Fri, 29 May 2020

Withdraw Pakistan's GSP plus status: EICC

15 Sep 2019, 05:55 GMT+10

New Delhi [India], Sept 15 (ANI): The Europe India Chamber of Commerce (EICC) has written a letter to the EU Commissioner for Trade, European Commission, Cecilia Malmstrom, calling to immediately withdraw Generalised System Preferences (GSP) plus status to Pakistan, over the country's continued religious persecution of Sikhs, Hindus and Christians in the country.

In the letter dated September 12, the EICC highlighted cases pertaining to forced conversion of girls from the minority communities.

"Madam Commissioner, we are deeply concerned that the Pakistani state is indulging in systematic genocide against Christians, Sikhs and Hindus. The minority have experienced historical and current religious persecution and systematic violence in Pakistan. These have been occurring in the form of forced conversions, documented massacres, demolition and desecration of churches and temples, as well as the destruction of educational centres," the letter read.

"Pakistani Christians, Hindus and Sikhs are powerless in front of courts, as the perpetrators get false age and marriage certificates from madrasas, and the courts do not verify the documents. Christians and other minorities are not only 'soft targets' for the militancy, but also victims of socio-economic and political exclusion in the country," it said.

The issue of withdrawing GSP to Pakistan was raised by the Members of European Parliament (MEPs) during a meeting of the European Parliament Sub-Committee on Human Rights (DROI) on September 9 in Brussels.

"One MEP even asked the logic of continuing the GSP plus status to Pakistan and questioned the moral obligation on this privilege when the European Parliament in the recent past held three resolutions passed on the human rights situation in Pakistan," the EICC said.

"In the past, the EU has suspended trade privileges with countries involved in human rights violations, such as Sri Lanka (now restored). In addition, the EU has restricted imports of products whose production is related to human rights in the case of conflict," the letter read.

The EICC said that no country which is engaged in perpetual violence against religious minorities and the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities has no right to receive any special trade privilege from the EU.

It also slammed Pakistan for breaking its promise of ensuring equal rights to its minority communities.

"This also goes against the very ethos of European values, life and respect for minorities. The GSP was an instrument afforded to Pakistan with the hope, (and promises made by the country), that it shall improve its human rights record, but sadly it has failed again and again in its promises, and therefore the country must be denied this special trade status," the letter stated.

"It is time that the EU takes a tough stand to prevent deterioration of the human rights situation in the country and we call on the EU to immediately suspend GSP plus to Pakistan," it said. (ANI)

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