European Parliament Withdraws Pakistan’s GSP+ Status

Date:

European Parliament, in a resolution, decides to take off GSP+ status from Pakistan over Blasphemy laws.

In a joint resolution passed this Monday, the European Parliament decided that it would withdraw GSP+ status from Pakistan. The resolution comes after many countries condemned Pakistan on international levels due to the exploitation caused by its infamous blasphemy laws.

What is GSP+?

GSP stands for Generalised Scheme of Preferences, an initiative by the European Union to provide tariff incentives. GSP+ is somewhat like an advanced version of the scheme where developing countries benefitting from GSP get additional trade incentives.

The tariffs rate gets slashed upto 0% for promoting sustainable development in the lower and middle-income countries. In return, countries follow 27 core international conventions to keep their GSP+ status intact. The conventions are related to human and labour rights, good governance, environmental protection and others.

In the EU political report, Philippe Jeune mentioned that Pakistan had obliged to follow and implement these conventions. European Parliament noticed the global condemnation and asked about the status quo of the country’s GSP status.

The plan was to immediately review Pakistan’s eligibility for GSP+ status after a resolution was passed by joint motion on April 24. The Parliament decided to withdraw its status.EU finally Monday scrapped the status given to Pakistan, saying that Pak exploited citizens under the blasphemy laws. 

The blasphemy laws are a big part of Pakistan’s law enforcement. For people who aren’t aware of the word, blasphemy means the act of disrespecting or saying something sinful against one’s religion or God. The European Parliament already asked Pakistan to take a comprehensive approach over its blasphemy laws.

The request was the result of a former case where a Christian couple got accused of blasphemy. In 2013 the apex court sentenced them to be hanged even though it was made known in court that the couple were illiterate and the report was in English. After that, Pakistan suffered a lot of criticisms from many countries and the European Union.

The former case was not just one reported under Pakistan’s blasphemy law, but it is only the start. Several other issues are registered, and in each one of them, the court somehow proves the allegations even without proper evidence.

People hide under the laws to exploit anyone or prove their innocence from a significant crime. The religious scenario of Pakistan is worsening day by day, and the religious exploitation and violence happening there are visible to every country.

The EU Today reported one of the investigations of a US news agency describing how the Mullahs use their spiritual power to harass people sexually.

Mullahs are religious teachers of Islamswho teach children in madrassas or religious schools. The report stated that often these clerical teachers rape, sexually harass or physical abuse children. The parents of these children then have two options either to report the abuse or not. People don’t file any case in many scenarios because they know that the court would take no action against the “clerics teachers”. Instead, they would be treated as outcasts and even suffer from the wrath of the public.

If the case is filed by chance, blasphemy laws are invoked, and the accuser becomes the accused. None of the mullahs ever get convicted. The accuser, in return, is charged under blasphemy laws, and the people charged under these laws always end up with the death penalty.

“The existence of blasphemy laws empowers extremists to take laws into their hands and employ violence extrajudicially,” said the USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom) Vice Chairperson Tony Perkins referring to blasphemy laws. “In just one example . we have recently seen a devastating uptick in mob violence related to blasphemy allegations in Pakistan,” he added.

The decision by European Parliament has led to Pakistan’s law of GSP+ status, and the aftermath for Pakistan could be devastating as the EU is Pak’s second most important trading partner. The trade growth doubled between 2010-2020 after Pakistan got its GSP+ status in 2014. EU alone accounted for 14.3% of Pakistan’s total trade in 2020, and Pakistan made 28% of exports to the EU.

Pakistan may suffer a significant loss from the loss of GSP+ status, and the already troubled economy could have a considerable problem recovering itself from such loss amid the coronavirus outrage. It will be interesting to see what decision the Islamic country Premier takes to bring back the economy on its feet or if it will tremble down because of the loss.

Punita Sinha
Punita Sinha
Hi curious minds, my name is Punita Sinha. I'm pursuing an undergraduate degree in Economics Hons. from the University of Delhi (final year) with a minor in journalism. I consider myself an avid learner and observer. Writing has always been my passion whether it's prose, poetry or articles. And I think that to be the reason for my attraction towards journalism ever since my childhood. Journalism for me is something that can bring a big difference in society through words and as a writer, I believe in the power of words more than anything. So here I'm to use this opportunity and make a change by using this power.

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