UN condemns attacks on minorities in Pakistan
Islamabad: The United Nations on Monday condemned the violence against ethnic and religious minorities, including Hazaras and Christians in Pakistan, and called on the government to safeguard the rights of vulnerable communities.
"It is alarming that in one year, hundreds of Pakistanis belonging to different minority groups have been killed, which is denial of right to life and disrespect of humanity," Timo Pakkala, UN Resident Coordinator, said.
She condemned the recent tragic events in Quetta, Karachi and this past weekend in Lahore, targeting especially religious and ethnic minorities.
Nearly 250 Shias were killed in three bomb attacks in Quetta and Karachi while a mob of over 3,000 ransacked and burnt scores of homes in a Christian neighbourhood of Lahore on Saturday after a Christian man was accused of blasphemy.
"The UN urges the government and all political parties to accelerate efforts to build harmony and peace among different sections of society and take concrete measures to protect the existence and identity of ethnic, cultural and religious minorities in Pakistan," she said.
She added that Pakistan had ratified several international human rights treaties that include minority rights. Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recognises the rights of minorities to enjoy their own culture and to practise their own religion.
"Moreover, the preamble and Article 36 of the Constitution of Pakistan clearly safeguards rights of minorities," she said.
Following the attacks on religious and ethnic minorities in Pakistan, the UN Secretary General has called for "swift and determined action" against those claiming responsibility and perpetrating such actions.
The UN reiterated its support for efforts by the government and people of Pakistan to protect minorities.
Referring to the general elections expected to be in mid-May, she said that Pakistan is embarking on an important political transition that people hope will help realise their aspirations towards a stable, prosperous and democratic Pakistan.
"The gains that the country has made in recent years in many areas in human rights must not be put in jeopardy by the intolerance of a few," she said.