In a collective letter addressed to Imran Khan on 30th April, 51 Members of the European Parliament addressed their concern over the persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan and warned him that failure to prevent such incidents would result in the suspension of subsidies and trade preferences to the country.
The letter reportedly read that Pakistan had deviated from the original intentions of Muhammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Jinnah had reportedly wanted a country where the citizens would be treated equally regardless of their religion. But ever since the country adopted the Objectives Resolution in 1949, which declared the Constitution of Pakistan would be based on Islamic ideology, Muslims have always had the upper hand in the country.
As per reports, the letter to Imran Khan says that successive governments have ensured religious minorities would face political, economic and social discrimination as well as encouraging the growth of radical Islamic groups that would bring violence upon them. The reports of the letter come just after the United Nations listed Jaish chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.
Paradoxically, Pakistan is the only state that has declared Ahmadi Muslims as non-Muslims community. As a result, even they have faced religious persecution in a land that systematically supports Muslims.
The letter also draws attention to the Asia Bibi case, where a Christian woman was faced with blasphemy charges. The EU has said that the continued misuse of the Blasphemy laws and apathy to change them would imply that Pakistan was encouraging such persecutions.
Citing a report by Movement for Solidarity and Peace in Pakistan, the letter also brings up the issue of forced conversions. Reportedly, on average, over 1000 girls from Christian and Hindu communities have been kidnapped and forced to marry a Muslim every year.
The last concern raised by the letter was the rise of religious extremists groups that have unleashed their violence upon the minorities and their places of worship, with the support of the state of Pakistan.
As reported by ANI, the EU reminds Pakistan that the continued religious oppression of minorities violates the UN treaty of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which is the foundation of Internation Convent on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The EU warns Pakistan that unless an assurance is given that the country would effectively implement the Convention, all subsidies and trade preferences would be suspended.
The Members of Parliament have urged Pakistan to dismantle all constitutional and institutional structures that have resulted in the persecution of minorities if the country wishes to remain as a beneficiary of the European Union General Scheme of Preference Plus (GSP+). Abiding by the ICCPR is prerequisite for the GSP+ status.
It is also notable here that Pakistan has been put in the FATF grey list for its continued support to terrorist groups and failure to take strict measure against terrorist organisations based on its soil.