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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has expressed its disappointment at the adoption of a resolution at the European Parliament on blasphemy laws in the country, calling for a review of the GSP plus status granted to Islamabad in view of an “alarming” increase in the use of blasphemy accusations in the country. The EU parliament, in its session on April 29, adopted a resolution, “calling on the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to immediately review Pakistan’s eligibility for GSP plus status in the light of current events and whether there is sufficient reason to initiate a procedure for the temporary withdrawal of this status and the benefits that come with it, and to report to the European Parliament on this matter as soon as possible.” Responding to media queries about the EU Parliament resolution, Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri stated: “Pakistan is disappointed at the adoption of a resolution at the European Parliament on blasphemy laws in the country.” He said 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 is regrettable,” he added. He said that 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. “We are proud of our 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,” he added. Chaudhri said that 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, he added that 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.

“Pakistan and the EU 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. We would continue to remain positively engaged with the EU on all issues of mutual interest,” the spokesperson added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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