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Pakistan Deaths
Pakistan Cases

ISLAMABAD: The lawmakers belonging to both treasury and opposition, on Tuesday strongly denounced the killing of four members of a Pakistani-origin Canadian family in Canada, saying the act of terrorism reveals the growing Islamophobia in Western countries.

The lawmakers were unanimous in demanding: this is the time to act and the Canadian government must ensure security to people contributing to the uplift of the country away from their home countries.

Soon after the news was flashed on television screens, Prime Minister Imran Khan also took to Twitter and said that "Islamophobia needs to be countered holistically by the international community".

The National Assembly, which started its session with Speaker Asad Qaiser in the chair, offered Fateha for Pakistani-Canadian nationals killed in a "premeditated" truck attack in Ontario.

In a policy statement in the National Assembly, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi expressed concern over the rising trend of Islamophobic attacks in the Western world and called on the global community to pay attention and discourage the trend immediately.

He said that he had contacted Pakistan's consul-general in Ontario as well as the country's high commissioner in Canada for information, adding that details of the attack made his "heart shake and eyes wet".

"We are seeing the trend of Islamophobic attacks for some time and they are on the rise in the Western world. For the last two years, we are bringing global attention to this - that this is a trend, not individual acts," he added.

The minister said that Western governments may want to "colour it as the act of a crazed man or an individual act but if we see the trajectory, this is a rising trend and it is concerning".

He said that he was concerned the rising trend had "started to divide societies".

The foreign minister said around 65 million Muslims resided in Europe, two million in Canada, and six million or more in the United States because of which the "Western world will have to pay attention to this."

"This rising trend of Islamophobia will have to be arrested immediately. If [Western countries] do not do this, the situation can worsen, society can be divided, hate speech, incitement, conflict can be created. Emotions arise and tragedies happen," he warned.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had also talked about Islamophobia in the past, stressing that the Muslim Ummah should be "united and decide on a plan of action".

"If only Pakistan raises its voice, it will not be that effective. If we all raise our voices, that will be effective," Qureshi said, adding that he had submitted a resolution on the instructions of PM Imran during the 47th session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Niamey, asking the body to take up the problem with one voice.

The resolution was not only adopted unanimously but Muslim countries also directed their permanent representatives to the United Nations in New York to take up the matter and build the international community's consensus on the issue, he shared.

Pakistan's Ambassador to the UN Munir Akram was also playing his role, he added.

Qureshi said that according to his conversation with Pakistan's consul general in Ontario, there was a 12-hour gap between the incident and when the family was informed.

"Our consul general was the first person to talk to the family and listen to them," he disclosed.

"I believe that this is not only a hate crime and there is no doubt that four counts of murder are applicable [to the suspect] but we cannot rule out terrorism," he said.

Giving details about the family, he said they hailed from Lahore and had moved to Canada 10 years ago.

The father was a physiotherapist and the family had spent ordinary lives, living in peace and nobody had any complaints with them, he added.

"Only faith-related hate can be seen in the incident that happened to them. The family's only sin was that they were from a society and a religion that repeats the kalima," he added.

Qureshi said the family was shocked and grieving and was hesitant to talk to the media right now, however, the deceased man's brother who lived in Australia had been contacted and he was flying to Canada.

Qureshi suggested Trudeau should meet the family of those killed, saying it would reassure them.

He also requested the Pakistani community in Canada to play their role and "express solidarity with the family and console them".

"We are in contact with the Canadian government and we are taking our policy on Islamophobia forward," he added.

Qureshi said international human rights organisations should discuss the attack because "this is a human rights incident".

He called upon the international media to "not ignore this incident either", so the global community could "adopt a plan of action based on a holistic view against this trend".

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ahsan Iqbal proposed that a conference in cooperation with the International Parliamentary Union should be convened to address the issue of Islamophobia.

PPP leader Abdul Qadir Patel said a parliamentary delegation - both from opposition and treasury benches - should immediately be sent to Canada and other countries to raise the issue of Islamophobia.

The Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, openly said that it was a pure act of terrorism on Canadian soil, which we condemn in the strongest possible terms.

He said that Muslims have particularly been targeted, which is not acceptable. The other lawmakers belonging to both treasury and opposition also strongly condemned the gruesome murder of the family.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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