EU won’t take back Pak’s GSP Plus: Danish ambassador

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  • Ambassador Sorensen says Denmark working on stabilisation and development in Pakistan with funds amounting $ 65m, supports Pakistan’s fight against terrorism, however reiterates EU’s stance against death penalties

 

Denmark’s Ambassador in Pakistan Jesper Moller Sorensen has said that there is no impending possibility of revoking GSP Plus status of Pakistan in the wake of recent lifting of moratorium on executions by the government of Pakistan.

In an exclusive interview with Pakistan Today, the ambassador quelled the impression that European Union (EU) is contemplating to withdraw the status awarded to Pakistan.

“I don’t think anything like that is on the cards because there is no condition included in the signed documents of GSP Plus between Pakistan and EU which provides for repealing the status,” the ambassador said.

Denmark is an important part of 28 members EU which granted Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Plus to Pakistan in December 2013. The GSP Plus status allows almost 20 per cent of Pakistani exports to enter the EU market at zero tariff and 70 per cent at preferential rates.

However, the ambassador reiterated EU’s stance that giving death penalties to the human beings is a violation of human rights.

“We think that death penalty is not an answer to the terrorism issue and it has not been proven effective in countering this menace but having said I must make it very clear that we have no sympathy for the terrorists who are posing a serious threat to the people of Pakistan; we think that terrorism can be controlled even without giving death penalties,” the ambassador stressed.

To another question, he appreciated the recent resolve shown by the Pakistani government to combat terrorism in the country and also ensured that his country stands by Pakistan in its fight against terror.

“Pakistan has suffered more than any other nation in the world in the war against terrorism, Denmark supports Pakistan in its fight against terrorism and I welcome the determination shown by the Pakistani state and how its leadership has articulated its policy to fight terror; it is particularly important that representatives of the government have said that there cannot be any distinction between militant networks,” he added.

“My personal view is that people of Pakistan can only live in prosperity if terrorism is eliminated from the country and also if there is stability in the region,” the ambassador said.

Referring to his country’s support to Pakistan, the ambassador said, “We are working with Pakistan for its stability and development. Although we are not involved in any kind of military or security support to Pakistan yet we believe that by implementing our development programs in Pakistan, we are helping to create economic opportunities for the vulnerable people by keeping them away from joining terror network.”

“We are a small country having a population of 5.6 million which is almost equal to the population of Islamabad and Rawalpindi but we are running a big aid program in Pakistan with the Danish tax payers’ money. We have two major components of our interventions, stabilisation and development. For stabilisation we are spending $ 15 million and another $ 50 million for development programs. The second component focuses on enhanced democratisation, human rights and gender equality,” the ambassador explained the support of his nation to Pakistan.

“We are providing support to peace building, livelihoods and education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan through a Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) with a total budget of $ 15 million, which is administered by the World Bank and implemented by the provincial authorities. The MDTF program focuses on reconstruction and economic development in the areas bordering Afghanistan and will strengthen the writ of the state, thus emphasising its role as duty bearer,” he underlined the importance of his country’s support to Pakistan.

On a question regarding challenges being faced by both the countries in the area of economic cooperation, the ambassador said that Danish companies were working in many difficult areas of the world already. “Our companies were working in countries like Brazil, Russia and India. As far as Pakistan is concerned, security situation is a big concern for the Danish investors, but not all of Pakistan is in a security problem.”

“There are so many parts of Pakistan which are very peaceful and where investment can be done. That is what I have been telling the Danish companies. I think there is a huge business potential in Pakistan for Danish investors and we are here to facilitate it with the help of government of Pakistan,” the ambassador explained.

Currently, the volume of trade between Pakistan and Denmark amounts to $ 425 million which is heavily skewed in favour of Denmark but the ambassador played down the importance of balance of trade and said that it is more important that we increase this volume instead of worrying about in whose favour this balance is at the moment.

The ambassador also appreciated the services of people of Pakistani origin in Denmark saying, “We have a very sizeable Pakistani community in Denmark and they have integrated well into Danish system. They are working almost in all sectors of the economy and some of them have been even elected to the Danish Parliament. I have a friend, Nadeem Farooq, who is a Danish member of parliament having his roots in Pakistan.”