Changes needed on EU plan on rights in Afghanistan

GENEVA (AP) – Pakistan’s foreign ministry wants the European Union to scale back plans to strengthen human rights control under new Taliban leadership in Afghanistan, which hopes to emerge from decades of war and instability .

Islamabad said “further improvements” to a resolution from the UN’s highest human rights body are needed, including concrete pledges of assistance for the war-torn country without using the rights of man as the only criterion. Pakistan is arguably the closest state interlocutor to the Taliban, with historical ties and apparent influence with religious militias.

The European bloc is leading an effort backed by more than 40 countries at the Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution next week that would appoint, among other things, a special rapporteur on Afghanistan to help the country meet its international commitments on rights and offer support to rights groups – much of whose work has been halted under new leadership.

Europeans want consensus on the resolution in the Council, which counts Pakistan among its 47 member countries. The rapporteur would benefit from expertise in legal affairs, torture and degrading punishments, the right to education and the rights of women, girls and minorities, according to the resolution.

Pakistan and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation led a unanimous resolution in the Council at a special session in August – before the complete departure of international forces – which expressed concern over the rights situation in Afghanistan, and called for the UN human rights chief to monitor the situation, with a written report expected in March. Some advocacy groups have said it does not go far enough.

In comments to The Associated Press on Thursday evening, Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Asim Iftikhar said the EU draft resolution “needs further improvements” and delegations are working closely on it. collaboration. He said Pakistan believes that the EU initiative “adds no value to the OIC resolution adopted just a month ago with the agreement of all Council members.”

He also said that the EU proposal “seeks to pursue (human rights) concerns regardless of security, safety, conflict, governance and economic dimensions. The EU initiative focuses only on civil and political rights, without any consideration for economic and social rights.

Iftikhar added, “We also advised them to include an indication / element of assistance” for Afghanistan, without further clarification.

Reservations from Islamabad suggest diplomatic wrangling looms in the coming days. The proposal is part of a larger international effort to strengthen control over the rights of women, girls, ethnic minorities and others under the leadership of the Taliban after their overthrow of the Afghan government in August and the departure of international forces. in the country after about two decades. .

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