The European Union (EU) has threatened Pakistan that it will suspend all subsidies and trade preferences to Islamabad over ‘persecution of religious minorities’. 51-members of the European Parliament in a letter to the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan drew concerns to religious prejudices against the minorities.
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“Over the last few years, religious extremist groups, often with the support of the Pakistani State have grown in influence, further generating religious prejudices against minorities. Concomitantly, instances of attacks against minorities, their places of worship etc. have also increased year upon year,” the letter said. The European Parliament members reminded Islamic Republic of Pakistan that the oppression of religious minorities violated the United Nations treaty on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is the foundation for the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which is a binding UN human rights agreement. “We would be compelled to suspend all subsidies and trade preferences until the effective implementation of the Convention could be assured by the Government of Pakistan.”
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Earlier Pakistani governments also share responsibility for contributing and encouraging ‘acts of violence against minorities by radical Islamic groups. The world was drawn to Asia Bibi’s case, a Christian woman who was wrongfully persecuted under the draconian blasphemy law in 2010. The Supreme Court quashed her sentence in October 2018. This led to violent protests by religious hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws and liberal sections of the society urged for her release.