to be careful and take the visit in its true context. "We need not confuse it and be clear and mention to it in right context," she added.