THE EU should scrap Pakistan’s preferential trade status because of repeated human rights violations, a group of MEPs have said.
Pakistan was granted duty free access to the European market under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) in 2013.
But a group of MEPs have called for the status to be removed and Brussels has come under fire for plowing money into Pakistan which continues to persecute religious minorities and uses the death penalty as a punishment for blasphemy.
A report by the European Parliament Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance, said: “It is the Intergroup’s assessment that Pakistan is failing to effectively implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and failing to show intent to comply by continuing the death sentence for blasphemy, and should therefore have its GSP status revoked.”
Punishments range from fines, imprisonment and execution.
But despite the violation of the agreement, more than 76 per cent of Pakistan’s exports, including textiles and clothing, enter the EU duty and quota free.
And EU-Pakistan relations extend past trade, since 2009 the EU has sent Pakistan €535.7million in aid and is expected to send €20million by the end of 2016.
Co-chair of the group, MEP Denis de Jong said: “Regrettably, we observe that the EU, in its external actions, continuously compromises its human rights agenda in favour of a more economic and geopolitical agenda.”
Christians and Ahmadi Muslims often bear the brunt of the persecution in the Muslim country, which is the sixth most dangerous place in the world for Christians.
An estimated 700 Christian girls and women are abducted every year, and often then raped and forcibly married to Muslims with others burned to death after being accused of blasphemy.
The mother, who has been on death row since 2010, was accused of making derogatory comments about the Prophet Mohammed during an argument with a Muslim woman.
Advocacy charities have called on the EU to use its economic power to help safeguard minorities.
Open Doors UK, a Christian charity, said: “It is vital that Article 18 of the convention of Human Rights setting out freedom of religious belief is upheld across the world and particularly that influential organisations like the EU do everything they can to put pressure on countries that are not allowing their citizens this basic freedom.”