EU considers Pakistan as a strong development partner; lauds Ten Billions Trees Tsunami initiative of the government to mitigate environmental impacts; appreciates adoption of business and human rights in Pakistan
The European Union deems it very important to deepen partnership with Pakistan in diverse areas.
This was stated by Vice-President of European Parliament Heidi Hautala in an exclusive interview with News and Current Affairs Channel of Radio Pakistan. Heidi Hautala is a member of the Committee on International Trade of the European Parliament as well as Incharge of the Review of the GSP Regulations.
She said the current visit of her delegation is from South Asia mission that works closely with countries like Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Vice-President of European Parliament said all the countries that are in GSP Plus status including Pakistan will have to reapply for it at the latest by 2025. The applicant countries must fulfill the requirements in order to get into regime again. She said the EU is very carefully monitoring the implementation of the GSP Plus regime in Pakistan and the next monitoring mission will visit in 2022.
On a question regarding 27 conventions that are to be adhered to under the GSP Plus regime, she admitted that Pakistan is making progress on the issues of women rights and gender equality but there are still concerns regarding rights of each and every person in the country. The EU, she said, wants to help Pakistan and other GSP Plus countries to implement the international human rights conventions. She said some new conventions will be added to the present system to encompass other areas that have evolved over the years. In this connection, she referred to Paris Agreement on climate change and accords on good governance, and rights of persons with disabilities among others.
When asked what Pakistan could do to enhance its exports to the EU, Heidi Hautala said it will be beneficial for Pakistan to diversify its trade to the bloc. She said Pakistan could focus on more value added products in addition to textiles. She said her aim in this review is to find ways to help and support Pakistan in creating a better business environment. She said one of the pleasant things she has observed in Pakistan is adoption of business and human rights. This plan calls upon companies to abolish the practices of child labor, as well as forced and bonded labor. This human rights due diligence will end human rights violations at the work place. She said legislation is coming at the European Parliament that will oblige companies operating in the EU to eradicate human rights violations in their supply chains and it will also benefit the workers of Pakistan, besides helping the environment.
The European Parliament official said EU is strong development partner of Pakistan. She said her idea in GSP Review is to apply the whole of government approach i.e. putting all tools together to eradicate poverty, ensuring rights of women and girls and protection of human rights.
On a question, she said rapid population growth in Pakistan is impeding the provision of education and jobs to the youth. She said empowering women could be solution to this crisis as is successfully happening in some countries of Africa. She said she favors gender quotas that are the best possible way to give women more presence in public life. The EU envoy said effective legislation regarding gender opportunities needs to be devised and implemented in Pakistan.
Heidi Hautala said the scope of GSP Plus is very broad and it looks for development and progress in most aspects of society and economy. She said we need to take direction to transform our economies because we are in a planetary emergency as evidenced by recent debates and negotiations on climate change in Glasgow. The EU official said we need to urgently establish national plans on how to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change and how to adapt to the new environment as countries are very vulnerable in South Asia.
Terming Ten Billions Trees Tsunami program of the incumbent government as a great initiative, she said combatting climate change is going to very deep structures of economies and societies. In Europe, she said, enormous amounts of energy are consumed in comparison with developing countries. She said EU can help poorer countries introducing technologies that are environment friendly from the outset. She said EU could also help support alternative energy sources for meeting the needs of Pakistan.
Heidi Hautala said all our development cooperation with Pakistan should have a component of environmental protection. She said organic and nature based solutions must be implemented while practicing farming. The conventional methods and best practices should be retained in farming as well.
On a question regarding youth bulge in Pakistan, she said the government needs to adopt policies of population control as well as creation of more opportunities for its people.
The weekly program “Diplomatic Session” was hosted by renowned journalist and columnist Javed Siddiq while Producer of the program was Saeed Ahmad and Executive Producer Abdul Raoof Khan.
The weekly program “Diplomatic Session” is being broadcast from News and Current Affairs Channel and FM 101 networks of Radio Pakistan every Saturday at 1815 hrs.
The show is also available on Radio Pakistan’s official website “www.radio.gov.pk”, Social Media Platforms and Radio Pakistan’s Podcast “podcast.radio.gov.pk”.