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Pakistan

Pakistan approves 'national action plan' on business and human rights

  • Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry says Pakistan is the first country in South Asia that has approved any such plan
  • Says aim is to end all sorts of discrimination at the workplace and ensure labour, health, and safety standards
Published September 28, 2021

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said on Tuesday that the federal cabinet has approved a 'national action plan' to ensure that "all businesses comply with human rights".

“Pakistan is the first country in Asia that has approved any such plan,” he said, addressing a press conference in Islamabad after the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari had earlier presented the plan to the federal cabinet.

In a tweet, after the press conference, she said that "today the Cabinet approved our Business & Human Rights Action Plan making Pakistan the first South Asian country to have this plan & the 3rd in Asia."

"The complete NAP is on our website," she wrote.

According to the plan, all businesses will have to comply with human rights, Fawad said, adding that the aim is to end all sorts of discrimination at the workplace, and ensure labour, health, and safety standards.

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He further said that the cabinet has expanded the e-visa application system to include more countries.

"The system is now available to 191 countries," he said. "Previously, the facility was only available to 50 countries.

"We want tourism and business activity to grow in Pakistan and this facility will help in this regard," the minister said.

Talking about the ongoing issue of electoral reforms, which has become a matter of hot debate between the government and the opposition, Fawad said discussion on the subject has to move forward.

"The government is ready to work with the opposition to find a solution."

However, he emphasised that electronic voting is the way forward to ensure transparency in elections.

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The information minister reiterated that offering the right to vote to overseas Pakistanis is going to be a central part of the electoral reforms.

“70 percent of the disputes happen after the voting has completed due to different reasons,” he said. “EVM offers a solution to all these issues.

"We have imported 20 machines from different private companies to start the process and we will be able to shift our elections to EVMs soon.”

He noted that the ruling party welcomes dialogue with the opposition on the issue, but this “dialogue should not be to waste or gain time”.

“This conversation should be to take the discussion forward and conclude the issue.”

Turning to the issue of the construction of high-rise buildings in Pakistan, he said that the cabinet has formed a committee to explore why these buildings are not built as quickly as they should be.

“The committee will share its findings with the cabinet in a week,” he said.

Talking about moon sightings from private entities, the minister said that the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee has banned this practice.

"Now only the announcements made by the government regarding Eid will be considered final," he said. "We will constitute provincial and district committees to implement the decision."

He said that the Pakistan Meteorological Department, SUPARCO, Ministry of Science and Technology, and Ministry of Religious Affairs have also been included in this process.

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