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Pakistan Minister Bhatti's assassination strongly condemned. Joseph Daul MEP, Chairman of the EPP Group, Eija-Riitta Korhola MEP, and Michael Gahler MEP


03 Mar 2011


Global Europe

 Brussels 03 March 2011  – UNIFE, the European rail industry, is alarmed by the UK Government’s decision to resume negotiations on the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) with Hitachi. The IEP is considered to be amongst the largest orders to have ever been awarded to a rolling stock manufacturer in the world.


While the promised creation of 500 new jobs is no doubt welcomed in the UK economy at this time, this figure is extremely low compared to what could have been secured if the IEP was executed by a European supplier.  The decision further reinforces the lack of reciprocity between Europe and Japan in rail procurement.


Thanks to clear and transparent public procurement rules transport-related tenders in Europe are largely open to foreign companies, while the Japanese market remains completely inaccessible to European rolling stock suppliers. Indeed, only 2% of the Japanese rail equipment market is opened to foreign suppliers. This de facto market closure is achieved through the extensive use of the so-called “Operational Safety Clause” by which foreign bidders are effectively excluded.

The Minorities Minister of Pakistan, Shahbaz Bhatti, has been shot dead in Islamabad while travelling to work. "The EPP Group strongly condemns the cold-blooded and cowardly assassination of Mr Bhatti, who fought tirelessly for religious freedom and against the persecution of Christian minorities in Pakistan. The assassination is all the more horrible, as we remember Mr Bhatti's visit to the European Parliament in May 2010, his calls for improving the situation of minorities and the ties between the European Union and Pakistan, acknowledging the risk for his own safety. The Pakistani authorities must conduct a thorough investigation of this hidious crime, and bring those responsible to justice", said Joseph Daul MEP, Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, and Eija-Riitta Korhola MEP, expressing their deepest sympathy to the family of Mr Bhatti.

Michael Gahler MEP, former Chief Observer of the EU Election Observation Mission to Pakistan (2008), heard "with disgust and horror the news of the assassination of Pakistan's Minorities Minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, in Islamabad, and condemns in the strongest possible terms this attack on the Christian Minister."

Mr Bhatti, a Christian, belonged to the leadership of the Pakistan People's Party. He had previously received several death threats from Islamist militants because of his efforts to reform the country's blasphemy law. The blasphemy law holds a death sentence for anyone who insults Islam, but Mr Bhatti said it had been used to persecute minority faiths.

Mr Bhatti visited the EPP Group and the European Parliament in May 2010, on the invitation of Eija-Riitta Korhola MEP, as the Members were about to adopt a human rights urgency Resolution on Religious Freedom in Pakistan on Thursday 20 May. Mrs Korhola has also drafted two other urgency Resolutions on Pakistan, the latest one being adopted by the Parliament in January 2011, after Governor Salem Taseer's murder.

Joseph Daul, Eija-Riitta Korhola and Michael Gahler have expressed their concern for the safety of Pakistani parliamentarians who have also championed reform of the blasphemy laws. "Ending religious persecution in the world is more important than ever. We welcome the recent Council conclusions on intolerance, discrimination and violence on the basis of religion or belief in strengthening EU action in this field and call on the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to actively pursue the issue of religious persecution in the world", they concluded.

Minister Bhatti's visit to the European Parliament

Council conclusions on intolerance, discrimination and violence on the basis of religion or belief

Human rights urgency Resolution on Religious Freedom in Pakistan

Resolution drafted by Eija-Riitta Korhola MEP in January 2011

For further information:
Antoine Ripoll, Chairman's Spokesman, Tel: +32-475-856290
Sarita Rauta, EPP Group Press and Communications Service, Tel: +32-476-880538
Lasse Böhm, EPP Group Press & Communications Service, Tel: +32-484-656897

Notes to Editors:
The EPP Group is by far the largest political group in the European Parliament with 265 Members