MEPs join condemnation of Pakistan's Blasphemy Laws - threaten suspension of subsidies and trade preferences

This week a cross-party group of 51 Members of the European Parliament issued a collective letter addressed to Imran Khan, Prime Minister of the islamic Republic of Pakistan, expressing their concerns and seeking assurances that the persecution of religious minorities would cease immediately. 

"Today’s Pakistan is far removed from being the country that its founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, had envisaged," the Deputies stated. 

"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. 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 specifically condemns Pakistan's Blasphemy Laws, citing the widely reported case of  Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who had been falsely charged, harassed and sentenced to death row due to the country’s Blasphemy Laws. In 2018 Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned the verdicts passed by the lower and high courts and set her free.

Should the violations of the International Covenant on Freedom of Religion continue, especially with regard to the persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan, the Members of the European Parliament having signed the letter, stated that they would be "compelled to call on the European Commission to suspend all subsidies and trade preferences until the effective implementation of the Convention could be assured by the Government of Pakistan."

Public opinion in Pakistan appears to be against the Laws: in a March 2014 poll 68% of Pakistanis said that they should be repealed.

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor and Brussels correspondent of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

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