EU lawmakers seek end to ‘persecution of religious minorities’ in Pakistan

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Over 50 members of the European Parliament, in a written letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, have expressed concern over the persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan.

The European parliamentarians reminded the premier that oppressing minorities is a violation of the United National treaty on Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

It further explained that ICCPR Convention is part of the 27 core conventions set out as a prerequisite criteria for the EU’s GSP-Plus status of which Pakistan is a beneficiary.

The letter added that continued violation of the ICCPR Convention may compel EU to call on the European Commission to suspend all subsidies and trade preferences to Pakistan.

“Today’s Pakistan is far removed from being the country that its founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, had envisaged. Jinnah had always insisted that Pakistan would be a Muslim majority State where people from all religions, whether Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Ahmadis or Shias, would be treated equally,” read the letter.

It said, “Over the last seven decades, successive governments in Pakistan have contributed to implementing discriminatory systems that have resulted in political, economic and social persecution of religious minorities, which have encouraged acts of violence against them by radical Islamic groups.”

The letter cited the case of Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who was sentenced to death row on blasphemy charges but was acquitted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2018.

The EU Parliament members urged Pakistan to take measures to dismantle the structures (constitutional and institutional) that resulted in the targeting of religious minorities in the country.