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Today, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir received US Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Michael H. Posner, who is presently visiting Pakistan, and discussed issues related to human rights and International Humanitarian Law, and enhancing bilateral cooperation in these areas with the view to promoting best practices.

The Foreign Secretary said that Pakistan greatly valued its relations with the US. It was satisfying that there had been tremendous momentum generated in bilateral relations in the last two years to our mutual benefit. Pakistan deeply appreciated the international agenda of the Obama administration to promote peace and prosperity around the world. He said the fact that Pakistan and the US shared human values, there was great scope for bilateral cooperation in the pursuit of international human rights agenda.

Briefing the Assistant Secretary of State on multiple challenges facing Pakistan, especially in the context of extremism and terrorism, the Foreign Secretary said that Pakistan was undergoing transformation in terms of promoting a transparent, democratic society. In this regard, the role being played by country’s rapidly growing civil society, robust media and independent judiciary was significant. The Government and the people of Pakistan were committed to strengthening democracy, and the strides made in the last three years were important to strengthen democratic norms and culture in the country. He added that educational institutions were key to preventing impressionable minds to be lured by extremism.

On international human rights agenda, the Foreign Secretary underlined that selective approaches pursued by some had invariably resulted in misgivings and damaged the cause of building international consensus on promoting best practices. In this regard, he mentioned the longstanding Jammu and Kashmir dispute and the denial of the right of self-determination to Kashmiris. He said it was necessary that politics should be kept separate from human rights agenda, adding that Pakistan as OIC Coordinator in Geneva was interested to play a role of consensus builder.

The Foreign Secretary also dilated upon the impact of globalization on traditional societies and how Pakistan was trying to preserve its cultural strengths and societal balance while transforming itself into a modern democratic state.

The Assistant Secretary of State commended Pakistan’s vibrant society and its accomplishments against heavy odds, especially in retaining the freedom of expression and independence of judiciary. He also appreciated Pakistan’s active role in the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The two sides agreed to work more closely in multilateral human rights fora, especially in the UN Council of Human Rights, to promote shared values and objectives. They also agreed to have regular consultations on issues of human rights and International Humanitarian Law.

22 January 2011

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