Image of BPCA officer Shamim Masih as he escorts MEP Peter Van Dalen through H9 Slum community in Islamabad.
A European Parliament delegation has urged Pakistan to bring reforms to the nation’s blasphemy law and to ensure the rights and safety of minorities in their country.
Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Christian Union Party, Member of the European People’s Party (PPE) Group in the EP and Member of the Committee on Human Rights (DROI), Peter Van Dalen, said:
“European parliamentarians are aware and care for Pakistani Christians’
The European Parliament delegation led by MEP Peter van Dalen (Netherlands), Mr. Arne Gericke (Germany) and Mr. Marek Jurek (Poland) visited Pakistan between 2 -5 November, 2015.
The delegation were on a fact finding mission on the application of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan.
The delegation met high interlocutors from the Pakistan Government, Provincial Governments and senior representatives of civil society.
Mr Van Dalen, added:
“The EU believes that there is now momentum for Pakistan to start closing the dark chapter of its blasphemy legislation.
By doing so, Pakistan would apply its founding principles, as well as its international obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the conditions attached to GSP+ trade benefits (tariff free trade for 115 prescribed items in EU countries) granted by the EU.”
The EU parliament delegation delivered their report to senior officials which included the Prime-Minister Sartaj Aziz. The report highlighted several concerns. It stated:
“…legislation which is supposed to protect and safeguard citizens has instead drenched large parts of Pakistan’s society in fear.
“During the recent decade the security situation has worsened in Pakistan.
“Minorities of the country feel insecure and Pakistan sits in the top ten source countries of people seeking asylum in the EU.”
During their visit to Pakistan the delegation visited the infamous H-9 slum area in Pakistan. There they met with displaced people who fled their village near Faisalabad, After Rimsha Masih (11 yrs) was falsely accused of blasphemy (click here).
The delegation assured slum-dwellers that the EU will support better rights for them, and that they would be championing the rights of minorities living in Pakistan.
MEP Peter Van Dalen also prayed for the safety of community and for a better future for them. The delegation also met with victims of the recent twin church blast in Youhanabad (click here). The EU delegation showed great sympathy for the victims of the incident. Later the delegation also met with Asia Bibi’s family in Lahore (click here).
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association. said:
“For far to long the needs of Christians in Pakistan has been ignored by western nations.
“This action by EU delegates, shows that the European Parliament is serious about bringing Pakistan’s poor human rights record for minorities to the fore of their agenda.
“Delegates will now have been brought face to face with real victims.
“I hope this cultivates a seed change in EU policies towards Pakistan, and will create a momentum for more tangible improvement in the rights of minorities there.
“Life for Christians has reached it’s lowest ebb, only international intervention can break the stranglehold that extremism has garnered in a nation steeped in Islamism.”