EU-Pakistan: Sixth Round of the European Union-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue
The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP), Josep Borrell and Foreign Minister of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Co-chaired the 6th round of the EU-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue in Brussels on December 7, 2021.
Foreign Minister Qureshi and HR/VP Borrell reviewed the ongoing cooperation between Pakistan and the EU based on the Strategic Engagement Plan. They agreed to further enhance EU-Pakistan mutual engagement, especially on security and regional cooperation. Both Sides agreed to hold the first meeting of the new EU-Pakistan Security Dialogue with sub-groups on Non-proliferation and Disarmament, and Counter-terrorism in 2022. The EU welcomed the progress made by Pakistan to implement the Financial Action Task Force Action Plans and the ongoing efforts to address the remaining actions.
The HR/VP and the Foreign Minister reaffirmed their resolve to strengthen and protect human rights as well as fundamental freedoms, focussing on freedom of religion and belief, inter-faith harmony, religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence, and rights of minorities. Foreign Minister Qureshi also raised concerns at the rising trends of Islamophobic acts, xenophobia and religious intolerance in the world and the need for common resolve to counter them.
Both sides expressed a strong political commitment towards the GSP+ and the implementation of 27 international conventions on human rights, labour rights, protection of the environment and good governance that are linked to it. The HR/VP raised concerns including on the death penalty and the misuse of the blasphemy law. The HR/VP also expressed appreciation for the adoption of the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill by the Parliament of Pakistan and hoped that the Anti-Torture Bill and other human rights related legislations that are before the Parliament would be adopted soon.
They also welcomed the continued cooperation with Pakistan on electoral matters. High Representative Borrell informed Foreign Minister Qureshi about the upcoming follow-up visit of the EU Election Observation Mission to Pakistan of 2018.
HR/VP Borrell and Foreign Minister Qureshi discussed the importance of decisive global action on climate adaptation and building climate resilience, and the importance of developed countries taking the lead in mobilising climate finance, noting the significant role of public and private funds, and technology to facilitate the transition. HR/VP Borrell welcomed Pakistan’s pronouncement, prior to the Glasgow conference, of its Nationally Determined Contribution to reaching the common climate objectives.
High Representative and Foreign Minister had an extensive exchange of views on the situation in Afghanistan. They agreed on the importance of maintaining sustained engagement with Afghanistan to promote stability and countering narcotics as well as the threat of terrorism. They expressed grave concern at the potential for an economic collapse and significantly worsening humanitarian crisis and a fresh flow of refugees. Both sides acknowledged Afghanistan’s serious liquidity challenges which strain the legitimate banking services. They also agreed on the need for continuing urgent and unhindered humanitarian assistance and basic social services support to the Afghan people. They highlighted the importance of improving the socio-economic situation and preserving human rights, notably those of women and girls, and persons belonging to minorities. Both sides supported dialogue among the Afghan parties for achieving national reconciliation and underlined the importance of an inclusive and representative government, to enhance the prospects of security and stability.
The High Representative thanked Pakistan for its support in evacuation of EU nationals and the safe passage of people from Afghanistan. Foreign Minister Qureshi expressed Pakistan’s support for the EU’s inclusion in regional political consultation mechanism on Afghanistan.
Foreign Minister Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s deep concerns about human rights violations by India in Jammu and Kashmir, and efforts to change the demography of the disputed territory in violation of UNSC resolutions. High Representative Borrell underscored that the EU is following the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir closely and restated the need for restraint, de-escalation of tensions and resolution of the dispute through dialogue and constructive political and diplomatic engagement. The HR/VP welcomed as an important step, in the interest of regional peace and stability, the agreement of February 2021 between India and Pakistan for observance of ceasefire understanding at the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and to engage through the established mechanisms.
Foreign Minister Qureshi and High Representative Borrell also exchanged views on other regional issues and reaffirmed their endeavour to promote peace and prosperity through concerted efforts.