Islamabad - The constitution of Pakistan guarantees fundamental human rights and the present government attaches great importance to implementation of all relevant laws and regulations which provide safeguards to these rights.

This was stated by Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar while talking to Stavros Lambrinidis, European Union Special Representative for Human Rights and Lanrs-Gunnar Wigemark-EU Ambassador who called on him here on Tuesday.

At the outset of the meeting, the minister talked about his visit to USA and China where he had fruitful discussion on funding and investment in various projects in Pakistan. He said the government had a clear agenda for economic reforms and development and would follow it despite impediments such as the sit-ins which had caused economic losses worth millions of dollars.

Talking of measures for people’s welfare, Finance Minister said that allocation under the National Income Support Programme had been enhanced from 33 billion rupees in FY12-13 to 118 billion rupees in FY14-15 with beneficiaries expected to increase to over 5 million in the current financial year. The government intended to bring the fiscal deficit down to 4.7% and enhance the tax-to-GDP ratio to at least 15% in future, he said. The federal government was according due attention to health and education despite the fact that these subjects had been devolved to the provinces after 18th amendment. The government had a target to allocate at least 4% of GDP as the share for education, the minister said. PSDP had been increased from Rs.441 billion during 2013-14 to Rs.525 billion in 2014-15. Ishaq Dar also expressed gratitude over enhancement of EU assistance to Pakistan.

Finance Minister Dar apprised Stavros about the electoral reforms being undertaken by a special parliamentary committee which had just held its 9th meeting. The Committee, he said, aimed at improving the electoral system by taking cognizance of all relevant electoral laws, constitutional provisions as well as ensuring technological support to the ECP. The Committee was reviewing 1283 proposals received from the general public, parliamentarians, think tanks, NGOs and other stakeholders to prepare a report for consideration of the national legislature. Ishaq Dar said the recommendations that EU had made would also be given due consideration.

Lars-Gunnar Wigemark commented that the reforms process was really praiseworthy and they would extend support for improvement in the system both in terms of hardware and software provision.

Stavros went on to say the EU would extend all possible support to Pakistan in the field of human rights as well as economy. The GSP Plus status accorded to Pakistan was an expression of EU’s desire to see a surge in its economy. He said Pakistan had undertaken useful legislation regarding women’s rights and education, which was a commendable effort. He however added that establishment of Human Rights Commission and formulation of an action plan on human rights would be greatly befitting.

Dar said Pakistan expected the textile sector to make the most of the GSP Plus status. Indeed award of GSP plus status had helped our economic cause, he said, adding that Pakistan was grateful to EU for awarding her this status.

Stavros expressed concern over the implementation of moratorium on death penalty. Dar said the issue of capital punishment had many aspects to be taken care of. Every country had its own peculiar social and political milieu and needed specific laws to maintain law and order. Pakistan was right now in the midst of a full fledged action against militants and stringent measures were needed to meet the challenge of extremism. While human rights sanctity was of supreme importance, it was also important that those who violated human rights should be strictly dealt with.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar had a meeting with Ambassador Daniel Feldman, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan here. Finance Minister had detailed discussion with Feldman on the follow up plan for the meetings held during his visit to Washington.

Both sides expressed satisfaction over the successful holding of the US-Pakistan Economic Working group meeting. They also appreciated holding of the first Business Opportunities Conference at Washington and observed that it had contributed tremendously in creating awareness among notable US companies and prospective investors about the Diamer - Basha project and its funding requirements. The two sided also had consensus on organizing the next conference focusing on trade at Islamabad early next year.

A large number of businessmen, investors and traders would be invited to the conference.

There was also detailed discussion on Finance Minister’s meeting with USTR, Michael Froman in Washington. Ishaq Dar re-affirmed that US-Pakistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) was the key vehicle for promoting American investments here. He said the government’s principle was to promote trade rather than aid and it hoped to work with the US towards enhanced market access.

US Ambassador to Pakistan, Richard G. Olson, US Deputy Special Representative, Jonathan Carpenter, Economic Counsellor US Embassy, Daniela Ballard, Foreign Secretary, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and Additional Secretary (External Finance) Shahid Mehmood also attended the meeting.