EU, Pakistan resolve to promote interfaith harmony, co-existence, protect freedoms

ISLAMABAD, Nov 4 (APP):The European Union and Pakistan Wednesday reaffirmed their resolve to further promote inter-faith harmony, religious tolerance and co-existence besides strengthening and protecting human rights as well as fundamental freedoms.

During the 5th round of EU-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue held through video conference, Foreign Minister Qureshi raised deep concerns over the resurgence of Islamophobic acts in some EU Member States that had hurt the sentiments of Muslims across the world, including in Pakistan, according to the joint press communique issued following the Dialogue.

From the EU side, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the EU and Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell raised deep concerns about recent terrorist acts in Europe with both the sides deploring the killing of innocent people.

During the dialogue, Foreign Minister Qureshi and High Representative Borrell discussed the growing momentum of the Pakistan-EU relations based on the Strategic Engagement Plan signed in June 2019.

They agreed to make efforts towards its comprehensive implementation in all areas of cooperation, including through strengthening of existing and new institutional engagements.

They reviewed the ongoing cooperation on security between Pakistan and the EU.  The EU appreciated the progress made by Pakistan towards the meaningful implementation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Action Plan as acknowledged by the FATF Plenary meeting held in October 2020 and encouraged Pakistan to complete the Action Plan.

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To further their engagement, both sides agreed to hold the first meeting of the new EU-Pakistan Security Dialogue in 2021, including on the fight against terrorism.

Foreign Minister Qureshi recognized the EU’s financial support of Euro 150 million to help address the COVID-19 pandemic in Pakistan. The EU appreciated Pakistan’s assistance in repatriation of stranded EU citizens due to flight disruptions.

Both sides discussed ways to further alleviate the social and economic consequences of the ongoing pandemic. In this context, they exchanged views on promoting international cooperation to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic and recognized the significance of international debt relief for developing countries.

The two sides expressed a strong political commitment towards the GSP+ preferential trade regime, through which the EU provides significantly reduced customs duties for countries that implement 27 international conventions related to human rights, labour rights, protection of the environment and good governance.

They agreed to utilise the GSP+ to its full potential, including by addressing the demand side contraction due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The High Representative raised concerns including on the death penalty and the misuse of the blasphemy law. He expressed appreciation for the intention to adopt the anti-torture bill.

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The EU informed about its New Pact on Migration and Asylum. The two sides agreed to work towards a comprehensive dialogue on migration and mobility, as envisaged under the Strategic Engagement Plan.
High Representative Borrell and Foreign Minister Qureshi also discussed ways to enhance their bilateral cooperation to address climate change.

High Representative Borrell and Foreign Minister Qureshi exchanged views on regional issues and agreed on a Joint Declaration on Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Qureshi apprised the EU about the recent developments in the region. He expressed Pakistan’s deep concerns about human rights violations by India in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and its attempts to change the demography of the disputed territory.

High Representative Borrell remarked that the EU was following the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir closely and underlined the need for restraint, de-escalation of tensions and resolution of the dispute through dialogue and constructive political and diplomatic engagement.

Foreign Minister Qureshi and High Representative Borrell exchanged views on other regional issues and reaffirmed their endeavor for promoting peace and prosperity through collaborative efforts.

The also agreed to further enhance Pakistan-EU mutual collaboration and engagement.