The EU standing shoulder to shoulder with Pakistan against terrorism was the key message from the new European Parliament resolution which was voted through by MEPs today in Strasbourg. The resolution was drafted in response to the horrific Taliban school attack in Peshawar last month and comes in the aftermath of the shootings in Paris last week.
Relations between the EU and Pakistan have gone from strength to strength and have been led by North West MEP Dr Sajjad Karim who founded and chairs the influential European Parliament Friends of Pakistan group. The new resolution reiterates the EU’s stance on corporal punishment, however the ECR Group (the group belonging the UK Conservatives) have allowed a free vote on this issue.
Sajjad was consulted during the negotiation process of the resolution and ensured that the EU will support the country in its bid to tackle terror. However he also urged Pakistan not to compromise its values on human rights. He said:
“We should not allow terrorists to take from us through our reaction, what they could never take from us in their actions.
“Extremists cannot be defeated by extreme measures alone. We need to use a wide range of tools at our disposal to rid the threat of the Taliban.
“From Paris to Peshawar, Mumbai to Madrid, terrorists seek to divide us with their senseless acts. But we need to stay united and stay strong to our core values. I will ensure that the EU will continue to support Pakistan’s fight against terrorism. The EU stands firm and united with Pakistan at this time. “I welcome the will of Pakistan’s political parties who are looking to develop a national plan to tack terrorism.”
Saj is no stranger to terrorism. He and his family were threatened by right wing extremists in the UK and Karim also faced the guns of Islamic extremists during the Mumbai shootings in 2008.
During the sentencing of one of the Mumbai shooters, Ajmal Kasab, where Kasab was given the death penalty, Karim spoke out and argued for the attacker not to be executed. Relations between the EU and Pakistan have been growing warmer in recent years, with Sajjad Karim leading on the GSP+ trade package which has boosted Pakistan’s textile economy and lead to cheaper garments being imported to the EU.
The EU is Pakistan’s largest trading partner with textile and clothing products making more than 60% of Pakistan’s exports to the EU. The EU has made special efforts to assist Pakistan in times of need, particularly during the flooding of 2010 and 2011.