Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday said that Pakistan will continue to advance international efforts to protect individuals against xenophobia, intolerance, discrimination and violence based on religion or belief.
In a message on the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief, FM Qureshi said Pakistan has always been at the forefront of all international initiatives for promoting peace, tolerance, intercultural and inter-faith harmony.
“The present government has taken a number of steps domestically to promote freedom on the basis of religion or belief and protect minorities,” the foreign minister said.
In July, Pakistan told a UN panel that a deliberate campaign of hatred by the Indian government in the region was targeting adherents of a particular religious group that led to state-sponsored violence against them and stepped up attacks on their places of worship.
Speaking at the launch of a ‘Group of Friends of Victims of Acts of Violence based on Religion or Belief’, Pakistani representative Qasim Aziz said that hateful political rhetoric and incitement to violence in Pakistan’s neighbourhood was routinely used as a weapon against vulnerable minority groups, while also expressing grave concern over the alarming rise of Islamophobia worldwide.
Pakistan became the founding member of the new group formed in pursuance of last year’s General Assembly resolution that it jointly tabled with Poland, along with other cross-regional member states.
Under the terms of the resolution, August 22 was designated as International Day in support of the victims of violence based on their religion or belief.
In his comments, the Pakistani representative drew attention to the rising global Islamophobia that he stressed represented the contemporary manifestation of a similar kind of age-old hatred that spawned anti-semitism, racism, apartheid and many other forms of discrimination.
“Today, Islamophobia is slowly overtaking other forms of religious bigotry and violence,” Aziz told the group. “Indeed, it is becoming increasingly difficult to practice, look and live as a Muslim in many parts of the world,” he said, pointing out that the Christchurch, New Zealand, attack last year was a grim reminder of this fact.