FO rubbishes 'baseless' Indian claims about EU Parliament withdrawing Pakistan's GSP+ status

Published July 28, 2021
In this file photo, security guards stand outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad. — AFP/File
In this file photo, security guards stand outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad. — AFP/File

The Foreign Office (FO) has rubbished Indian media's claims that Pakistan's Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) status was being withdrawn, calling such reports "fabricated" and a continuation of New Delhi's "malicious propaganda" against Islamabad.

While the FO statement did not name the specific media report it was referring to, the rebuttal comes after Indian news agency ANI reported on July 26 that the European Parliament had moved to withdraw Pakistan's GSP+ status over "abuse of blasphemy laws".

In response, FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudri, in a statement issued late on Tuesday, said that the news item was "fabricated and a continuation of the India’s malicious propaganda against Pakistan".

"India’s malicious smear campaign against Pakistan is well-known and independent organisations, including EU DisinfoLab, have established India’s credentials as [a] purveyor of anti-Pakistan propaganda globally," he said.

Read: Indian network lobbying against Pakistan exposed

He said that the Indian state and "obliging" Indian media remained busy "concocting baseless stories against Pakistan" despite the unearthing of India's disinformation campaign.

"The recent rumours are yet another demonstration of India’s nefarious designs," he said.

The spokesman said that Pakistan and the European Union maintain close high-level engagement through multiple dialogue mechanisms, adding that the country remains committed to the full implementation of the 27 international conventions related to the preferential trade regime.

"Pakistan has successfully completed three biennial reviews of GSP+ and the fourth biennial review is currently under way.

"Currently, the European parliament is on summer recess till autumn and there has been no discussion on Pakistan since April," the FO spokesman concluded.

The GSP+ is a special trading arrangement that provides developing countries preferential access to European markets by slashing tariffs to zero on most products.

The countries benefiting from the scheme have to implement 27 international conventions related to human rights, labour rights, protection of the environment and good governance.

Pakistan, which has ratified all 27 conventions, has been benefiting from the GSP+ status since January 2014. Its GSP+ status was extended for another two years in March 2020.

However, the European Parliament in April adopted a resolution calling for a review of the GSP+ status granted to Pakistan in view of an "alarming" increase in the use of blasphemy accusations in the country as well as rising number of online and offline attacks on journalists and civil society organisations.

The resolution also called on the government to "unequivocally condemn" incitement to violence and discrimination against religious minorities in the country.

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