ISLAMABAD President Asif Ali Zardari has reiterated the resolve of the government to uphold basic human rights of all individuals regardless of caste, creed or any other consideration.

In a message on the occasion of the Universal Human Rights Day, observed the world over on December 10th every year, the President said respect for human rights is basic to our religion - Islam- which teaches us deep respect for rights of all human beings.

It upholds the eternal values of equal rights, social justice and peace, and banishes discrimination on the basis of class, colour or creed, he said.

Zardari said our leaders and people have suffered hugely in the struggle to ensure the basic rights to the people to live in security and dignity.

“Indeed our leader Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto laid down her life for the cause and while returning to Pakistan from exile in October 2007 despite dangers to her life she said she was doing it for the rights of men and women to live in security and dignity and in liberty”, he said. The President said the efforts of the present government with regard to signing and ratifying human rights convention is commendable.

The President emphasised that let us on this day also spare a thought to the vulnerable sections of society particularly the women and minorities.

Let us pause and reflect how some laws have been misused against them, he added.

Zardari called upon every man and woman of conscience to raise voice against the misuse of some laws against the women and minorities. Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in his message said the HR day provides us an opportunity to take stock of the state of human rights and spread its awareness. This year, the spotlight remains on rights of all people including women, youth, persons with disabilities, minorities and the marginalised, he said.

He said a progressive, balanced and just society is the one, which ensures that rights of all of its citizens are safeguarded through political, legal, economic, cultural and social instruments and frameworks.

For any state to achieve durable peace and foster democracy, it is imperative that it puts in place mechanism aimed at ensuring that rights of the people are protected, he said.

The Prime Minister said govt is committed to upholding the rights of its people. The establishment of a separate Ministry of Human Rights in 2008 at the federal level represents the government’s resolve to mainstream the human rights agenda into public policy, he added.

He said women, children and marginalised sections of society are more vulnerable to exploitation. The government has, therefore, undertaken key legal, economic and administrative reforms for women empowerment in line with the vision of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, he stated. He further said that in addition to increasing the women job quota in the public sector, the government has enacted legislation to end women’s harassment and exploitation, and restore their rights in accordance with law and religious teachings.

The appointment of Women Ombudsperson is yet another initiative to address problems of the working women, he said.

The Prime Minister said a few days ago, he approved a proposal for appointment of human rights defenders to provide easy, quick and free relief to victims of human rights abuses.

He said the recent passage of “Right to Free Compulsory Education” for children between ages of 5 and 16 has made the provision of free education a responsibility of the government.

Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said Pakistan, being a responsible State and is fully cognizant of its regional and international commitments and pledged to remain committed to human rights agenda.

The protection of human rights for all is a prerequisite for establishment of a civilised and progressive society, he added.