LAHORE - Acknowledging role of the armed forces in the war on terror, Vice President of the European Parliament (EP) Fabio Massimo Castaldo here on Sunday said people of Pakistan should be proud of their forces for defeating terrorism in the country to a great extent.

In an interview before his departure after two-day visit, he said though Pakistan armed forces had silenced the terrorists a great extent, but the war on terror is going to last long; it is not won yet.

To a question, he said around 70,000 people were killed in the war but the country must continue with the constructive approach which was vital for ensuring security, adding that Europe understands the need to eradicate poverty as poverty could make a person easy victim of radicalization.

“I on behalf of the European Union (EU) send condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives in the war against terror”, he added.

To a question, the youngest EP member urged the need of awareness through education to save the youth from sectarian propaganda.

Recognizing Pakistan’s financial challenges in the aftermath of housing five million refugees who fled their war-torn country, he said the GSP-Plus status offered Pakistan to overcome financial challenges and poverty.

He said it was of great importance as it could help increase jobs for poor and improve living standards in Pakistan. On the renewal of GSP-Plus status for Pakistan, Vice President EP said it was necessary to have more and more interaction and dialogue between EP and Pakistan for evaluating how much poverty had been decreased, jobs were created, labour laws improved and rights ensured to masses.

To another query, he assured of his support to negotiate more trade ties and forge consensus on proposals among different political families of the EU, adding that Pakistan must improve its security situation, secure the borders and implement more effective counter-terrorism measures.

On Indian atrocities in Kashmir and human rights violations, the EP legislator said many people were suffering in Kashmir due to the violations of human rights, adding it was not acceptable as children, women must be protected from violence and repression.

“India should foster dialogue with Pakistan on all disputes and bury the hatchet for collective good of people and lasting peace in the region,” he said adding, he was ready to mediate between Pakistan and India if the two countries wished so.

On the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in India, Fabio Massimo urged India to reconsider the CAA for the sake of its rich traditions and preserving multi-culturalism – a trait which was synonymous with India in the near past.

He said the Muslims in India were at the risk of losing their identity.

“All societies must promote values of open society on which the EU has been built”, he responded.

To a question, he hailed Pakistan’s initiatives like Kartarpur Corridor for Sikh minority, adding that such acts were completely coherent with the values promoted by the civilized world. He said the religious sites help bridge the differences and bring communities and countries closer while these let everyone felt integrated and accepted into the societies.

“I endorse the initiative to build Hindu temples, Sikh Gurdwaras as I understand the importance of protecting the rights of the minorities and India should follow suit,” VP EP Fabio Missimo Castaldo said.