RAWALPINDI: Punjab Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Khalil Tahir Sandhu has said that the provincial government was committed to safeguarding minorities' rights.

While speaking at Christmas dinner hosted by him on behalf of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in honor of the European Union ambassadors and senior diplomats in Islamabad, he highlighted the initiatives taken by the provincial government. It included formation of public human rights defenders and committees in all 36 districts of the Punjab, job opportunities for minorities, merit-based scholarships for the youth and financial assistance, marriage registration, legislation against domestic violence and forced conversions, said a press release issued today.

Sandhu said that the government was making legislations against hate-speech, misuse of blasphemy law, remission for minority prisoners, child labor and child abuse, domestic violence against women, protection for lawyers and judges dealing with sensitive cases and a number of other important steps to eliminate discrimination and injustice.

"The government is fully aware of its international obligations and Ministry for Human Rights & Minorities Affairs is looking very closely to various acts and legislations such as torture, capital punishment, women’s rights and child abuse," he said adding that the Punjab has designated a special committee to fulfill the requirements of the GSP Plus status of Pakistan and each ministry has been asked for giving presentation of its performance.

"We believe in working together with the civil society and the international community and we are also highly supportive of the good work being done by NGOs," he said.

Representing EU diplomats, Ambassador Delegation of the Union to Pakistan Jean Francois Cautain said the message of Christmas was peace, tolerance and hope and hashed about minority rights and freedom of religion and appreciated the provincial government's efforts for protection of human rights and freedom of expression.