GENEVA ( October 31, 2012) Pakistan presented its second Universal Periodic Review Report in the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday, October 30th. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar outlined progress made by Pakistan in promoting human rights, especially in light of the 44 specific recommendations for improvement made to Pakistan after its first report in 2008.
Among the human rights landmarks of her government outlined by Ms. Khar, were the transformational changes in the constitution and legislation for promotion of democracy, federalism, human rights and women’s rights. She reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to fight terrorism and extremism especially to ensure and restore women’s and girl’s rights.
Pakistan’s report was received well by the states participating in the session. Almost all the 84 states that commented on the report asked Pakistan to ensure implementation of pro women and human rights laws and continue efforts for realization of rights conferred by these laws. They also expressed concern over continuing violence and discrimination against women and demanded steps to eliminate gender biases.
Fauzia Viqar from Shirkat Gah and members of other civil society organizations attended Pakistan’s UPR report presentation. While acknowledging the legislative and institutional efforts of the government, such as formation of a national human rights commission and over half a dozen pro-women laws passed since 2008, members of the civil society stressed measures for implementation of the laws and efforts for mindset changes to ensure lasting change. Shirkat Gah noted with satisfaction, that many of their earlier recommendations shared with other Country Missions had been included in their statements after Pakistan’s presentation. Some of these recommendations included a demand for effective provincial laws on domestic violence; ending early and forced marriages; stronger institutional mechanisms for support of women victims of violence; effective monitoring and reporting of cases of violence against women and; ending parallel judicial systems.
In a side event organized by Women’s International League on Peace and Freedom, Fauzia Viqar from Shirkat Gah and Ayesha Taslim from WILPF Pakistan examined gaps in Pakistan’s report and necessary steps needed by Pakistan for ensuring women’s rights. They expressed concern that despite assertion by the Foreign Minister that UPR report was prepared in an inclusive manner, the draft report had not been shared with the civil society members in Pakistan.