ISLAMABAD, Nov 27 (APP): Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday called for joint efforts by the Muslim Ummah to effectively address the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic and Islamophobia.
“We need to coordinate our actions, benefit from each other’s experiences and pool our resources by bringing governments, scientists and research institutions together,” he said while addressing the 47th session of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Niamey, Niger.
The foreign minister mentioned that Pakistan had been able to contain the worst effects of the pandemic, despite having the world’s fifth largest population.
Pakistan’s success stories were cited worldwide, he said, expressing readiness to share its experience with the Muslim countries.
On shrinking fiscal space due to COVID-19, he said, Pakistan was at the forefront, citing Prime Minister Imran Khan’s “Global Initiative on Debt Relief” for developing countries.
As regards the rising incidents of Islamophobia and hatred towards the Muslims, he said the recent despicable incidents like desecration of the Holy Quran and reprinting of the caricatures of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) had seriously hurt the sentiments of over 1.8 billion Muslims around the world.
“These shameful acts cannot and should not be justified in the name of freedom of expression,” he said, adding that the rise and political mainstreaming of far-right extremism in many countries was creating a hostile environment for the Muslims.
“It is critical to raise awareness about this new scourge. Pakistan has always played the lead role in combating Islamophobia, and will continue to do so,” he added.
Qureshi urged the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to authorize its secretariat to launch an international campaign for outlawing willful provocation against the Muslims and incitement to hate.
He also proposed designating March 15 as the ‘International Day to Combat Islamophobia’, a resolution to the effect had already been tabled.
On rising wave of Hindutva in India, he said it had emerged as a serious threat not only to the Indian Muslims but also to regional security.
“The Modi government is systematically attacking the country’s over 180 million Muslims. Incidents of mob lynching have witnessed a steep rise,” he added.
He recalled that on August 5, 2020, in clear violation of the OIC resolutions, the Indian prime minister laid the foundation stone of a Hindu temple on the site of the historic Babri Mosque that was demolished by the Hindu extremists in 1992.
“We must take cognizance of these crimes lest we see another bloodbath of Indian Muslims,” he said.
About the situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), the foreign minister said in the backdrop of India’s illegal and unilateral actions of August 5, 2019, the IIOJK had turned into a grave human and humanitarian tragedy.
“For over 15 months now, over eight million Kashmiris continue to face lockdown, military siege, communications blockade, arbitrary detentions, and unprecedented restrictions,” he told the forum.
“Operating under draconian laws with complete impunity, Indian occupation forces are committing unspeakable atrocities to silence the voice of the Kashmiris and break their will,” he added.
He said the efforts to change the demographic structure of IIOJK were part of the nefarious Indian designs.
“These actions are in clear violation of the UNSC (United Nations Security Council) resolutions and international law, in particular the 4th Geneva Convention,” he said.
Qureshi said to gloss over its crimes and malign the indigenous resistance movement in the IIOJK, India hurled false accusations of “cross-border terrorism” against Pakistan and might resort to a “false flag” operation and undertake another misadventure.
He mentioned that India also continued to commit violations of the 2003 ceasefire understanding along the Line of Control (LoC), deliberately targeting the civilian population.
“Pakistan is exercising maximum restraint but our patience is not unlimited. While Pakistan has been at the forefront of fighting the menace of terrorism, India has been weaving a web of terrorism in Pakistan,” he said.
The foreign minister recalled that Pakistan had prepared a dossier on India’s state sponsorship of terrorism and provided incontrovertible proof to the international community.
“We hope that the OIC collectively, and Muslim countries individually, will play a role in stopping India from following this dangerous course,” he said.
Qureshi appreciated the new CFM Chair Niger’s Foreign Minister Ankaourao, Chair of 14th Islamic Summit Saudi Arabia’s FM Prince Farhan bin Faisal, and Turkish FM Cavusoglu for highlighting the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in their statements in the Opening Plenary Session.
He lauded that the OIC had been at the forefront of efforts to support the legitimate and just struggle of the people of IIOJK for their inalienable right to self-determination.
He said since August 5, 2019, the OIC Contact Group on J&K had held three meetings, including two ministerial meetings by adopting unanimous communiqués.
“I appeal to the OIC countries to also use their political influence and economic clout to prevent India from committing further atrocities in IIOJK,” he added.
The foreign minister said Pakistan looked forward to the 47th CFM reaffirming its strong support for the Kashmiri people by adopting the resolution tabled by Pakistan.
Qureshi said Palestine was another wound that continued to fester and Israel continued to take unilateral steps that fly in the face of the two-state solution.
“Peace and stability in the Middle East is a priority for Pakistan. Illegal annexation of the Palestinian territory, building of illegal settlements and inhuman living conditions of the Palestinians make realization of that dream more difficult every passing day,” he said.
On Afghanistan, he said Pakistan continued to fully support the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, and hoped that collective endeavours would result in a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
Qureshi said Pakistan had embarked upon a new, path-breaking “Engage Africa” initiative to strengthen political and diplomatic linkages, and further deepen and broad mutually beneficial trade and economic ties.
He said Pakistan remained committed to promoting the OIC as the sole and most effective voice of the Ummah.
“We are looking forward to hosting the 48th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers next year and welcoming you all,” he said.
As the prospective CFM Chair, he said Pakistan was ready to constructively engage with the entire membership to promote unity, peace and prosperity among the Muslim Ummah.