Pakistan secures seat in UNHRC after two years
LAHORE: After a two-year hiatus, Pakistan has once again secured a seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) among countries representing the Asia-Pacific region.
Activists on the social media have however criticised the government for what they say is its failure to match words with actions on its commitment to fundamental rights of Pakistani citizens.
The election took place during the 72nd session of UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Monday morning.
Besides Pakistan, four vacant seats in the Asia-Pacific region were contested by five states including Afghanistan, Qatar and Malaysia. Previously, Pakistan has been a member of UNHRC from 2006-2011 and 2013-2015. It lost its membership in 2015 on failing to get enough votes.
In the statement through which Pakistan announced its candidature to the UN General Assembly, it maintained that being a democratic and progressive state, Pakistan had always been committed to safeguarding and promoting fundamental freedoms for all. Pakistan also highlighted its struggle with terrorism and said that despite the challenges the country had been facing for years, it had always stood by the commitment to protect human rights.
Among its pledges, Pakistan has assured the General Assembly of its commitment towards the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide. It has said that it will work for spreading awareness regarding human rights through the national media and will continue its existing commitment to provide justice to victims of rights violations in the country.
Pakistan has said that it will set up more crisis centres for women subjected to violence and has also promised to protect the rights of minorities in the country. For strengthening the rights of the children, the country will set up and strengthen the National Commission for Rights of Children.
It has told the UN body that it will integrate human rights concerns into development planning by including cross-cutting issues of healthcare, education and social services in the Vision 2025 plan. Alongside, it has said, it will allocate resources for gender mainstreaming through the Public Sector Development Programmes.
On the international level, Pakistan has pledged to work on making the HRC a platform for cooperation on the basis of non-discrimination as mentioned in the Institution Building Package of the HRC Resolution 5/1. It has further said that it will play an active role in the Council and will work to promote dialogue and cooperation among member states.
Pakistan has pledged that it will submit all periodic reports to the treaty bodies in a timely manner.
However, these pledges were met with criticism on the social media where many rights activists highlighted what they felt was the government’s hypocrisy. They said instances of persecution of minorities were widespread in the country and the government had failed to uphold freedom of speech of the citizens.
Activist Muhammad Ali Talpur tweeted, “Words are easy to form and need nothing in action.
Other states elected as members of the council for a two year term include Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Chile, Congo, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Qatar, Senegal, Spain and Ukraine.