Pakistan to address EU’s reservations: sources

Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting of the federal cabinet. — PID/File

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to address the European Parliament’s reservations after the body had called for a review of Pakistan’s GSP Plus status, sources said Monday.

The development came after Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting comprising senior ministers of the cabinet. It was called in response to a resolution passed by the European Parliament a few days ago, calling for a review of Pakistan’s GSP Plus status.

The premier stressed the government would not compromise on the laws pertaining to the finality of the Prophethood, according to sources.

The participants, during the meeting, decided to address the reservations of the European Union. It was also unanimously decided that the protection of minorities in the country would be ensured.

The participants, according to sources, said the GSP Plus trade agreement has nothing to with blasphemy laws.

Last week, the European Parliament had adopted a resolution calling for a review of the GSP Plus status granted to Pakistan, saying that it has been observed that laws (that it said were discriminatory) towards minorities and fundamental rights, were on the rise.

The resolution was presented by Renew Europe, a liberal, pro-European political group of the European Parliament. It was adopted with a majority of 681 votes against six.

‘Resolution reflects lack of understanding’

Responding to the European Parliament’s resolution, the Foreign Office had expressed disappointment over the development.

“The discourse in the European Parliament reflects a lack of understanding in the context of blasphemy laws and associated religious sensitivities in Pakistan – and the wider Muslim world. The unwarranted commentary about Pakistan’s judicial system and domestic laws are regrettable,” read a statement by the FO.

“Pakistan is a parliamentary democracy with a vibrant civil society, free media and independent judiciary, which remains fully committed to the promotion and protection of human rights for all its citizens without discrimination,” the Foreign Office had added.

The FO had said Pakistan is proud of its minorities who enjoy equal rights and complete protection of fundamental freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution. Judicial and administrative mechanisms and remedies are in place to guard against any human rights violations.

“Pakistan has played an active role in promoting freedom of religion or belief, tolerance and inter-faith harmony. At a time of rising Islamophobia and populism, the international community must exhibit a common resolve to fight xenophobia, intolerance and incitement to violence based on religion or belief and work together to strengthen peaceful co-existence.”

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