Religious Persecution in Pakistan
UNPO Conference to emphasize need for EU, US to take robust action to address religious persecution in Pakistan.
Pakistan as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA): What now?
17 July 2019 | 10:00 - 11:00
Second Stage, Marvin Center, George Washington University
Continental Ballroom (3rd Floor), 800 21st St. NW, Washington, DC 20052
On 17 July 2019, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) will organize an event titled ‘Pakistan as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA): What now?’ at the Second Stage of the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, in Washington D.C. The event will bring together policymakers, advocates and representatives of religious minorities to allow for constructive dialogue on how the international community can encourage tolerance and respect for religious freedom in Pakistan in light of its recent designation as a Country of Particular Concern. It will complement other events held this year regarding the review of Pakistan's compliance with the human rights requirements in the EU GSP+ preferential trade access regime.
In recent years, the systematic and ongoing violations of freedom of religion in Pakistan has become an alarming matter. Religious minorities, including Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Ahmadis and Shia Muslims, have perpetually been subjected to attacks and discrimination by extremist groups and the society at large. The abusive enforcement of the country’s stringent blasphemy laws and the entry of fundamentalist religious parties into national politics has aggravated an already dire human rights situation of religious minorities in the country. The recent case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who remained on death row for more than eight years after being falsely accused of blasphemy under Pakistan’s discriminatory blasphemy laws, garnered global attention to the alarming state of religious minorities in the country. In this light, Pakistan was recently designated by the U.S. Secretary of State as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).
However, despite the alarming human rights situation of religious minorities in the country, Pakistan continues to benefit from the EU’s GSP+ preferential trade access regime which allows nearly 78% of its exports to enter the EU at preferential rates. Many human rights experts have expressed frustration over the fact that although the European Commission is aware of the gross and systematic violations of religious freedom in Pakistan, it has not effectively deployed GSP+ as leverage to oblige the country to fulfil its human rights obligations. Against this backdrop, the event aims to bring together policymakers, advocates and representatives of religious minorities to allow for constructive dialogue on how to encourage religious freedom in the country, the impact of the CPC designation on US policy to Pakistan and its potential implications for EU policy with regards to Pakistan’s GSP+ status.
Photo courtesy: Daily Times