In a severe indictment of Pakistan’s poor human rights record, the European Parliament on Thursday passed a resolution condemning Islamabad for showing scant regard for human rights and the rule of law.
The Resolution also slammed Pakistan for breaching international law by not allowing consular access to former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been sentenced to death for “espionage”.
The resolution, which was adopted by majority, expressed grave concern over the "roll-back in Pakistan of the respect for human rights and the rule of law", in particular the freedom granted to security forces, the use of military courts, the crackdown on NGOs, the intimidation of human rights defenders and religious minorities, and the increase in extrajudicial killings.
Expressing "deep concern at the alarming rate of executions in Pakistan following flawed trials, including of minors and persons with mental disabilities, some of which are carried out while appeals are still under way", it urged the Pakistani government to prevent misuse of the "blasphemy law", which is so vaguely defined as to render it open to abuse, including to target political dissidents.
It highlighted the case of Jadhav who was sentenced to death in April 2017 by a military court without any access to consular services which is in breach of international law.
Speaking during the debate in plenary in the French city of Strasbourg, British Member of the European Parliament Neena Gill, said: "In 2014, the EU allowed Pakistan to access GSP+, an exceptional tool to help kick-start the economy and - crucially - encourage progress on improving human rights. It has proved its value in many countries. But I question whether this is the case for Pakistan."
A delegation of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee visited Pakistan in April.
"From our meetings with government officials and civil society it became glaringly clear that a lack of rule of law permeates Pakistani society and human rights are violated instead of advanced," said Gill, the only MEP of Indian origin.
"In March, military courts that can try civilians were reinstated for 2 more years. Basic rights of foreigners brought to trial are trampled on. With no access to consular rights. People who work for NGOs face harassment, arrest or worse - death," she added.
"It is high time to see real progress on human rights and strengthening of the civil judiciary in Pakistan.If not, GSP+ has to be reviewed," she stressed.
(With IANS inputs)