The European Parliament passed a resolution to review the GSP Plus status granted to Pakistan. The EU Parliament has called on the Commission and the European External Action Service to immediately review the eligibility of Pakistan’s GSP status.
The resolution was co-sponsored by Charlie Weimers, a member of the European Parliament from Sweden, who wrote on Twitter, “Should Europe reward Pakistan’s mob justice targeting Christians and it’s Prime Minister relativizing the holocaust? My answer is no.”
— Charlie Weimers MEP 🇸🇪 (@weimers) April 29, 2021
He said in his remarks that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, instead of protecting the human rights of his citizens from the accusers, termed the denial of Holocaust and genocide as tantamount to criticizing the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
It is pertinent to mention here that Prime Minister Imran Khan equated insulting Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with Holocaust denial and said on Twitter, “I also call on Western govts who have outlawed any negative comment on the holocaust to use the same standards to penalise those deliberately spreading their message of hate against Muslims by abusing our Prophet PBUH.”
I also call on Western govts who have outlawed any negative comment on the holocaust to use the same standards to penalise those deliberately spreading their message of hate against Muslims by abusing our Prophet PBUH.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) April 17, 2021
The resolution expressed special concern over the trial of Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emanuel, a married couple who were sentenced to death in 2014 for blasphemy and insulting the Prophet of Islam. That insulting text messages were sent from the register number of the accused in reference to the Holy Prophet.
He said that the evidence against the couple was flawed and it was noteworthy that there was a recurrence between the accused and the married couple shortly before the allegations were made.
According to the resolution, the appeal against the death sentence of the couple is pending in court. According to the resolution, the hearing of the appeal was to be held in 2020, 6 years after the sentencing, but it has been postponed several times and most recently on February 15, 2021.
According to the resolution, the situation in Pakistan continued to deteriorate in 2020 as the government continued to systematically enforce blasphemy laws and failed to protect religious minorities from abuses by non-state actors, resulting in Targeted killings of religious minorities, cases of blasphemy, forced conversions and hate speech increased sharply.
The text of the resolution called on the Government of Pakistan to condemn indiscriminately the violence and discrimination against religious minorities in the country and to implement effective, comprehensive and institutional safeguards to prevent the misuse of blasphemy laws. In this regard, it was also demanded that the government should make it mandatory that no police officer below the rank of Superintendent of Police can investigate the allegations before filing a case.
Concerns were also raised about the growing number of online and offline attacks on journalists and civil society organizations, especially women and people from the underprivileged, he said. False accusations of blasphemy often include physical violence, assault, murder, unlawful arrest and detention.
The resolution also called on the Pakistani government to take immediate steps to ensure the protection of journalists, human rights defenders and religious organizations and to bring the perpetrators to justice while maintaining the rule of law.
The text states that in its latest review of Pakistan’s GSP Plus status on February 10, 2020, the Commission had raised a number of concerns and reservations about the human rights situation in the country, particularly the death penalty.
However, the resolution welcomed the recent decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to ban the death penalty for mentally ill patients and called on the Pakistani authorities to impose the death penalty on all such individuals.
The resolution, citing recent violent protests said that the European Parliament considers the violent protests against France unacceptable and they are deeply concerned about the anti-French sentiments in Pakistan as it has forced French citizens and companies to leave the country temporarily.