EU has ‘clear interest’ in stable, democratic Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The European Union (EU) has a “clear interest in a stable, secure and democratic Pakistan”, and considers the country an important partner in strengthening multilateral cooperation, especially within the United Nations, according to a report adopted by the Council of the European Union (CEU) on Monday.

The report, released by the council’s general secretariat in Brussels, said the EU was ready to consider sending another election observation mission for the 2018 election in Pakistan.

The EU welcomed that a number of recommendations made by its observation mission in 2013 had been considered by Pakistan in the draft bill on election reform. It urged the government to complete the passage of the bill into law before the upcoming elections.

The council endorsed the 2017 implementation report on the EU-Pakistan five-year engagement plan, which is completing this year. It observed that the plan had helped deepen bilateral relations and intensified institutional dialogue across priority areas, including political cooperation, security, governance, human rights, migration and trade and energy.

Considers sending election observation mission for 2018 polls

Future meetings will discuss new areas such as counterterrorism, nonproliferation and disarmament, according to the report.

The EU, a bloc of 28 member states, attached special importance to strengthening cooperation on security and defence issues with Pakistan.

It called on Pakistan to step up efforts to ensure that its territory was not used by terrorists and encouraged Pakistan to uphold the highest standards of nuclear safety and security, have a constructive engagement in multilateral disarmament forums and ratify or subscribe to relevant non-proliferation and confidence-building treaties and initiatives, such as the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

In line with the EU’s recommendations made on July 18 last year, the European External Action Service and the European Commission initiated consultations with Pakistan on a political framework to replace the Engagement Plan with EU-Pakistan Strategic Engagement Plan.

As part of the consultations, EU Ambassador Jean-Francois Cautain met Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Monday and discussed economic cooperation agreements.

The report said that in view of the enhanced implementation of the EU-Pakistan Readmission Agreement, the Union remained closely engaged with the country and would continue to follow up on the issue.

The EU expected Pakistan to step up its efforts to facilitate the return of its irregular migrants, and welcomed an agreement to set up an electronic platform for processing readmission applications.

It also asked Pakistan to capitalise on the GSP+ preferential tariff scheme and take steps to improve the business climate.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2017

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