EU Parliament criticises worsening minority situation in Pakistan

Brussels (Belgium) : European Parliament, in its plenary session held on April 14, took Pakistan to task for the country’s abysmal human rights record with regard to treatment of the Christians and other minority communities.

The debate in the plenary session took place in the context of the recent attacks on the Christian community in Lahore on Easter day in 2016 that resulted in the killings of more than 70 individuals, including 30 children.

The MEPs criticised the dismal record of Pakistan in terms of minority protection, and viewed the Lahore attacks in the backdrop of innumerable previous instances of attacks on minorities in the country.

Josef Weidenholzer, a professor of social policy, said this was not the first time that Pakistan was being discussed in the European Parliament in the context of state of minorities in the country. Cristian Dan Preda, a Romanian political science professor, remarked that the recent attack on Christians in lahore showed a lack of tolerance when it comes to granting minorities a minimal freedom of speech in Pakistan.

The MEPs also called for the removal of the controversial blasphemy laws in Pakistan and called for the release of Asia Bibi. Michaela Å ojdrova, a member of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), said that Asia Bibi faced persecution for professing her right to free faith.

The MEPs called upon the European Union to ensure the protection of human rights of the minorities and other vulnerable groups in Pakistan. Alberto Cirio also of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) stated that EU must defend human rights in Pakistan, and as part of this must also show its concern towards the struggles of the people of Baluchistan and urged the International Government to pressure Pakistan to stop supporting terrorism.

Marie Christine Vergiat, a community organizations’ activist and a French politician, also stated that the Pakistan government supported terror groups, and called upon the EU to exert pressure on Pakistan by using the GSP agreements.

The MEPs came down heavily on the Pakistani government for failing to provide adequate security to minorities in the country, and for the constant attacks on minorities time and again.

Dan Belder stated that the discourse of hate in Pakistani schoolbook against minorities must be removed immediately. Islamic schools mushroom hated against Minorities, so the EU must monitor aid to Pakistani education system. Belder further said that government of Pakistan had failed to provide adequate security to minorities.

Charles Tannock, a British politician, psychiatrist, and Member of the European Parliament for London for the Conservative Party, categorically stated: “We have debated religious extremism in Pakistan for some time now and I do hope there is now a will in this country for some change.” (ANI)