ISLAMABAD – Public lynching by a mob of Sri Lankan citizen Priyantha Kumara, which led to his death in Sialkot, is the most deplorable incident which can have serious implications for Pakistan in the days to come on multiple fronts.
The incident took place in Sialkot city which is internationally known for manufacturing of not only best sports goods but also surgical instruments and a few textile products as well.
Products from Sialkot are exported to the world over by Pakistan worth millions of US dollars every month.
“Sports goods, mainly football and other items produced by Sialkot are considered best in the world but face strong competition by other countries,” a sports businessman commented.
Pakistan was recently placed by US state department in the countries of particular concern over religious freedom which Pakistan rejected and condemned; however, Sialkot incident would further justify the US state department report on religious freedom.
Pakistan’s GSP plus status given by EU is annually reviewed on the basis of religious freedoms and human rights for which Pakistan has to give strong assurances to EU for protecting human rights particularly rights of minorities.
EU is always concerned over human rights abuses against religious minorities in Pakistan. A three-member EU parliamentary delegation in November visited Pakistan and raised issues of human rights and media freedom.
Sialkot incident coincided with Pakistan EU political dialogue which was held on Friday virtually.
Highlighting that GSP Plus was a mutually-beneficial undertaking, the Foreign Secretary reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to implement the 27 International Conventions covered under the preferential trade scheme. “The Foreign Secretary also conveyed Pakistan’s position on the new legislative proposals of the European Commission relating to the GSP Plus,” a statement issued by foreign office quoted foreign secretary Sohail Mehmood as telling deputy secretary general Enrique Mora during the dialogue.
The Sialkot incident has been reported by major international media outlets and news spread to world over like fire in the jungle and diplomatic cables have been sent by foreign embassies to their respective governments making it difficult for Pakistani government to ignore.
A fresh statement issued by foreign office shared details of Pak EU virtual meeting held on Friday said: “Highlighting that GSP Plus is a mutually-beneficial undertaking, the Foreign Secretary reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to implement the 27 International Conventions covered under the preferential trade scheme.”
The Foreign Secretary also conveyed Pakistan’s position on the new legislative proposals of the European Commission relating to the GSP Plus. The official statements clearly reflect that GSP Plus status of Pakistan is always in the spotlight by European officials.
On diplomatic front Pakistan enjoys very close relations with Sri Lanka, and incident would be seen by the people and government of Sri Lanka as extremely disturbing incident in bilateral relations.
Sri Lanka is only country in South Asia which is Pakistan’s strategic friend but these relations are shadowed by the terrorism incidents in the past in Pakistan.
“There are hundreds of Sri Lankan students currently studying in Pakistan funded by Pakistani government. Their government and parents would be worried after the incident in Sialkot,” a Pakistani student who is a fellow of Sri Lankan students commented.
Timely condemnation of the incident by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa may be taken in the time of grief as a great support to the family of the Sri Lankan man who was killed in the Sialkot incident.