The Suffering of Pakistan’s Minorities Raised In the UK Parliament. Government promises to look again at how £2.6 billion of aid has been prioritised.


Faith Targeted Human Trafficking in Pakistan
Read this important post from the Arise Foundation

https://www.arise.foundation/news/faith-targeted-human-trafficking-highlights-need-for-better-foreign-aid-policy

Pakistan China Brides
and raised in parliamentary questions:

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further to the Written Answer by Baroness Sugg on 29 May (HL15755), whether they are including religion as a baseline indicator of vulnerability to modern slavery and human trafficking, especially faith-targeted human trafficking; and whether their AAWAZ II programme will include religion in its monitoring and evaluation.

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further to the Written Answer by Baroness Sugg on 29 May (HL15755), how they intend to help Christian women whose religion is the cause of their trafficking and enslavement when they “do not directly target specific sub groups of marginalised people e.g. Christian women”.

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what are the criteria used to determine which communities in Pakistan are “marginalised” and therefore vulnerable to human trafficking and modern slavery for the purposes of their foreign aid programmes.

Shagufta
Shagufta Kauser and her disabled husband – both now sentenced to death in Pakistan

Subject: Pakistan’s Persecuted Minorities- Oral Question in the House today

New Government Minister, Baroness Sugg, Says “ I share the noble Lord’s desire to ensure that our international aid funding reaches those who most need it” and promises to review the way aid is prioritised and spent and where it goes. She confirmed that in the last decade alone Pakistan received £2.6 billion of British aid.
The UK’s leading Sikh, Lord Singh, called for Pakistan to be expelled from the Commonwealth because of its treatment of minorities.
The Former Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay of Clashfern said that in its treatment of minorities Pakistan is in breach of its human rights obligations.

Pakistan: United Kingdom Aid
Next
06 June 2019
Question

11.15 am

Asked by

Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much United Kingdom aid has been given to Pakistan in the last ten years; and what assessment they have made of the extent to which this was used to support persecuted minorities in that country.

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)

In asking my Question I should mention that I co-chair the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Pakistani Minorities.

The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Baroness Sugg) (Con)

My Lords, in the past 10 years, the UK has given £2.6 billion in aid to Pakistan, targeted towards the poorest and most excluded, who are often from minorities. We promote minority rights from grass roots to the highest levels of government. UK aid to Pakistan is declining but continues to focus on the poorest. Since 2011, UK aid has supported primary education for 10 million children, skills training for almost 250,000 people, and microfinance loans for 6.6 million people.

Lord Alton of Liverpool

I thank the Minister for that reply and welcome her to her new responsibilities.

Is she able to intervene on behalf of Shagufta Kauser, an illiterate woman from one of Pakistan’s beleaguered minorities, who now occupies Asia Bibi’s cell in Multan and who, like her, has been sentenced to death for allegedly sending blasphemous texts in English?

When two children are forced to watch a lynch mob of 1,200 burn alive their parents; when no one is brought to justice for the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Minister for Minorities; when 1,000 Hindu and Christian girls are forcibly married and converted; and when minorities are ghettoised into squalid colonies, which I have visited, and forced to clean latrines and sweep streets, is it not time that DfID re-examined its policy of refusing to specifically direct any of the £383,000 that, on average, we give every single day to Pakistan in aid for the alleviation of the suffering and destitution of these desperate minorities?

Baroness Sugg

I pay tribute to the noble Lord’s long-standing involvement in this important issue. We remain deeply concerned by the misuse of blasphemy laws and the treatment of minority religious communities in Pakistan. We regularly raise these concerns with the Government of Pakistan at a senior level. I share the noble Lord’s desire to ensure that our international aid funding reaches those who most need it. Currently, many Pakistanis are reluctant to declare themselves members of religious minorities because of fear of discrimination. We are working to ensure that we understand where our aid is going. I can reassure the noble Lord that we continually keep our programmes under review, and where we can better prioritise resources we will do so.

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab)

My Lords, through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, ODA money funds the CAPRI programme in Pakistan. While its aim is to increase Pakistan’s capacity to investigate, detain and prosecute suspected terrorists, its definition of terrorism is incredibly wide. It has also resulted in torture and 195 death sentences. Will the Minister ask her department to investigate whether the CAPRI project, supported by the CSSF, could be supporting such human rights abuses? Will she commit to publishing the overseas security and justice assistance assessment that led to this project being signed off by a Minister?

Baroness Sugg

As the noble Lord will be aware, the Government oppose the death penalty in all circumstances. We will continue to ensure that our position on that is made clear in all our dealings with partner Governments. I am afraid I am not aware of the specific project that the noble Lord raises, but I will certainly go back to the department and write to him in detail.

Baroness Sheehan (LD)

My Lords, the white stripe on the Pakistan flag signifies the rights of religious minorities, but today Pakistan has strayed a long way from the ideals of its founder, Muhammed Ali Jinnah, and its heinous blasphemy laws are feared with good reason by the same minority groups he sought to protect. I ask the Minister, at the same time as welcoming her to her new role: what safeguards does DfID put in place to ensure that religious minorities are, at the very least, not discriminated against in accessing and benefiting from DfID programmes?

Baroness Sugg

My Lords, I mentioned our response to the blasphemy laws in a previous answer. We must continue to stand up for human rights and freedom of religion and belief. The Prime Minister has appointed my noble friend Lord Ahmad as special envoy on the issue. He raises it regularly, and did so recently in February.

Lord Singh of Wimbledon (CB)

My Lords, the treatment of minorities in Pakistan, particularly Christians, infringes not only the UN declaration of human rights but, ironically, also the clear teachings of the Koran, which says that the people of the book—that is, Christians and Jews—should be allowed to practise their religion unhindered.

Despite this, members of the Christian community have been murdered and placed on death row for years on end for professing their faith, and it is now reported that some Christian women and young girls are being sold into slavery in China and used for the harvesting of organs.

With that in mind, does the Minister agree that we should now look to the targeting of our aid and moving for Pakistan to be expelled, not for the first time, from the Commonwealth?

Baroness Sugg

My Lords, I certainly agree that we need to ensure that our international aid reaches those people who need it most. To that end, the Foreign Secretary has commissioned an independent report to fully understand the scope of the issue, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro will be writing recommendations on how we can better address this issue.

Lord Mackay of Clashfern (Con)

My Lords, I understood that human rights practice in the country in question was a factor in the allocation of aid from us. I think it is clear that in Pakistan freedom of religion means that if you have a certain faith you are apt to face the death penalty, which does not strike me as in conformity with human rights or freedom of religion.

Baroness Sugg

My Lords, as I said, my department and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office work closely to ensure that we are able to protect minority communities in Pakistan. We have seen some progress, and we welcome the commitments made by Prime Minister Khan to improve inclusion and transparency and to set Pakistan on a path to greater self-reliance. We have seen positive steps so far, including progress made on child marriage by passing the child marriage restraint Act and the issuing of visas to allow Indian Sikhs to make a pilgrimage to Pakistan. There are other commitments, including the creation of a commission on minorities and the Christian divorce Bill, where we will continue to support the Pakistan Government in implementing those policies.
pakistani christian refugees
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Lord Alton has raised issues connected to Pakistan on around 200 occasions in Parliament. The full list can be viewed at:

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/search/?q=PaKISTAN+&pid=13103

This is a selection:

Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the human rights and freedom of religion or belief implications of the case of the 16 year old Pakistani Christian girl Sheeza Riasat who was abducted from her parents’ home near Gujranwala, Pakistan on 12 February and forcibly converted and married; and what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan about that case.

Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan about kidnappings and forced conversions of under-age girls who are members of a religious minority; and what were the outcomes of any such representations.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
The Government is concerned about the case of Sheeza Riasat. The Government strongly condemns the forced marriage and forced conversion of women and girls from religious minorities in Pakistan.
We welcome the recent decision by the Pakistan Senate to pass the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2019. The Bill was recently introduced to the National Assembly.
The UK regularly raises concerns about the protection of vulnerable groups, including religious minorities, women and children, with the Pakistani Government. Officials at the British High Commission in Islamabad have raised the issue of forced marriage with the National Commission for Human Rights.
During my visit to Pakistan on 18 and 19 February, I met faith leaders to discuss issues faced by religious minorities, including the issue of forced marriage. I also raised our concerns about child protection, the treatment of minority communities and the issue of forced marriage with Pakistan’s Federal Ministerfor Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, during the same visit.
We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to take the steps necessary to comply in full with its human rights obligations to vulnerable groups, including religious minorities and women and girls, and to uphold the rule of law.

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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report by Members of the European Parliament Religious Minorities in Pakistan, published on 13 May, which states that the situation of Pakistan’s minorities is worsening; and whether they intend to raise the contents of that report with the government of Pakistan.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 4 June 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
We are aware of the report on Religious Minorities in Pakistan which was published on 13 May by Members of the European Parliament.
The British Government regularly raises its concerns about discrimination against minority communities with the Pakistani Government at a senior level. I raised our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief and the protection of minority religious communities with Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister, Dr Shireen Mazari, during my visit to Islamabad in February.
At the UN Periodic Review of Pakistan’s human rights record in November 2017, the UK called on Pakistan to strengthen protection of minorities and establish an independent National Commission for Minorities. The Government will continue to urge Pakistan to honour in practice its human rights obligations, including those related to religious minorities, and to uphold the rule of law.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to their assessment in the Department for International Development’s Pakistan Report 2018 that there is a “significant modern slavery problem amongst the poor, minorities, women and children” in Pakistan and their policy to provide assistance to “target the poorest and most vulnerable”, what steps they are taking to provide direct support to Christian women reportedly being trafficked to China as brides.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 29 May 2019, cW)
Baroness SuggThe Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development
The UK Government’s approach to tackling modern slavery and trafficking in Pakistan is to reduce the permissive environment through community-based activities, and to strengthen the legislative framework for more effective prevention and control. Our programmes do not directly target specific sub groups of marginalised people eg; Christian women, but we do target marginalised communities from a range of disadvantaged backgrounds, including Christian women who are at risk of this terrible practice.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the treatment of the Principal of the Edwardes College, Peshawar, and his family and the attempts to intervene in the administration of the College by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor on religious minorities and educational opportunities in Pakistan.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 28 May 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
We are aware of this case. The British Government regularly raises its concerns about discrimination against minority communities with the Pakistani Government at a senior level. I raised our concerns about Freedom of Religionor Belief and the protection of minority religious communities with Pakistan’sHuman Rights Minister, Dr Shireen Mazari, during my visit to Islamabad in February.
At the UN Periodic Review of Pakistan’s human rights record in November 2017, the UK called on Pakistan to strengthen protection of minorities and establish an independent National Commission for Minorities. The Government will continue to urge Pakistan to honour in practice its human rights obligations, including those related to religious minorities, and to uphold the rule of law.

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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the case of the Pakistani Christian woman, Shagufta Kauser, who, with her disabled husband, Shafqat Emmanuel, was sentenced to death in 2014, for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages, including reports that the couple are illiterate and that the messages were in English; and what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan about this case.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 22 May 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
We are aware and are monitoring the case of Shagufta Kausar and her husband Shafqat Emmanuel. We remain deeply concerned about reports of discrimination against the Christian community and other religious minorities in Pakistan. We regularly raise our concerns about the misuse of the blasphemy laws with the government of Pakistan at a senior level.
I raised our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief and the protection of minority religious communities with Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, during my visit to Islamabad in February. The UKraised concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief at Pakistan’s UN Universal Periodic Review of human rights in November 2017. We urged Pakistan to strengthen the protection of minorities, including by establishing an independent National Commission for Minorities from all faith communities.
The UK remains firmly opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances. We have repeatedly called upon the Government of Pakistan to end capital punishment and, at a minimum, commit to publicly renewing the previously imposed moratorium on the death penalty.
We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to guarantee fully the rights of all Pakistani citizens, including religious minorities, and to honour its international obligations.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they welcome the decision of the Pakistan Senate to pass a bill to amend the Child Marriage Restraint Bill 1929 to set the minimum marriage age at 18 years in Pakistan; and whether they will consider ways in which UK aid to Pakistan could be used to facilitate the effective enforcement of that legislation.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 21 May 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
The UK welcomes the decision by the Pakistan Senate to pass the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2019.
The UK provided £282 million to Pakistan for the financial year 2018-19 under the AAWAZ I: Voice and Accountability Programme to promote the rights of children, youth and women. Of this, around £400,000 was spent on preventing forced and early marriages. The Department For International Development (DFID) is considering ways in which UK aid could be used to facilitate the effective implementation of the legislation once the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill is passed by the National Assembly, working with government institutions and communities to help end child marriage. DFID has set aside funding for interventions in support of ending child marriage under its AAWAZ II programme.
We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to take the steps necessary to comply in full with its human rights obligations to vulnerable groups, including women and girls, and to uphold the rule of law.

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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the letter sent by 50 members of the European Parliament to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on 30 April warning that continued violation of the UN Treaty on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in respect of the treatment of Pakistan’s minorities may compel the EU Parliament to call on the European Commission to suspend all subsidies and trade preferences to Pakistan; and whether they are considering taking similar action.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 17 May 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
We are aware of the open letter to Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, in which EU Parliamentarians express concerns about the persecution of minorities and highlight the link to the Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+).
The British Government urges Pakistan to make human rights reforms in line with the relevant UN conventions, and to fully cooperate with the EU in the GSP+ process. I raised our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief and the protection of minority religious communities with Pakistan’s Foreign Ministerand Human Rights Minister during my visit to Pakistan in February 2019. At the UN Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan in November 2017, the UK pressed Pakistan to strengthen the protection of minorities and to explain the steps being taken to tackle the abuse of the blasphemy laws.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to assist Pakistani Ahmadi and Christian refugees, fleeing persecution in Pakistan and awaiting determination of their asylum cases in Sri Lanka, who are seeking refuge in police stations and elsewhere due to fear of targeted attacks on minorities.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 16 May 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
The British Government has agreed with Sri Lankan counterparts the need for inclusivity and respect for human rights in their response to the Easter Sundayattacks and underlined the importance of Sri Lankans working together to reduce intercommunal tensions. Minister for Security and Economic Crime Ben Wallace visited Sri Lanka on 2-3 May and reiterated these points.
We have raised concerns with the Sri Lankan Government at reports of incidents of violence and intimidation against Muslims, refugees and asylum seekers since the Easter Sunday attacks. We have also raised concerns specifically about the situation in Negombo, where approximately 1,050 refugees were displaced from their ordinary places of residence and are now being temporarily housed.
The British High Commission in Colombo is in regular contact with the Sri Lankan Government, UN agencies and civil society organisations who are working towards a sustainable solution, including to identify secure relocation options to ensure protection of both refugees and asylum seekers.
The Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific and I have both met the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in recent weeks to raise concerns about refugees and minority rights in Sri Lanka. The Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific also addressed this issue in the House of Commons on 9 May.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 2 May (HL15272), what was the most recent response they received from the government of Pakistan about the right of Asia Bibi to join her family in Canada; and when they anticipate that this will take place.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 16 May 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
The British Government welcomes reports that Asia Bibi has been able to travel freely out of Pakistan and is now able to make decisions about her future.
We also welcome the Pakistan Government’s commitment to the rule of law, following the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s decision in January to uphold her acquittal of blasphemy charges.
Our primary concern has always been Asia Bibi’s safety and security. Since Asia Bibi’s sentencing in 2010, we have been in close and extensive contact with a range of international partners to support a positive outcome for her.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following the remarks of the Prime Ministerof Pakistan on 10 April that Asia Bibi would be leaving Pakistan very soon but that there was a complication, what clarification they have sought from the government of Pakistan about (1) what is complicating her departure from Pakistan, and (2) measures to expedite her departure.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 2 May 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
As the Foreign Secretary stated in Parliament on 2 April, her case remains a high priority for the British Government. We continue to be in close, regular contact with international partners to ensure a positive outcome for Asia Bibiand her family.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government when their officials working in Pakistan last visited the shanty towns on the periphery of Islamabad to report on the conditions in which the residents live; and whether they are collecting data on the percentage of people from Pakistan’s minorities living in such areas.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 16 April 2019, cW)
Lord Bates The Minister of State, Department for International Development
UK aid prioritises support for the poorest and most excluded people and communities in Pakistan. Thus, whilst we recognise that there are poor people living in Islamabad, UK aid is focussed in the provinces with the highest number of poor people and on strengthening capacity of those provinces to deliver basic services to their populations.
DFID strive to visit as many programme locations as possible to gather feedback from communities, including minority communities. DFID Pakistanalso has projects that work directly with minorities and aims to tackle the drivers underpinning intolerance and discrimination, through promoting greater understanding between communities.
DFID Pakistan is striving to better disaggregate its results through a data disaggregation action plan which focuses on 4 key areas: sex, age, disability and geography. This will improve our understanding of those who benefit from our programmes. We do not currently have plans to collect data on religion as we recognise the risks associated with potentially revealing such sensitive information for religious minorities.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Pakistan Annual Statistical Bulletin of Federal Government Employees 2017–18, published by the government of Pakistan on 26 February, what assessment they have made of (1) the number of people employed from that country’s religious minorities, (2) the nature of the occupations open to them, and (3) the numbers working in either menial jobs or senior management grades; and what assessment they have made of the impact that UK aid programmes have had on those statistics.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 25 March 2019, cW)
Lord Bates The Minister of State, Department for International Development
We have not conducted an assessment of the composition of federal government employees as reported in the Annual Statistical Bulletin of Federal Government Employees 2017–18. However, DFID and the FCO continue to raise the issue of human rights of minorities at the highest levels of government, including in our annual Bilateral Assistance Talks. We advocate greater tolerance and action against abuses when they occur. DFID Pakistan’s Skills Development Programme will provide 330,000 poor and vulnerable people, including those from minority communities, with technical and vocational training to improve their employment prospects.
Our aid relationship with any government is based on an assessment of its commitment to our Partnership Principles, including to promote and safeguard human rights. Our aid targets the poor, regardless of race, religion, social background or nationality. Our portfolio of programmes contributes either directly or indirectly to the protection of minority rights by strengthening systems for delivery of services and by adopting a ‘do no harm’ approach.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they last raised the case of Abdul Shakoor with the government of Pakistan.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 21 March 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
We are aware of Mr Shakoor’s case who is an 84 year old bookshop owner. We remain deeply concerned about reports of discrimination and abuses against the Ahmadiyya community and other religious minorities in Pakistan. The Government strongly condemns the persecution of all minorities, including the targeting of innocent people based on their beliefs.
We regularly raise our concerns about the protection of minority communities, including Ahmadiyya Muslims, with the Pakistani Government at a senior level.
At the UN Periodic Review of Pakistan’s human rights record in November 2017, the UK raised concerns about limits on freedoms of expression and religion or belief, particularly for the Christian and Ahmadiyya Muslim communities, as well as the increased misuse of terror legislation to portray religious publications of minority communities as hate material.
I discussed the treatment of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and Abdul Shakoor’s case with Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister in February 2019 during my visit to Islamabad. I am pleased to report that Abdul Shakoor was released on the 18 March 2019.
We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to guarantee fully the rights of all Pakistani citizens, including religious minorities, and to honour its international obligations.

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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the kidnapping of Sadaf Khan in Bahawalpur district, Pakistan, on 6 February 2018.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 18 March 2019, cW)
Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they intend to make to the government of Pakistan about the case of Sadaf Khan, in particular about ensuring that (1) the due process of law is followed, (2) her forced conversion and marriage is declared null and void, and (3) she is returned to her family.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 18 March 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
We are not aware of a report of the kidnapping of Sadaf Khan on 6 February 2018; however, we are aware of a report of the kidnapping and forced conversion of Sadaf Amir on 6 February 2019.
The Government strongly condemns the persecution of all minorities, including the forced marriage and forced conversion of Hindu and Christian women and girls in Pakistan. We regularly raise our concerns about the protection of vulnerable groups, including religious minorities, women and children, with the Pakistani Government at a senior level. Most recently, during my visit to Pakistan on 18 and 19 February, I met faith leaders to discuss issues faced by religious minorities, including the issue of forced marriage. I also raised our concerns about the treatment of minority communities with Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, during the same visit.
Pakistan remains a priority for UK development assistance, with programmes designed to improve human rights and opportunities for women. The Department for International Development’s “Aawaz” Voice and Accountability programme in Pakistan works to empower female youth leaders from Punjab (where Bahawalpur district is located) to challenge discriminatory social norms in their communities. Our Rule of Law programme in Pakistanaims to strengthen and help to build public confidence in the formal criminal justice system through more effective investigations and prosecutions of crime. Part of the programme focuses specifically on improving access to justice for women and girls.
We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to take the steps necessary to comply in full with its human rights obligations to vulnerable groups, including religious minorities and women and girls, and to uphold the rule of law.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they intend to make to the government of Pakistan about the case of Sadaf Khan, in particular about ensuring that (1) the due process of law is followed, (2) her forced conversion and marriage is declared null and void, and (3) she is returned to her family.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 18 March 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
We are not aware of a report of the kidnapping of Sadaf Khan on 6 February 2018; however, we are aware of a report of the kidnapping and forced conversion of Sadaf Amir on 6 February 2019.
The Government strongly condemns the persecution of all minorities, including the forced marriage and forced conversion of Hindu and Christian women and girls in Pakistan. We regularly raise our concerns about the protection of vulnerable groups, including religious minorities, women and children, with the Pakistani Government at a senior level. Most recently, during my visit to Pakistan on 18 and 19 February, I met faith leaders to discuss issues faced by religious minorities, including the issue of forced marriage. I also raised our concerns about the treatment of minority communities with Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, during the same visit.
Pakistan remains a priority for UK development assistance, with programmes designed to improve human rights and opportunities for women. The Department for International Development’s “Aawaz” Voice and Accountability programme in Pakistan works to empower female youth leaders from Punjab (where Bahawalpur district is located) to challenge discriminatory social norms in their communities. Our Rule of Law programme in Pakistanaims to strengthen and help to build public confidence in the formal criminal justice system through more effective investigations and prosecutions of crime. Part of the programme focuses specifically on improving access to justice for women and girls.
We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to take the steps necessary to comply in full with its human rights obligations to vulnerable groups, including religious minorities and women and girls, and to uphold the rule of law.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much aid they provided to Pakistan over the past year; and what proportion of this aid was used to support efforts to end child abduction, forced conversion and illegal marriages.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 11 March 2019, cW)
Lord Bates The Minister of State, Department for International Development
The UK provided £282m to Pakistan for the financial year 2018/19. Under the AAWAZ I programme (which ended in May 2018) around £400,000 was spent on preventing forced and early marriages. Some of these beneficiaries may also have been affected by forced conversion or child abduction. Under new programming, we plan to spend around £1.88 million in preventing early and forced marriages. This includes enactment of the policy and legislative framework and capacity building support of key government institutions.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to divert aid given to Pakistan to training law enforcement officers in the emotional needs of the parents of kidnapped children, and in providing families with practical assistance.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 11 March 2019, cW)
Lord Bates The Minister of State, Department for International Development
HMG has no plans to use aid specifically to support families of kidnapped children in Pakistan. The UK is supporting the implementation of the 2018 Juvenile Justice System Act (JJSA) which will help protect the legal rights of juvenile victims, witnesses and alleged offenders. Part of this will include working with law enforcement officers and families.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan on the importance of preventing the provincial government of Sindh from establishing operational control of the Sindh Human Rights Commission; and what assessment they have made of whether this would compromise its independence.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 7 March 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
Promoting human rights is a fundamental part of the British Government’s work, including in Pakistan.
We continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to take the steps necessary to comply in full with its human rights obligations. This includes ensuring that the human rights institutional structures and processes necessary to discharge its international commitments are in place in line with international standards.
We maintain a regular dialogue with the National Commission for Human Rights of Pakistan about their concerns. I discussed these concerns with the Chairman of the National Commission during my visit to Pakistan on 18 and 19 February. I also raised human rights issues with the Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari during the same visit.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they support the UN Paris Principles, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, including the provisions which require such institutions to maintain their independence from the national governments; and if so, what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan about the National Commissionfor Human Rights of Pakistan maintaining its independence from the Federal Ministry of Human Rights of Pakistan.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 5 March 2019, cW)
Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the government of Pakistan about ensuring that the Federal Ministry of Human Rights of Pakistan does not curtail the independence of the National Commission for Human Rights of Pakistan by controlling its financial resources.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 5 March 2019, cW)
Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have made any assessment of whether (1) the National Commission for Human Rights of Pakistan is free to submit independent reports to UN bodies, as required by the UN Paris Principles; and (2) the Chairman and members of the National Commission for Human Rights of Pakistan are free to travel to participate in committees of the UN.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 5 March 2019, cW)
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State
Promoting human rights is a fundamental part of the British Government’s diplomatic work, including in Pakistan.
We continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to take the steps necessary to comply in full with its human rights obligations. This includes ensuring that the human rights institutional structures and processes necessary to discharge its international commitments are in place in line with international standards.
We maintain a regular dialogue with the National Commission for Human Rights of Pakistan about their concerns. I discussed these concerns with the Chairman of the National Commission during my visit to Pakistan on 18 and 19 February. I also raised human rights issues with the Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, during the same visit.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made, if any, of the comments of Hafiz Entisha Ahmed published in the Guardian on 30 January that Asia Bibi “deserves to be murdered”; and, following the decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to uphold her acquittal following nine years’ incarceration on death row, why she has not immediately been offered asylum in the UK.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 13 February 2019, cW)
Baroness Williams of TraffordThe Minister of State, Home Department, Minister for Equalities (Department for International Development)
As the Prime Minister set out on 14 November, the release of Asia Bibi will be very welcome news to her family and to all those who have campaigned in Pakistan and around the world for her release. We welcome the assurances the Government of Pakistan has given on keeping her and her family safe, and it is important that all countries seek to uphold the rule of law and afford security and protection for the rights of all citizens irrespective of faith or belief.
It is a longstanding Government policy not to comment on individual cases. In accordance with our duty of confidentiality, we cannot confirm whether an asylum claim has been received or the outcome of such a request. Departing from this policy may put individuals and their family members in danger.
We remain deeply concerned by the misuse of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan, and the fact that religious minorities are disproportionately affected. The harsh penalties for blasphemy, including the death penalty, add to these concerns.
We regularly raise our human rights concerns with the Government of Pakistanat a senior level; and we have urged them to take steps to prevent the misuse of the blasphemy laws. My Foreign and Commonwealth colleague, the Minister of State for Commonwealth and the UN, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, discussed our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief and the protection of minority religious communities with Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister, Dr Shireen Mazari, in September 2018. We will continue to press the new Government of Pakistan to adhere to its international obligations and uphold the rule of law.
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Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the government of Pakistan about employment discrimination, with particular regard to advertisements published by that government which reserve low level jobs, such as street sweeping, for religious minorities; whether UK aid supports employment opportunities in the public sector closed to religious minorities; and whether they support programmes which help illiterate members of religious minorities in that country to improve their employment prospects.
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• Hansard source(Citation: HL Deb, 12 February 2019, cW)
Lord Bates The Minister of State, Department for International Development
Our aid relationship with any government is based on an assessment of their commitment to our Partnership Principles, including to promote and safeguard human rights. Our development assistance targets the poor, regardless of race, religion, social background or nationality. We promote the Partnership Principles in our dealings with the Pakistan Government, and this extends to economic development and employment. The Partnership Principles Assessment (PPA) is regularly discussed with the Economic Affairs Division, Government of Pakistan, at the federal level and we discussed it formally last year at the Bilateral Assistance Talks in March. We also have specific programmes to help the poorest become more equipped for work. DFIDPakistan’s Skills Development Programme will provide 330,000 poor and vulnerable people, including those from minority communities, with technical and vocational training to improve their employment prospects.
DFID and the FCO continue to raise the issue of human rights of minorities at the highest levels of Government, including in our annual Bilateral Assistance Talks, advocating greater tolerance and action against abuses when they occur.
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