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May 1, 2021

GSP Plus status: European Parliament resolution reflects lack of understanding, says FO

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday said it was disappointed at the adoption of a resolution at the European Parliament on blasphemy laws in the country.

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

This was in reference to a resolution adopted in the European Parliament on Thursday which asks for a review of the country's GSP Plus status, citing an increase in laws that it sees as discriminatory towards minorities and fundamental rights.

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.

Those watching the situation say this is no surprise and Pakistan should have been prepared for this even though in its past report the EU had commended the work being done by the Ministry of Human Rights. Pakistan will have to at a very high level move quickly for some urgent damage control as if the EU withdraws the GPS+ status it would cripple the economy beyond repair.

“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,” said the Foreign Office.

It added that it was 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,” added the Foreign Office.

Instead, Pakistan says that with the EU it has have multiple mechanisms in place to discuss entire spectrum of bilateral relations, including a dedicated dialogue on democracy, rule of law, governance and human rights and it would continue to remain positively engaged with the EU on all issues of mutual interest.