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Parliamentary questions
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1 October 2009
Answer given by Mrs Ferrero-Waldner on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-4240/2009

The Commission attaches great importance to the respect of the freedom of religion and to the respect of minorities' rights.

The Commission is aware of the Kalash people and their unique history and traditions. It is also aware of reports that those among the Kalash who have not yet converted to Islam have increasingly come under pressure by religious zealots. Through its Delegation in Islamabad the Commission is also following the case of the Greek national Athansios Lerounis, who has been working with the Kalash people for more than 15 years and who was kidnapped on 7 September 2009.

The Commission is keeping abreast of the situation of religious minorities in Pakistan and is participating in joint European Union efforts to address the problems of discrimination which they face. It should be mentioned though, that it is not only the Kalash, but also other minorities, including Christians, Shia and Ahmadis, who may be suffering from religious discrimination in Pakistan.

The EU and the Commission have regularly used any available opportunities to raise human rights issues, including those of religious minorities, with the Pakistan authorities, and there have been a number of diplomatic demarches. This has been complemented from 2007 onwards by a human rights dialogue under the EC‑Pakistan Cooperation Agreement, which allows for regular and two-way dialogue on governance and human rights with Pakistan. In this context, we are prepared to raise the issue of the Kalash with the Government of Pakistan.

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