Pakistan hits back at Israel over HR criticism


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Israel on Tuesday traded blame in a rare diplomatic spat over human rights issues, as Islamabad condemned Tel Aviv for criticising the South Asian country on human rights.

The diplomatic spat was triggered by Israel’s Permanent Representative to the UN, who during the session of Human Rights Council in Geneva voiced concerns over the rights situation in Pakistan.

Taking part in the debate, Adil Farjon accused Pakistan of enforced disappearances, torture, crackdown on peaceful protests and violence against religious minorities.

“Israel believes that it is essential that Pakistan heeds our recommendations to take all appropriate steps to prevent arbitrary arrests, torture and other ill-treatment and bring perpetrators of such acts to justice and end the widespread use of the death penalty, especially against children and persons with disabilities,” she said.

Farjon called on Pakistan to “decriminalise same-sex activities” in line with international human rights standards and adopt a “comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation” in this regard.

The Israel envoy also expressed concerns over the parliament passing amendments in January to tighten the blasphemy law in Pakistan, which she claimed was “often used to target and persecute religious and other minority groups”.

The foreign office in a statement said on Tuesday the UN Human Rights Council today adopted Pakistan’s Universal Periodic Report unanimously. Several states and civil society organisations commended Pakistan on the progress achieved in promoting human rights, foreign office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said in a statement.

Taking note of the Israeli envoy’s remarks, the spokesperson said Israel’s politically motivated statement was fundamentally at variance with the otherwise positive tone of the session and the statements made by a vast majority of states.

“Given Israel’s long history of oppression of Palestinians, Pakistan can certainly do without its advice on protecting Human Rights,” she added.

Separately the government ministers too condemned the statement of the Israeli envoy.

Federal minister for climate change Sherry Rehman alleged that Pakistan’s enemies, who spoke against Palestinians, Muslims and Kashmiris at every international forum, were now supporting the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)