Pakistan urged to fulfill human rights commitments under GSP+
A four-member European Union (EU) Parliamentary Delegation for South Asia Relations expressed has concern over Pakistan’s stagnant progress in fulfilling its human rights commitments under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus.
The delegation held separate meetings with Federal Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem and Attorney-General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan on Thursday, November 4, and voiced its concern regarding to religious extremism, abuse of blasphemy laws, forced religious conversions and violence against journalists.
Government officials however urged the EU delegation to not rescind Pakistan’s GSP+ eligibility as without it extremist elements would become proactive in the country.
The visit comes three months before the EU Parliament is scheduled to review Pakistan’s preferential trade status. Under GSP+, Pakistan earns around $7 billion in exports annually. In late April this year, the European Parliament adopted a resolution for a review of Pakistan’s GSP+ eligibility in lieu of its misuse of blasphemy laws. The resolution had linked the review to the case of Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar, who spent nearly eight years on death row under bogus blasphemy charges.
In September, the European Parliament urged Pakistan use its influence on the Taliban government in Kabul to ensure security and stability in the war-torn country, and once again requested the EU to reconsider its trade status should it fail to do so.
Pakistan to release TTP prisoners for ceasefire
The federal government has reportedly struck a deal with the proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), promising to release some of its prisoners per the terms of a temporary truce. According to various news sources, the TTP had demanded the release of five of its senior members, however the ones being released in the initial phase of this agreement are about a dozen or so foot soldiers.
Earlier in October, Prime Minister Imran Khan conceded to a Turkish news channel that the government was in talks with the TPP, and offered amnesty to militants of the banned outfit if they lay down their arms. However, the proscribed outfit rejected the offer, stating that their purpose is to enforce Shariah.
Following the Premier’s interview, the grieving parents of Army Public School students martyred by TTP militants in December 2014 vehemently objection to granting clemency to the group.
Widowers entitled to same employment opportunities as widows: LHC
The Lahore High Court declared Rule 17-A of the Punjab Civil Servants (Appointment and Condition) of Service Rules 1974 discriminatory and offensive to Articles 4 (right of individuals to be dealt with in accordance with law), 25 (equality of citizens) and 27 (safeguard against discrimination in service) of the Constitution of Pakistan, as it denies widowers the same opportunity of employment as widows of civil servants.
In the 33-page judgment penned by Justice Muhammad Shan Gul of the LHC Multan bench, the government was directed to bring about suitable amendments in the rule in order to bring it line with the constitutional mandate. The verdict was delivered during a hearing of a petition submitted by one Mustafa Siddique, who contended there was no legal warrant to deny the benefit afforded by this rule to a widower when the same rule was applicable in the case of a widow. Siddique’s deceased wife was a teacher at a secondary school.
The government however challenged the petition, stating that per the norms of Pakistani society, men are the primary breadwinners. Justice Gul, however, stated that this line of reasoning did not hold as Pakistan has twice been led by a female Prime Minister. He also called to attention the fact that at the time Rule 17-A was introduced (1974), Pakistan did not have a Benazir Bhutto or a Malala.