Pakistan, EU reaffirm determination to protect religious freedom

ISLAMABAD:

Pakistan and the European Union (EU) on Wednesday reaffirmed their determination to protect human rights as well as fundamental freedoms, with an emphasis on freedom of religion, religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence, and minority rights.

The agreement was reached during a meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Vice-President of the European Commission (HR / VP) Josep Borrell during the 6th Round of the Strategic Dialogue European Union-Pakistan, said a statement released after the meeting.

During the meeting, FM Qureshi expressed his concerns over the growing trends of Islamophobic acts, xenophobia and religious intolerance around the world and the need for a joint resolution to counter them.

The EU official, on the other hand, raised concerns over the death penalty and the abuse of Pakistani blasphemy laws following the lynching of a Sri Lankan national in Sialkot on charges of crimes. allegations of blasphemy.

However, Borrell praised Pakistan for passing the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill and hoped that the Anti-Torture Bill and other human rights related laws would be passed soon. .

SPG-Plus Status

Qureshi and Borrell also expressed a strong political commitment to the GSP + and the implementation of 27 international conventions on human rights, labor rights, environmental protection and good governance that are linked to the treaty. commercial.

In addition, Qureshi and Borrell reviewed the ongoing cooperation between Pakistan and the EU on the basis of the Strategic Engagement Plan.

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“They agreed to further strengthen the EU-Pakistan mutual engagement, in particular on regional security and cooperation,” the statement said, adding that they also agreed to hold the first meeting of the “new EU-security dialogue. Pakistan with sub-groups on non-proliferation and disarmament, and counter-terrorism in 2022 ”, indicates the press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The EU official also welcomed the progress made by Pakistan in implementing the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) action plans to move out of the gray list and the ongoing efforts to achieve well the remaining actions.

The representative of the EU welcomed the continued cooperation with Pakistan on electoral issues. “High Representative Borrell briefed Foreign Minister Qureshi on the upcoming monitoring visit of the EU Election Observation Mission to Pakistan in 2018,” the statement said.

Climate change

During the meeting, issues related to climate change and the importance of global action to counter the threat were also discussed.

The two envoys also discussed the importance for developed countries to take the lead in mobilizing climate finance, noting the important role of public and private funds, and technology in facilitating the transition.

According to the statement, Borrell welcomed Pakistan’s statement ahead of the Glasgow conference of its nationally determined contribution to achieving common climate goals.

Afghanistan

The envoys from Pakistan and the EU agreed on the importance of maintaining a sustained engagement with Afghanistan to promote stability and combat narcotics as well as the threat of terrorism.

“They expressed deep concern at the potential for an economic collapse and a significant worsening of the humanitarian crisis and a new influx of refugees,” the statement said, adding that Afghanistan’s serious liquidity problems strained legitimate banking services.

“They also agreed on the need to continue providing urgent and unhindered humanitarian aid and basic social service support to the Afghan people,” he added.

Read more EU welcomes Pakistan’s progress on GSP-related conventions

The envoys stressed the importance “of improving the socio-economic situation and preserving human rights, especially those of women and girls, and persons belonging to minorities,” the statement added.

The envoys from Pakistan and the EU supported the dialogue between the Afghan parties to achieve national reconciliation and stressed the importance of an inclusive and representative government, to improve the prospects for security and stability.

The representative of the EU thanked Pakistan for its support in the evacuation of EU nationals and the safe passage of people from Afghanistan.

Qureshi expressed Pakistan’s support for the inclusion of the EU in the regional political consultation mechanism on Afghanistan.

Rights violations in Kashmir

During the meeting, Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s deep concerns over human rights violations by India in occupied Kashmir, and efforts to change the demographics of the disputed territory in violation of UNSC resolutions.

Borrell stressed that the EU is closely monitoring the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir. He reiterated the need to show restraint, defuse tensions and resolve the dispute through dialogue and constructive political and diplomatic engagement.

The EU envoy welcomed the February 2021 agreement between India and Pakistan for the observance of the ceasefire agreement on the line of control in Jammu and Kashmir and to engage through established mechanisms.


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