The European Union must not turn its back on Pakistan:Sajjad Karim

Sajjad Karim MEP has this week called upon the European Union not to turn its back on Pakistan and has asked the European Parliament to reaffirm its support for extending autonomous trade preferences following the unprecedented floods that devastated the country last year.

Mr Karim has been vocal in ensuring the European Union maintains the necessary support to help Pakistan recover from the devastating floods that occurred last summer. He has continuously called on the European Commission and the Parliament to work with member states to press the importance of offering diplomatic, financial, logistical and advisory support to Pakistan and the Pakistani government.

Making his speech during a full session of the Parliament in Strasbourg on Monday, Mr Karim, who is the Chairman of the European Parliament’s Friends of Pakistan Group, was responding to the proposals made by the Parliament’s Committee on International Trade (INTA), which called for several amendments to be made to the original draft regulation on EU-Pakistan trade preferences presented by the European Commission last year.

Mr Karim rejected these amendments, which called upon Pakistan to meet certain fundamental conditions before granting trade preferences, as detracting from the initial intentions of the Commission. In his speech he said:

“I know the pain-staking work that went in through colleagues from right across the committee to try and come forward with something that was acceptable. But I am afraid that parts of the amendments take away from the spirit of our initial intentions and the initial way in which we reacted. I believe this House should reaffirm the original Commission position, as we have the guarantee of annual impact assessments”

Mr Karim, who last year met with Pakistan Prime Minister, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, to discuss the EU’s response to the floods, went on to say:

“The European Union must not turn its back on Pakistan and trade is the answer as a long term measure to assist the country.”

Reacting to concerns raised in the Parliament on the matter of security and terrorism in Pakistan, Mr Karim addressed his fellow MEPs by saying:

“I hear what you say about your security concerns, but I stand here as somebody who narrowly survived the Mumbai's attacks and I say to you this is not the time to turn your back at Pakistan. The credibility of the EU is at stake.