51 members of European Parliament have signed an open letter addressing Prime Minister Imran Khan to put an end to the persecution of religious minorities in the country. The members warned that if Pakistan fails to protect its minorities and take action against religious extremists, it can lose subsidies and trade preferences being offered by the European Union (EU).
For Pakistan to continue to benefit from these, it is imperative to take significant steps to improve the situation of the repeatedly targetted religious minorities. The letter read
“Today’s Pakistan is far removed from being the country that its founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, had envisaged” – the letter read.
“Jinnah had always insisted that Pakistan would be a Muslim majority state were people from all religious, whether Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Ahmadis or Shias, would be treated equally.”
The letter held the previous and present government responsible for the rise of extremism and religious extremism in the country. The Commission concluded that Pakistani governments are not only responsible for the persecution of minorities, but has also been involved in encouraging the acts of violence.
“Over the last seven decades, the successive government in Pakistan have contributed to implemented 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 continued.
EU members said they want to remind Pakistan that its conduct in this particular regard is a violation of the United Nations treaty on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) – which the member countries have unanimously signed and committed to abide by.
“As members of the European Parliament, we would wish to remind the Islamic Republic of Pakistan that the oppression of religious minorities violated the United Nations treaty on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which is the foundation for the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a binding UN human rights agreement.
We would be compelled to suspend all subsidies and trade preferences until the effective implementation of the Convention could be assured by the Government of Pakistan” – the letter added.
Showing grave concern over the case of Asia Bibi, EU also condemned the prevalence of laws which are clearly discriminatory towards the religious minorities. Speaking of targeted persecution and forced conversions, EU members urged PM Imran Khan to address the issue holistically and at priority basis.
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