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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Wednesday, inaugurated the 8th meeting of the “Istanbul Process” and presented a three-pronged preventive and action-oriented strategy as a way forward to prevent and counter the contemporary menaces.

The meeting under the theme; “10th anniversary of UN Human Rights Council resolution 16/18: Looking Back and Moving Forward”, is being hosted on a virtual platform by Pakistan from Geneva, according to a press release of the Foreign Office.

In his keynote address, the foreign minister highlighted that securitisation of State policies, deployment of incendiary rhetoric by public office holders, and misuse of social media platforms were among the main drivers of the growing incidents of religious intolerance, discrimination and violence worldwide.

He noted that while people of every faith had been victims of these scourges, Muslims and Islam had borne their main brunt.

The foreign minister presented a three-pronged preventive and action-oriented strategy as a way forward to prevent and counter these contemporary menaces: (a) reviewing discriminatory State laws, policies and practices; (b) promoting inter-faith harmony, tolerance and peaceful co-existence, while building legal deterrence against hate speech; and (iii) concluding an international instrument that prohibits dissemination of ideas and expressions which incite acts of religious intolerance and hatred leading to violence.

The foreign minister of Turkey, the OIC secretary general, UK Minister of State for the UN, US Under-Secretary for Democracy and Human Rights, EU Special Representative for Human Rights, President of the UN Human Rights Council, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, High Representative for UN Alliance of Civilizations and former OIC Secretary General Prof Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu also delivered remarks during the opening segment.

Nearly 200 participants from States, inter-governmental organizations, civil society, faith community, mainstream and social media are attending this virtual moot. Throughout the day, panel discussions will take stock of the progress made in the last ten years, analyse contemporary concerns, and explore ways to counter these challenges.

The hosting of this 8th Istanbul Process meeting signifies Pakistan’s resolve to foster dialogue, and encourage adoption of affirmative and regulatory measures as a bulwark against rising incidents of incitement to violence against people of faith, in line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision.

As the OIC Coordinator on Human Rights Affairs in Geneva, Pakistan played a lead role in crafting political consensus on HRC resolution 16/18 in 2011, which outlines an 8-point Action Plan to counter discrimination and violence against individuals and communities due to their religion or belief.

Pakistan was also a key stakeholder in launching the Istanbul Process in July 2011, which is the implementation platform for resolution 16/18. Pakistan is part of the Quartet countries, along with Turkey, UK and US, which steer this process.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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