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Imran Khan govt decides not to compromise on blasphemy law despite EU Parliament's calls for review of Pak's GSP's status

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Islamabad | May 4, 2021 4:44:24 PM IST
The Pakistan government has decided that there would be no compromise on the country's controversial blasphemy law, days after the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for a review of Islamabad eligibility for the General Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) status in wake of an "alarming" increase in the use of blasphemy accusations in the country.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday chaired a meeting to review the EU Parliament's Thursday resolution that claimed that there has been an alarming increase in accusations of blasphemy online and offline in Pakistan over the past year, The Express Tribune reported.

The European Parliament, in its latest session on Thursday, adopted a resolution demanding Pakistan to allow space for religious freedom and urged the EU authorities to review GSP plus status for Pakistan amid the increasing number of blasphemy cases.

Pakistan has expressed disappointment over the adoption of the resolution by the EU.

According to sources, the meeting on Monday decided not to compromise on the blasphemy law as well as the law declaring Ahmadi community non-Muslim. The meeting was told that Pakistan's agreement with the EU did not include any condition with regard to religion.

Pakistan had made a total of eight agreements with the EU on various human rights issues including human freedom, enforced disappearances, women rights and minority rights.

The meeting was told that the country would suffer an annual loss of $3billion if the EU revokes its GSP+ status.

In January 2014, the EU granted Pakistan status under its flagship trading scheme, the General Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+).

The GSP+ provides enhanced and preferential free trade between the EU and a small list of countries that are meant to be among those developing countries with the best human rights records.

According to the October 2019 report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, at least 80 people have been convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan and many of them face the death penalty.

In December 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution calling the worldwide repeal of blasphemy, heresy and apostasy laws, some of which have resulted in the imprisonment and/or deaths of Christians accused of speaking against Islam.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws, both in content and application, are contrary to Pakistan's human rights obligations to respect and protect the right to life, freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief, freedom of opinion and expression, equality before the law, prohibition of discrimination and the right to life. (ANI)

 
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