ISLAMABAD–Pakistan on Thursday said its lifting of a six-year-old moratorium on the death penalty would not impact a lucrative trade deal with the European Union which has strongly condemned the move.
Capital punishment was reintroduced in December as part of Pakistan’s moves to step up the fight against militants following a Taliban massacre at Army Public School in Peshawar.
The death penalty was extended to all capital cases last week, with a total of 52 people so far sent to the gallows.
“We do not expect that this issue will impact Pakistan’s GSP plus status,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam told a weekly briefing, referring to the deal which means firms pay no tax on certain categories of goods exported to the 27-nation bloc for 10 years.
Pakistani officials have said the GSP+ status had increased Pakistan’s exports to the European Union by more than a billion dollars because it made its products more competitive.
“It is a question of domestic law and legislation and we are engaged with European Union. We have told them clearly our perspective,” she added.
The EU granted Pakistan “GSP+” status in 2014 conditional on Pakistan enacting certain commitments on human rights.
But it has also reiterated its call for the “universal abolition” of the death penalty in a statement issued Tuesday, singling out the case of Shafqat Hussain, whose family and lawyers say was a minor at the time he was convicted of murder, as being of particular concern.