ISLAMABAD: After inclusion of Pakistan’s name on special watch list by the United States would create hurdles for GSP Plus status and country’s relations with European Union (EU).
Sources in EU told Online that steps taken by Pakistan for safety and security of minorities and their worship places are commendable but US decision regarding inclusion of Pakistan’s name on special watch list "for severe violations of religious freedom" would affect the cause.
“Pakistan is liable to take steps for safety of minorities and women rights according to 27th convention of United Nations (UNO) Organization while America has put Pakistan in the list of those countries who were alleged of exploiting minorities rights severely,” sources mentioned.
The statement also re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as "Countries of Particular Concern" — an annual practice according to the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
Being on the watch list means Pakistan is a step away from being included in the "Countries of Particular Concern" list.
The list includes "governments that have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom."
In late 2013, EU granted GSP Plus status to Pakistan till 2023 that allowed almost 20 per cent of Pakistani exports to enter the EU market at zero tariff and 70 per cent at preferential rates. Pakistan was the second country in all of South and Southeast Asia to receive the trade advantage, giving it a 10 to 14 percent duty advantage over major regional competitors including China, India, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia.