The European Commission (EC) has opposed a draft legislation by the European Parliament relating to a convention, which holds the army chief answerable to the violation of human rights in any country including Pakistan to avail the new EU GSP Scheme (2024-34).
In order to avail the new scheme, a draft legislative proposal on the new GSP Regulations had been prepared by the EC, which added five new conventions and replaced one already ratified by Pakistan.
The EU Parliament had proposed amendments to the commission’s proposal and added three new conventions.
The EU Council is currently considering the commission’s proposal.
Negotiations were also underway among the commission, parliament and council to finalise the scheme by the end of 2022.
The additional conventions proposed by the parliament for the new scheme included “The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC)” — individual complaints against a State party in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)
Pakistan has not ratified this convention.
Sources told Express Tribune that the Pakistani army chief would have to appear in court in case of ratifying this convention, which had been proposed by the EU Parliament.
This convention has been proposed by the EU Parliament to stop human rights violations in any country including Pakistan.
Officials said any citizen of the EU could pursue a case against the army chief in case of any human rights violation in Pakistan.
That is why Pakistan has concerns over it and is not ready to ratify it.
The sources said the EU Parliament had been making political decisions.
They added that this convention was also a political move.
Commerce ministry officials said in the past, the decision of the EU Commission had been prevailing and Pakistan was hopeful that it would drop this convention to avail the new GSP scheme. Currently, the EU Council, Parliament representatives and EU Commission are negotiating.
The EU Commission has opposed this convention, the sources said.
Pakistan had come to know this development in July this year.
Since that time, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Foreign Office and Pakistani missions in EU have been lobbying to drop this convention.
For the last couple of days, Federal Commerce and Investment Minister Naveed Qamar is in Brussels on an official visit.
During his visit, he had met the members of the European Parliament, senior officials of the European Commission, Important members of various parliamentary committees and Belgian leaders.
The main purpose was to drop the convention so that Pakistan could avail the new scheme that would be a good opportunity for Pakistani exporters to continue tapping the EU market.
The EU’s GSP Plus started in 2014 and would expire on December 31, 2023.
Under this scheme, there is zero import duty on 66% tariff lines including textile garments and fabrics, leather, sports and surgical goods.
Because of this scheme, Pakistan’s exports increased by 86% from €3.56 billion to €6.64 billion in 2021.
The EU’s exports increased by 69% from €3.31 billion to €5.59 billion in 2021.
The Treaty Implementation Cell (TIC), headed by the attorney general and ministry of commerce, as secretariat biennial reviews were conducted in 2016 and 2018.
The 2020 4th biennial review is currently under way.
A successful review would lead to continuation of Pakistan’s GSP+ Status till December 31, 2025 — the deadline to apply for the next scheme.
In order to comply, the Pakistani government facilitated the completion of the re-registration of International non- governmental organisations (INGOs) that were expelled in 2018.
The country also adopted and implemented the “Journalists Welfare Protection Bill”.
The National Assembly passed the Enforced, Involuntary and Disappearances (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill on November 9, 2021.
The National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior on February 16, 2022 recommended the National Assembly to pass the Bill titled “Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention and Punishment) Bill, 2020”.
Provincial governments have also ensured comprehensive child labour laws.
The interior ministry has conducted a study the most serious crimes to reduce the scope of the death penalty.