US official to Discuss Protection Of Religious Minorities during visit to Pakistan


USA: January 21, 2011. (RTTNews) - United States Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights & Labor Michael Posner will visit Afghanistan and Pakistan

this weekend to discuss issues of concern in the public life of those countries, including protection of ethnic and religious minorities. During his visit to the two allied nations, Posner will also discuss with government officials and non-governmental organization representatives of both countries the importance of civil society, women's rights, the role of independent media and protection of labor rights. His visit comes in the wake of the controversy over Pakistan's blasphemy law, which even led to the assassination of a provincial Governor in that country. Posner told the Pakistani daily The Dawn in an interview ahead of the visit that the blasphemy law would be one of the subjects that he would discuss with Pakistani officials, Opposition leaders and civil society activists. Salman Taseer, Governor of Pakistan's eastern province of Punjab, was shot dead by one of his security guards in capital Islamabad earlier this month. The assassin told the police after surrendering that he killed Taseer for defending the proposed amendments to the harsh blasphemy law. A vocal critic of rising Islamist militancy in Punjab, Taseer had recently spoken out against the country's blasphemy law, under which a Christian woman was sentenced to death. Posner said Washington was "focused on possible discriminatory applications of the law."

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