ISLAMABAD: Rejecting the United Kingdom’s (UK) concerns over the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (PPO), Pakistan on Thursday said it does not accept ‘unjustified criticism from any quarter’.
“We do not accept unjustified criticism from any quarter. All governments need to look at their own record. The Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch and other similar organisations issue regular reports about human rights situation in all countries. We hope that as members of the international community, we can all work toge-ther to see how best we can improve the human rights situation worldwide and not to keep the focus on one country,” FO spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam Khan told reporters at the weekly media briefing.
She was asked to comment on a recent report from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office in which it termed Pakistan as a country of concern and showed reservations over the PPO in the backdrop of human rights issues linked to it.
“Protecting the rights of Pakistani citizens irrespective of their gender, religion, opinions, belief systems and party affiliations is the responsibility of the state of Pakistan as it is the responsibility of all states. Secondly, human rights are universal, they are indivisible and they apply to all. Not just Pakistan but every state, which claims to be a civilised member of the comity of nations, is required and expected to show respect for human rights. Protecting the rights of Pakistanis is our responsibility and no one can be more concerned about the rights of Pakistani citizens than Pakistani state itself.”
On PM Nawaz Sharif’s upcoming visit to the UK, the spokeswoman said the premier would be visiting the UK on the invitation of his British counterpart David Cameron. “We hope this visit would bring substantive progress in bilateral relations. We have set ourselves some targets and we have to see how we move forward on those, for instance, the target of achieving a certain trade volume by 2015. We have Enhanced Strategic Partnership and the visit will provide an opportunity to review what has been achieved so far.”
The FO spokeswoman was not looked comfortable when asked about Altaf Hussain’s request for ID card and passport issuance, and regarding related queries on the official procedure of reacquisition of Pakistani nationality, once rendered, and whether any treaty on exchange of prisoners existed between Pakistan and the UK. “I am sorry, you ask such detailed questions but I do not have the answers because the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not deal with this matter. We provide consular services on behalf of the Ministry of Interior at our missions abroad in line with the procedure. We received Altaf Hussain’s application and forwarded it to the Ministry of Interior. I do not have any information that a response has been received.”
She said Pakistan did not have any extradition treaty or any arrangement with the UK for the exchange of sentenced persons.
When asked to comment on the expected appointed of Ambassador Ali Awadh Aseeri in Pakistan, she said, “I know Ambassador Aseeri was in Pakistan for a long time and at the moment I am not in a position to confirm if he is going to be the next ambassador.”
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