September 18th, 2021
Pakistan has expressed disappointment at the ‘unwarranted and negative references to Pakistan’ in a resolution of the European Parliament on the situation in Afghanistan.
The European Parliament has asked Pakistan to use its influence on the Taliban government in Kabul to ensure security and stability in the war-torn country, asking the European Union to reconsider the South Asian country’s preferential trade status upon Islamabad’s failure to do so.
This is the second time this year that the European Parliament has warned Islamabad of a review of Pakistan’s eligibility for GSP plus status which will continue till 2022. In April, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) had adopted a resolution demanding Islamabad allow freedom for religious minorities and asked the EU to reconsider Pakistan’s GSP plus status.
“We have taken note of Resolution adopted by the European Parliament on the situation in Afghanistan. While the resolution does not relate to Pakistan, we are disappointed at the unwarranted and negative references to Pakistan,” Asim Iftkhar, spokesperson of Pakistan’s Foreign Office, said in response to media questions on the European Parliament’s September 16 resolution.
Iftikhar said the references to Pakistan in the resolution are not consistent with the cooperative relations between Pakistan and the European Union, adding that Pakistan has played and continued to play a constructive role in facilitating peace and stability in Afghanistan. “Pakistan’s key contribution towards the Doha peace process and subsequent Intra-Afghan Negotiations has been widely acknowledged by the international community,” he pointed out.
According to the resolution, the withdrawal of US and international forces from Afghanistan is a collective failure of Western foreign and security policy and strategy and serious lessons must be drawn for the future. The MEPs also pointed out that the failure could be a strategic advantage for non-Western powers and neighbouring countries, notably Pakistan, as well as China and, to a lesser extent, for Russia.
The Foreign Office spokesperson said Pakistan cannot be held responsible for the failure of the former Ashraf Ghani government, and its causes that were internal to Afghanistan. The opportunity offered by the Doha Peace Deal was unfortunately squandered, he added.
After Afghanistan, Pakistan itself has been the biggest victim of the decades of conflict in Afghanistan, the Foreign Office said. Besides, Pakistan has contributed immensely to the success of the international community’s fight against terrorism over the years.
“Of all the countries of the world, Pakistan has suffered the most – with over 80,000 casualties and more than 150 billion US dollars in economic losses,” Iftikhar said. “We continue to host over 4 million Afghan refugees, the world’s largest protracted refugee population. A peaceful and stable Afghanistan is therefore in the best interest of Pakistan,” he said.
“Recalls that for many years Pakistan provided safe havens for Taliban members, as well as assistance to their security forces; instructs the EEAS to convey to Pakistan’s leadership that it bears responsibility for security and stability in Afghanistan and that it must use its influence on the Taliban to achieve those aims, and to consider if there is reason to immediately review Pakistan’s eligibility for GSP+ status and the benefits that come with it in the light of current events,” reads clause 46 of the European Parliament resolution on the situation in Afghanistan.
Responding to the warning of a review of the GSP Plus, the Foreign Office spokesperson said the preferential trade status is a mutually beneficial undertaking. “Pakistan remains fully committed to the effective implementation of the 27 international conventions, implementation of which is the basis for according GSP Plus status. We are closely engaged with the European Commission in this regard,” Iftikhar said.