ISLAMABAD: The debate whether or not to lift the moratorium on executions took a new turn on Tuesday when European Union Ambassador to Pakistan Lars-Gunnar Wigemark said the European Commission had no condition linking abolition of death penalty to grant of preferential market access to the country.
Various circles, including the Foreign Office, had informed the government that lifting of moratorium on implementation of death penalty might compromise the country’s prospects of qualifying for the new generalised system of preferences (GSP) plus scheme which allowed duty free exports to the 27-nation European market.
The moratorium imposed by the PPP government expired on June 30.
Ambassador Lars was speaking alongside the head of the EU parliamentary delegation on human rights, Ana Gomez, who is visiting the country to assess the situation.
Pakistan formally applied in March to the European Commission for the scheme. The commission’s team is likely to evaluate the application by next month. Then the application will be submitted to the European Parliament for approval in two months.
Ambassador Lars said the GSP had no condition related to death penalty.
The clarification came on the day when the interior ministry’s spokesman Umar Hameed informed the Senate standing committee concerned that the foreign ministry had recommended continuation of the moratorium on death penalty for the GSP plus scheme. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had ordered that no death penalty be carried out till further orders, he said.