EU Resolution and holistic strategies for Pakistan | By Dr Mehmood-ul-Hassan Khan

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EU Resolution and holistic strategies for Pakistan


EVERY country has its own “valid” reasons to wards national security, sovereignty and last but not least, political system.

However, the same should not be “contradictory” to any international treaty and protocol pertaining to basic human rights, rights of minorities, social discrimination and above all economic marginalization and Pakistan is not any exception.

Twisting of basic facts, political manipulation, economic discrimination and media propaganda has been one the key instrument of the Western “colonialism” and modern “imperialism” for centuries.

Most recently, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a “non-binding” resolution stressing for a review of trade relations with Pakistan and ending its eligibility for the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) status which may cause approximately US$2-3 billion economic loss to Pakistan per annum.

It may also reduce Pakistan’s exports to EU especially in textiles, garments and sport commodities.

Unfortunately, it has religious “sugar-coating” which seems to have ill intentions on part of the EP.

In this context, the said EP resolution correlated the review to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, in particular the case of Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel, who have been on death row since 2014 for sending ‘blasphemous’ text messages a charge they deny.

It seems not to be a “rational decision” making on part of the EU to conditionally attach an administrative decision with a pure religious matter, which has “extreme” importance in Pakistan because of religious “devotion” and “obligation” towards the last “Prophecy”.

On its part, most recently, various European countries mainly the governments of France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and others have “promulgated” so-called administrative decrees and laws against its Muslim communities which have dangerous socio-economic-politico consequences.

Genie of Islamophobia has spread like a cancer in the societies of so called civilized Europe which is also indulged into the whims & wishes of “White-Many supremacy” doctrine.

The Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) to Pakistan was not granted on the basis of religion, faith, color, creed and creed. Thus European parliament should reconsider its decision.

The foreign ministry of Pakistan released a statement showing its “disappointment” at the European resolution which reflected a lack of understanding in the context of blasphemy laws and associated religious sensitivities in Pakistan and in the wider Muslim world.

Moreover, it fears that the EU Parliament Reactive Diplomacy (RD) on such a sensitive issue may hearten the sentiments of the Muslim community at large.

Nevertheless, EU’s non-binding resolution is a written motion adopted by a deliberative body that cannot progress into a law.

The said resolution comprises of some important clauses mainly F. Whereas, despite the very recent ban on the extremist religious party Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), the Pakistani Minister of the Interior announced on 20 April 2021 that a resolution on the expulsion of the French ambassador to Pakistan would be presented to the National Assembly, even though Prime Minister Imran Khan had spoken out the day before against this removal.

On its part, the government of Pakistan since 01 January 2014 Pakistan benefits from generous tariff preferences under the so-called EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+), under the condition that Pakistan effectively implements 27 core international conventions, including human rights conventions’’

Since the EU has collective trade policy which needs to be “reframed” “repositioned” because of the current resolution of the EP about Pakistan.

Instead of “disseminating” Mexican ways of religious hatred, bigotry, discrimination and last but not least, Islamophobia EU should follow its trade and external policies to protect its economic interests in which its political, geostrategic, developmental, environmental, and principles-based objectives should not be overshadowed to mere religious orientation.

Generally speaking, the GSP+ award is concomitant with effective implementation of international conventions on human and labour rights, governance and environment protection which has been ratified in its true letter & spirits by Pakistan.

Linkage of trade incentives with the conventions is aimed to promote sustainable development and good governance by utilizing enhanced export opportunities.

The opportunities and obligations deriving from the EU’s engagement with Pakistan in GSP+ form an integral part of EU-Pakistan relations.

Furthermore, the new EU-Pakistan Strategic Engagement Plan (SEP), signed on 25 June 2019, provides an overall framework of bilateral engagement and prominently addresses GSP+ in the chapters of Democracy, Rule of Law, Good Governance, and Human Rights, as well as Trade and Investment, demonstrating the crosscutting relevance of the scheme On 18 February 2021, the European Commission set out its new trade strategy for the coming years.

Reflecting the concept of ‘Open Strategic Autonomy’, it builds on the EU’s openness to contribute to the economic recovery by supporting the green and digital transformations.

The strategy includes a renewed focus on strengthening multilateralism and reforming global trade rules to ensure that they are fair and sustainable.

The EU is a major player in the global T&C trade the largest importer with a share of 22 per cent and the second largest exporter with 25 per cent share in the exports.

Pakistan is amongst the top ten exporters of the T&C in the global market. The textiles industry is a key sector for Pakistan’s economy.

It contributes 25 per cent to industrial value-added and provides employment to about 40 per cent of the industrial labour force.

Although the European Commission and EU member States may have strong geopolitical reasons behind this move against Pakistan, nonetheless, geopolitical concerns have no place in GSP+ process. The regulations governing GSP+ process do not allow for such geopolitical concerns.

The adoption of resolution by the EU parliament shows the mindset of the EU countries, but it is not binding on the authorities to consider reviewing GSP Plus facility.

Resolution can only come when the EU engages more fully with transnational law. In the post-Covid 19 global order, such kind of proposed economic sanctions cannot be imposed on the basis of religious discrimination.

Being prominent regional geopolitical expert I suggest rigorous commercial diplomacy, meaningful diplomatic engagements, outreach to OIC, Arab League, NAM and other international forums to secure a strategic cushion against this irrational resolution of the European Parliament against Pakistan.

There is an urgent need to overall haul foreign ministry and its world-wide embassies mechanism to transform it hub of connectivity, investments, joint ventures, professionalism, people & business friendly services and soft image projection of Pakistan in foreign lands from coming out of their deep sleeps of fairy lands.

The time has come to rectify some valid administrative flaws in blasphemy laws of the land so that no innocent may be in difficult propositions.

Role of genuine clergy is paramount which should be pursued on the model of interfaith harmony instead of self-inserted notions towards minorities.

There is an urgent need to regularize madrasah reforms for the greater socio-economic, geopolitical and geostrategic stability and harmony in the country.

To conclude, the EU should also rethink its so called “Freedom of Speech” doctrine which is creating new “continents” of hatred, disharmony and disrespect.

—The writer is Director, Geopolitics/Economics Member Board of Experts, CGSS.

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