ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Pakistan on Saturday joined the International Community in expressing solidarity with and support to the victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief.
In his message on the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief, the Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that this is an important occasion to renew global solidarity in countering discrimination, hatred, and acts of violence against people and communities on the basis of religion or belief.
The foreign minister said that guided by the vision of our founding fathers, Pakistan has always been at the forefront of all international initiatives for promoting peace, tolerance, inter-cultural and inter-faith harmony, and respect both at home and abroad.
Qureshi noted that on the basis of the principles enshrined in our Constitution, the government has taken a number of steps domestically to promote freedom on the basis of religion or belief and protecting minorities including the establishment of the National Commission for Minorities, and restoration of places of worship of minorities.
“We opened the Kartarpur Corridor, and constructed the world’s largest Gurdwara, allowing easy access to our Sikh brethren from the neighborhood and across the world. The UN Secretary-General termed it as a “corridor of hope”,” he said.
The minister said that as we commemorate this day, we are particularly alarmed at the global resurgence of xenophobia, hatred, and acts of violence against minorities.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that even as victims of violence belong to diverse religious minorities across the world, there is a disproportionate growth in hate speech and stigmatization of Muslim communities and individuals, leading to acts of violence.
Qureshi said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has been raising awareness about this phenomenon and remains in the vanguard of international efforts to counter Islamophobia.
The foreign minister said that in our own region, the BJP-RSS regime in India, inspired by the extremist “Hindutva” ideology, has embarked upon a sinister design to “cleanse” India of the vestiges of its Islamic heritage, and make Muslims second class citizens, and even non-citizens.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the suffering of Muslims of India has increased manifold during COVID-19 due to targeted disinformation and deliberate hate campaigns against them.
“As the world stands for victims of violence based on religion and belief, it must also call on India to immediately lift its inhuman military siege in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK),” he said.
The minister said that for over a year, the people of IIOJK have been deprived of all fundamental freedoms including their right to perform their religious duties. India must be held accountable for its serious crimes against the Kashmiri people.
The foreign minister assured that on its part, Pakistan will continue to advance international efforts to protect individuals against xenophobia, intolerance, discrimination, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, violence, and incitement to violence based on religion or belief.