ISLAMABAD - The Asia Foundation (TAF) hosted an awards ceremony to recognize the human rights defenders for their courage and dedication to protecting the lives of vulnerable groups, and to celebrate the launch of the Right to Expression, Assembly, Association and Thought (REAT) Network.

On the occasion, Gareth Aicken, Country Representative of TAF, highlighted the Foundation’s long-standing commitment to human rights as enshrined in Pakistan’s Constitution.

Frans van Rijn, Deputy Ambassador Netherlands, spoke on their human rights initiatives in Pakistan; and Justice Naeem Shakir spoke about rising extremism, and holding the State accountable for ensuring equal rights of each citizen.

REAT Network is an independent network composed of 26 civil society organizations from the ten districts dedicated to promoting rights of religious minorities in Pakistan.

Krishan Sharma represented the REAT Network, affirming its vision of a peaceful, harmonious multi-faith nation as envisioned by the Founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Pir Aminul Hasnat Shah, State Minister of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, distributed awards of excellence to 15 Human Rights Defenders from all over Pakistan.

The REAT Network was established under TAF’s Human Rights Fund Programme funded by the government of the Netherlands.