In a letter from Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the UK Minister of State and Prime Minister’s Special Envoy, he says the UK “Government strongly condemns child, early and forced marriage; as well as forced conversion of women and girls in Pakistan, including from religious minorities”
And following the recent webinar on forced marriage further questions have been tabled in Parliament.
The Lord Alton of Liverpool
House of Lords
28 October 2020
Thank you for your correspondence of 25 September about women and girls’ rights in Pakistan and the proposals put forward by Professor Mariz Tadros of CREID and Ambreen Qureshi.
Please accept my thanks for the information you have provided and the suggestions made to support the UK Government’s work on women and girls’ rights in Pakistan.
The UK Government strongly condemns child, early and forced marriage; as well as forced conversion of women and girls in Pakistan, including from religious minorities. As you know, we regularly raise our concerns about women and girls’ rights and gender equality with the government of Pakistan at a senior level. Most recently I raised our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief and child, early and forced marriage and forced conversion of women and girls in Pakistan, including from religious minorities, with Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister, Dr Shireen Mazari, on 19 October. On 1 October I met with Pakistan’s Minister for Education, Mr Shafqat Mahmood, and on 8 September with the Governor of Punjab, Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, to discuss inclusive and tolerant education.
Pakistan is one of the UK’s top development priorities and currently the second largest bilateral aid programme with a total of £257 million disbursed in 2019-20. Almost a third of Pakistan’s population (over 60 million people) lives in poverty. Our AAWAZ II Accountability, Inclusion and Reducing Modern Slavery Programme will spend £39.5m over 5 years (2018 – 2024) across the Pakistani provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. The AAWAZ II programme will work with communities to promote the rights of children, women, youth and members of religious minorities; protect them from exploitation; and prevent discrimination and intolerance. As part of AAWAZ II, we support better data and evidence collection on child labour and child marriage; increased access to child protection services; and enhanced access for children to birth registration systems and birth certificates. We are also planning future community engagement on modern slavery.
In addition, we are also working with the Government of Pakistan to strengthen and improve Pakistan’s police and judicial systems. The UK’s Strengthening Rule of Law in Pakistan programme aims to increase public confidence and trust in the Rule of Law. It focuses on delivering outputs that improve the justice system for victims, witnesses and offenders, including vulnerable women and girls.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office will maximise the impact of the aid budget, continue to deliver quality aid programmes to help the world’s poorest and make sure we get the very best value for UK taxpayers’ money.
I welcome the link to the recording of the webinar and look forward to receiving the APPG on Pakistan Minorities future recommendation report.
LORD (TARIQ) AHMAD OF WIMBLEDON
Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth
Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict