Commenting on the report by Aid to the Church in Need on Christian persecution, launched by Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Foreign Office Minister, Alistair Burt, said:
“We share the Cardinal’s concern about the plight of Christians facing persecution. Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right and we condemn and deplore religious persecution in any form.
“The effective promotion of human rights, including freedom of religion, is at the heart of our foreign policy. The Foreign Secretary has set up a new Advisory Group on Human Rights which identified religious freedom as a key human rights issue at its very first meeting in December.
“Britain raises concerns about religious freedom wherever they arise, including in Pakistan, through the intervention of Ministers or our Embassies and High Commissions. We lobby governments about individual cases where persecution or discrimination occurs, and call for changes in discriminatory practices and laws in countries where freedom of religion is curtailed.
“British aid helps the world’s poorest people, who would lose out twice over were we to withdraw it. The Development Secretary has made clear the pivotal role of the Christian church in tackling world poverty and last month launched a renewed drive to work more closely with faith communities.
“It is vital that Pakistan guarantees the rights of all its citizens, regardless of their faith or ethnicity. We will continue to press for religious freedoms to be upheld in Pakistan and around the world.”
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