LAHORE  - The European Union (EU) has recognised Pakistan’s commitment to maintaining and meeting the obligations it has signed under the UN treaties. The EU has also recognised Pakistan as fifth largest GSP beneficiaries in the context of imports.

The EU made these acknowledgements in third biennial report of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on Monday.

The report includes 10 Joint Staff Working Documents written by the European Commission and the European External Action Service. Of these 10, nine documents assessed the performance of each beneficiary of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP)+ arrangement, said a press release.

“It [report] also examines a number of overarching issues such as the freedom of civil society to operate, progress on tackling child labour, and environmental and good governance concerns,” said the statement.

The report shared the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has “shown a keen interest in maintaining GSP+ for its economic and trade benefits”. The report also noted that the government is also interested in the GSP+ arrangement as an incentive for sustainable development and good governance.

The report remarked that Islamabad has “shown commitment to maintaining ratifications and meeting reporting obligations to the United Nations Treaty Bodies for the 27 UN Conventions.” The report asserted that Pakistan was making some progress on adopting laws on the protection of women and children rights; elimination of honour killings; protection of transgender persons; protection of the environment; and good governance.

The report took into account the government’s successful fight against drugs and pointed out that Pakistan leads a UN initiative on education in this regard. It also recognised Pakistan’s removal from the list of cannabis resin production countries.

The EU recognised that Pakistan’s launch of a national Child Labour Survey was an important step and also lauded the government for initiating the implementation of the National Action Plan on Human Rights. The report recognised the end of military courts after the Parliament decided against approving its extension in March 2019.

EU’s concerns

However, the EU has expressed concern over the delays in the progress of the salient draft legislation on enforced disappearances and labour rights. The regional body also expressed concern over the delay in the passing of Anti-Torture Bill after it was submitted in the parliament.

The EU also expressed concern regarding the space being given to the civil society and the suppression of dissenting voices. It labelled the trend as “negative” in these matters and noted that a high level of impunity was being followed for perpetrators of crimes against journalists.

The EU has also expressed “serious concern” regarding the “broad and vague grounds” for the cancellation of the registration of the international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) operating in the country.

The report stated that the incumbent government’s “drive against corruption is high on the agenda” but noted that the National Accountability Bureau was being widely criticised by the opposition for initiating cases against their leaders.

Another concern expressed by the 27-member body is the delay in the appointment of a commissioner for the National Commission for Human Rights. It noted that the delay was “hampering the operation of the institution.”