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coronavirus
Coronavirus
VERY HIGH
Source: covid.gov.pk
Pakistan Deaths
29,019
724hr
Pakistan Cases
1,328,487
4,34024hr
Sindh
502,500
Punjab
453,392
Balochistan
33,705
Islamabad
111,376
KPK
182,311

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Wednesday reassured Pakistan’s commitment to the European Union (EU) for effective implementation of the GSP-Plus related 27 international conventions and underscored that the facility had been mutually beneficial and played an important role in growth of trade between the two sides.

Qureshi stated this, during his address to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, at the invitation of its Chair MEP David McAllister, on Wednesday.

Underscoring the importance of trade and economic cooperation, Foreign Minister Qureshi underscored that the EU’s GSP Plus facility to Pakistan had been mutually beneficial and played an important role in growth of trade between the two sides.

“While the GSP Plus has supported our exports, we have introduced reforms to attract foreign direct investment to maximally utilise this facility. Pakistan offers an open and deregulated market with 100 percent equity ownership and repatriation of capital and dividends,” he said, adding that the country’s IT sector is brimming with talent.

Over the last five years, he pointed out that IT exports have increased by 151 percent. “The EU can benefit from Pakistan’s human resource in the IT sector to realise its goals of digitisation,” he asserted.

He said that Pakistan has recently established the Special Technological Zone Authority (STZA) with relaxed regulations and incentives that will create massive investment opportunities for domestic and foreign investors.

“Investments from the EU member states in Pakistan’s export promotion zones could create a win-win proposition. Continued cooperation in this arena would facilitate further nurturing economic and trade ties between Pakistan and the EU member states,” he added.

“We remain committed and closely engaged with the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) for the effective implementation of the GSP Plus related twenty-seven international conventions,” he said in the context of the recently adopted resolution by the EU Parliament on blasphemy laws in Pakistan, calling for reviewing Pakistan GSP Plus facility.

Expressing disappointment at the adoption of a resolution by the European Parliament on blasphemy laws in Pakistan, Qureshi emphasised the importance of understanding the special feelings and reverence Muslims have for the personality of the holy Prophet (PBUH).

“Freedom of expression could not be used to hurt religious feelings of others and willful provocation and incitement to hatred and violence must be universally outlawed,” Qureshi said.

He also stressed that xenophobia and Islamophobia were on the rise and Pakistan and the EU should work together for peaceful coexistence, and interfaith and cultural harmony.

About the steps on effective implementation of the GSP Plus related international conventions, he said that Pakistan has established Treaty Implementation Cells at the federal and provincial levels, which have a vital role in overseeing and facilitating the government machinery in implementation of these conventions.

He added that the Ministry of Human Rights is establishing a human rights management information system to strengthen data collection for treaty bodies and GSP Plus reporting.

New legislations have been introduced to strengthen the human rights regime in Pakistan, he said.

On May 6, he added that the federal cabinet approved the Journalist and Media Protection Bill and the Forced or Involuntary Disappearance Bill (criminal law amendment).

The Journalist and Media Protection Bill has been introduced in the National Assembly, he added.

He dilated upon various aspects of Pakistan-EU relations and regional and international developments, adding that the Pakistan-EU Strategic Engagement Plan (SEP) had ushered in a new phase in the partnership by providing a solid foundation and framework for multidimensional cooperation between the two sides.

Highlighting the enormous potential in further expanding Pakistan-EU ties in diverse spheres, he conveyed Pakistan’s readiness to continue to work for a productive and constructive partnership.

On Afghanistan, he said that peace and stability in Afghanistan are paramount for realising Pakistan’s vision of regional economic integration.

“Pakistan wishes to see an end to the Afghan conflict through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned negotiated political settlement,” he said, adding that Pakistan has played and continues to play a key role in facilitating the Afghan peace process.

He said that the current peace process is a historic opportunity and all Afghan parties should work constructively to secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive solution.

Qureshi also updated the participants about the situation in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, saying that the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains the single biggest obstacle in the way of building durable and lasting peace in South Asia.

Instead of responding positively to Pakistan’s overtures for peace, he added that India unilaterally and illegally moved to change the status of the IIOJK, which is a UN recognised disputed territory, and vitiated the environment.

“The onus was on India to create an enabling environment. Pakistan remains committed to the peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiri people,” he added.

Highlighting India’s disinformation campaign against Pakistan as unveiled by the EU Disinfolab, the foreign minister urged the EU not to allow the names of its institutions to be misused by third countries.

He also appreciated the EU’s support to Pakistan in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Chair of AFET, MEP David McAllister, in his remarks highlighted the importance of Pakistan-EU relations and the Parliament’s interest in further strengthening this partnership.

He thanked the foreign minister for his detailed exchange of views with AFET Committee.

Members of the AFET Committee and heads of delegations for relations with third countries and regions participated in the session.

The 71-member AFET Committee is one of the most prominent and influential Committees of the European Parliament.

It oversees and provides guidance to the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy and plays an important role in matters related to human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as finalisation of the EU’s international agreements.

Qureshi was joined by Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib, Chairman National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Malik Ehsan Ullah Tiwana, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Andleeb Abbas, Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice Maleeka Bokhari, Parliamentary Secretary for Human Rights Lal Chand Malhi, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, and senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The foreign minister’s address was followed by an exchange of views with the Members of European Parliament (MEPs) belonging to different political groups.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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