ISLAMABAD: Britain outrightly rejected Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's plea to re-look at his country from the perspective of a "promising emerging market full of opportunities", Asian Lite International reported.
He appealed to the world on the same day when Britain announced sanctions against a Muslim cleric Maulana Abdul Haq alias Mian Mithu for forced conversion of non-Muslims in Pakistan's Sindh province. Bilawal raised the pitch for his country in Singapore, seeking improved economic ties. Analysts noted that Bhutto-Zardari's plea came during his meetings with Singapore President Halimah Yacob, a woman and a Muslim, and his counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, an ethnic Tamil.
Bilawal, who went to Singapore on December 9, met Singapore President Halimah Yacob on Saturday and raised the pitch for his country, seeking improved economic ties. At the same time, when Bilawal was asking the world to relook at his country, the United Kingdom sanctioned a Muslim cleric, Maulana Abdul Haq alias Mian Mithu for forced conversion of non-Muslims in Pakistan's Sindh province.
A Pakistan People's Party lawmaker between 2008 and 2013, Mithu was expelled by the party after he became controversial over the forced conversion and marriage of Rinkle Kumari, a girl from the minority Hindu community, reported Asian Lite International.
Earlier, on Friday, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly announced a new list of sanctions including Mian Abdul Haq of the Bharchundi Sharif shrine in Ghotki, Sindh, to mark International Anti-Corruption Day and Human Rights Day. The package includes individuals and entities involved in a wide range of grievous activities - including the torture of prisoners, the mobilisation of troops to rape civilians, and systematic atrocities.
"It is our duty to promote free and open societies around the world," said Cleverly. "Today our sanctions go further to expose those behind the heinous violations of our most fundamental rights to the account. We are committed to using every lever at our disposal to secure a future of freedom over fear," he said.
Haq, who is a cleric and politician, is a locally influential figure in the Sindh region of Pakistan and has been criticised over the years for the forced conversion of minorities, mostly Hindus, in the province. "Mian Abdul Haq, a Muslim cleric of the Bharchundi Sharif shrine in Ghotki, Sindh, who is responsible for forced marriages and forced religious conversions of non-Muslims and minors," UK sanctions list reads.
Sanctions impose an asset freeze and travel ban on individuals and entities and prevent any UK citizen, or any business in the UK, from dealing with any funds or economic resources which are owned, held or controlled by the designated person. Other countries covered in the latest wave of sanctions include Russia, Uganda, Myanmar and Iran.
The sanctions effectively mean that designated individuals will be unable to do any business or undertake the economic activity with UK citizens or companies and that they will be denied entry to the UK, according to Asian Lite International.
Meanwhile, the Hindu community of Sindh and human rights bodies have frequently accused Mithu of committing crimes against children for years by kidnapping and forcefully marrying them to Muslim men. They have charged that his activities are publicly known and that the Pakistani state has been 'complicit in his crimes'.