ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the European Union have decided to cooperate in tackling the terrorist organisations as part of the strategic partnership.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday urged the European Union to highlight the human rights violations in the Indian Held Kashmir (IHK). Frederica Morgherini, European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, called on Prime Minister Imran Khan here. The prime minister apprised the EU representative of the current regional situation, including Pakistan’s positive role in Afghan reconciliation, peace process and deescalating tensions with India.
Imran Khan also gave an overview of his reform agenda covering good governance, eradication of corruption, rule of law and poverty alleviation. Welcoming the EU representative, the prime minister said Pakistan values its relations with the European Union and all its member states. He expressed satisfaction on the positive momentum in the relations and termed the EU Pakistan’s major trade and investment partner. He welcomed the increase in Pakistan-EU bilateral trade since the inception of GSP Plus scheme.
The EU high representative praised the prime minister for his handling of the situation after the Pulwama incident. She assured of EU’s support towards the prime minister’s reform agenda which coincides with the EU’s core principles and values.
Meanwhile, Federica Mogherini called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the General Headquarters.
According to an ISPR press release, during the meeting, matters of mutual interest and overall regional security situation were discussed. The visiting dignitary appreciated Pakistan’s efforts and the positive role being played for regional peace and stability.
Meanwhile, Pakistan and the EU joined hands to condemn the rising threat of Islamophobia which threatens diversity, saying it was a threat to the European society as well, and especially in the EU which has a sizeable number of Muslims. Both sides also announced an agreement on a new strategic engagement plan which they will sign shortly.
"The strength of our societies lies in our diversity, and whoever attacks the diversity of our societies attacks the entire society, not just one segment of it. This is why for the European Union, institutions, for me personally, for all our member states, it is a priority to make sure that Islamophobia doesn't find any place in the European Union," Federica Mogherini told the media at the Foreign Office.
Together with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Mogherini was addressing a press conference following the fourth round of Strategic Dialogue between Pakistan and the EU, which Mogherini said will lay a strong foundation for partnership between Pakistan and the European Union and further boost their future cooperation.
Both of them paid tributes to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for her response to the recent Christchurch terror attack. Qureshi said that Ardern had shown the world that there was a different way of dealing with Islamophobia and demonstrated how societies could gel together at such a time.
Qureshi expressed great concern over the rising trend of Islamophobia and said that it should be a cause of worry for the EU as well since the bloc houses a sizeable number of Muslims.
Qureshi also spoke about the recent emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers after the Christchurch attack, where he had presented a comprehensive plan to tackle Islamophobia across the world.
“Today, I would like to announce that Pakistan and the EU have agreed on a new strategic engagement plan. This immense achievement comes after some tedious negotiations and, once further due process is completed, I will be heading Brussels to sign the agreement,” said Qureshi
This strategic engagement plan will see agreements in different fields which could lead to economic development in Pakistan as it centres on investment, trade and energy.
Qureshi pointed to trade between Pakistan and the European Union which he said had doubled after grant of GSP Plus status to Pakistan in 2013. He said the present government is keen to enhance exports to Europe and fix the trade deficit issue, besides creating more jobs for Pakistanis through trade with Europe.
Mogherini was supportive of Pakistan’s progress towards democratic stability and the government’s reform agenda. “We had very fruitful negotiations on a variety of topics. Our cooperation is very important for both parties, as evident by the fact that Pakistan-EU trade has doubled over recent years thanks to the preferential access agreement,” said Mogherini.
Qureshi said that he had updated the EU diplomat on the latest situation in the region with Pakistan very much open to engage with India to resolve all outstanding disputes through a sustained dialogue. Qureshi said both the sides are also convinced on it that solution lies only in dialogue, ruling out war between two nuclear armed nations.
Mogherini appreciated Pakistan's stance on de-escalating tension with India and crack down of the Pakistani security forces against the terrorists and said that the EU fully supports Pakistan in its drive against the terrorists.
On Afghanistan, Mogherini said there was a convergence of beliefs between the two sides on Afghanistan and they agreed that there was no military solution and the EU appreciated various steps taken by Pakistan for the continuing Afghan reconciliation process.
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