Thank you, Mr President.
Let me begin by welcoming Pakistan’s engagement with the Universal Periodic Review and the progress it has made in a number of areas since its last review.
The United Kingdom is pleased that Pakistan fully supports our recommendation to ensure the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Act aligns with Pakistan’s Constitution. We believe this a crucial step to end impunity for attacks against journalists and promote a free media, which is a cornerstone of democracy.
We also welcome Pakistan’s support for our recommendation to define domestic violence as a crime and to provide adequate resources to end gender-based violence. This builds on Pakistan’s recent progress on women’s rights, including passing legislation to expedite rape cases and strengthening sentences for sexual harassment in the workplace.
However we do regret that Pakistan did not accept our recommendation to ensure school textbooks are inclusive of all religions, and ensure that minorities can access suitable alternatives to compulsory Qu’ranic studies. We urge the Government of Pakistan to ensure the safety and religious freedom of persecuted religious communities, including Ahmadi Muslims and Christians.
We reiterate our commitment to work closely with Pakistan as it seeks to protect and promote the human rights of all its citizens. Particularly with upcoming elections, we would stress the importance of upholding democratic rights, including the right to protest, adherence to the rule of law, and transparency in legal processes.
The UK attaches great importance to the concrete steps taken to implement UPR recommendations. We strongly encourage Pakistan to provide an update on progress by submitting a mid-term report.