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Pak soldier's execution likely to jeopardize EU trade concessions

Islamabad, Mon, 19 Nov 2012 ANI

Islamabad, Nov. 19 (ANI): The recent execution of a former Pakistani soldier is likely to jeopardize Pakistan's hard-earned trading leverages with the European Union (EU) by breaking the four-year moratorium on death penalty which served as a condition for duty-free access to EU markets.

The penalty overlapped the coming into force of EU's trade concessions, which after years of tedious dialogue became operational on November 16.

Facilitated trade required Pakistan to meet some human rights benchmarks, including the curtailment of the death penalty, reports The Express Tribune.

It is hence feared that Muhammad Hussain's hanging in Mianwali jail on November 15 may provide grounds to risk Pakistan's trade prospects with the bloc of 27 nations.

Hussain, 45, was sentenced to death for the murder of his senior colleague over a personal dispute in 2008. Hussain's mercy petitions to the General Headquarters (GHQ) and the Chief of Army Staff were rejected. The presidential spokesman, Senator Farhatullah Babar revealed that Hussain's mercy petition to the president was also turned down.

Following the execution, EU headquarters in Brussels said that EU trade agreements were tied to human rights bars whose violation increases chances of cancellation, said diplomatic sources.

The EU, unwilling to take the execution of the army soldier as an exception, said that an execution is an execution, whether ordered by a military court or a civilian court. Embassy officials said Army Chief General Kayani could have intervened to pardon the soldier, adding that all available options were not utilised to exonerate Hussain.

Officials added the worst scenario for Pak-EU trade relations would be a series of executions, with the recent one serving as a precedent. (ANI)

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