3230th FOREIGN AFFAIRS Council meeting
Brussels, 11 March 2013
The Council adopted the following conclusions:
"Recalling its conclusions of June 2012, the European Union reiterates its strong and continued commitment to deepening and widening relations with Pakistan. At the centre of this commitment is the strengthening of democracy in Pakistan.
The EU looks forward to upcoming elections that are peaceful, credible, transparent, inclusive and acceptable to the Pakistani people. They should, for the first time, enable the transition of power from one elected government to the next under the stewardship of an independent Election Commission. Furthermore, it is very important t hat the elections take place in an environment free from intimidation and coercion. The EU is ready to assist by deploying an election observation mission, as a tangible sign of our support for the democratic process.
The EU supports Pakistan in upholding the rule of law and human rights. The EU strongly condemns all acts of violence, including sectarian violence and violence against women, children and vulnerable religious minorities. The EU urges the Pakistani authorities to take the necessary action to protect the rights of all citizens affected and to bring to justice the perpetrators. It is essential for the country’s future that al l Pakistani children have the right to receive an education free from the threat of violence by extremists.
The Strategic Dialogue forms the bedrock of deeper EU-Pakistan relations for the long term.
The EU looks forward to re-energizing the 5-Year Engagement Plan, on which this dialogue is based with the next Pakistani Government, including through early meetings of ministers and senior officials, and in light of progress achieved, this could lea d to a third EU-Pakistan summit. Recognising that Pakistan’s next government will need to take urgent action to ensure essential political, institutional, economic, fiscal and energy reforms, the EU calls on Pakistan’s political parties to build the momentum necessary to reach agreement on these. The Council confirms that the 5-Year Engagement Plan should remain t he basis for assistance to Pakistan. As part of its engagement, the EU has already afforded Pakistan improved market access by introducing autonomous trade preferences for which the EU has obtained a waiver in the WTO.
Pakistan plays an important role in fostering stability in South Asia, including through the “Heart of Asia initiative”. The EU encourages renewed understanding and continuing progress in India-Pakistan relations and supports the further development of regional trade links, which would strongly benefit the whole region. The EU welcomes and encourages Pakistan’s constructive role in promoting a secure Afghanistan and supporting an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process."