Pakistan expresses concern over EU Parliament’s resolution on blasphemy laws

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has expressed disappointed at the adoption of a resolution at the European Parliament on blasphemy laws in the country.

The Foreign Office issued a statement after the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for a review of Pakistan GSP+ status in view of an “alarming” increase in laws that it sees as discriminatory towards minorities and fundamental rights.

“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 spokesperson while responding to media queries.

The spokesperson said 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.

The statement added 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, 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,” he said.

He said 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. He added they would continue to remain positively engaged with the EU on all issues of mutual interest.

European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for a review of Pakistan GSP+ status. The resolution, presented by Renew Europe, a liberal, pro-European political group, was adopted unanimously with 681 Member of European Parliaments (MEPs) voting in favor of this resolution while 3 against it.

The European Parliament has adopted a resolution calling for a review of Pakistan GSP+ status in view of an “alarming” increase in laws that it sees as discriminatory towards minorities and fundamental rights.

The resolution also called on the Government of Pakistan to “unequivocally condemn” incitement to violence and discrimination against religious minorities in the country, and expresses deep concern at the prevailing anti-French sentiment in Pakistan.

The EU Parliament calls for a review of Pakistan’s eligibility for GSP+ status in the light of current events and whether there is sufficient reason to initiate a procedure for the temporary withdrawal of this status.

Member of European Parliament (MEP) Charlie Weimers of Sweden in his speech cited various incidents of members of religious minorities killed or imprisoned in Pakistan over accusations of blasphemy.