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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has strongly condemned the desecration of the holy Quran and dishonouring of the Pakistan flag outside the Embassy of Pakistan in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“A strong protest has been lodged with the government of Denmark. We expect the Danish authorities to take all measures necessary to stop such acts of hatred and incitement,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch during her weekly media briefing.

She said that the intent of such evil acts is to insult two billion Muslims around the world and create friction among communities, cultures, and countries. “These acts, by any definition, do not constitute freedom of expression. Nor can the permission to carry out provocative acts of religious hatred be justified under the pretext of freedom of expression, opinion and protest,” she added.

She pointed out as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said, “speech and inflammatory acts against Muslims are offensive, irresponsible and wrong”.

She added that Pakistan has always maintained that freedom of expression comes with responsibilities, adding that it is the responsibility of national governments, regional organizations and the international community at large to call out, condemn and proactively prevent the vile acts of Islamophobia and religious hatred.

“As urged by the UN Human Rights Council, the relevant countries must address, prevent and prosecute such acts of religious hatred. The international community must raise its collective voice against Islamophobia and work together to promote inter-faith harmony and peaceful co-existence,” she added.

She stated that Pakistan, for its part, will continue to raise the question of Islamophobia at the international level. She further stated that the issue was a key point of telephone conversations of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari with his counterparts from Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Türkiyeand with secretary general of OIC and the UN secretary general.

“Issues pertaining to these recurrent acts of Islamophobia are being discussed at the OIC Headquarters in Jeddah and the Human Rights Council in Geneva,” she added.

To a question, she said that the issue was raised at the level of Charge d' Affaires and Pakistan’s Mission in Denmark has also been in contact with the relevant authorities in Denmark.

When asked about Pakistan’s position on talks with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) following the Afghan Taliban authorities urged for holding talks with the group, she said that Pakistan's position that it will not negotiate with individuals or entities which are involved in killing of Pakistani civilians and law enforcement officials and who do not recognise the Constitution of Pakistan. “Pakistan's position has been very clearly enunciated including to those who propose such talks,” she added.

To another query about Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s recent telephonic call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, she said that there is a wide canvas of subjects of discussion between Pakistan and the US.

“When our leaders or our foreign ministers engage all important topics of interest are discussed between the two sides. During this telephone call the two sides discussed bilateral and regional issues. The Black Sea Grain Initiative was on the agenda,” she said.

She further stated that it was also an opportunity for the foreign minister to share with the US Secretary of State the commitment of the government of Pakistan to the democratic process in Pakistan.

About Russia-Ukraine conflict, she said that in his recent talks with Ukrainian and Russian counterparts, Foreign Minister Bilawal reiterated Pakistan's position of neutrality in this conflict.

“We believe that conflict does not serve anyone. It creates difficulties and miseries for the people of both countries. It is, therefore, important to find a negotiated settlement of this conflict so that peace can prevail and the people of Ukraine and Russia can enjoy the peace dividends,” she added.

Meanwhile, sharing update on the recent Greek boat tragedy, the spokesperson stated that the mortal remains of 15 Pakistanis who perished in the disaster have arrived in Pakistan and handed over to their families in the districts of Gujarat, Gujranwala, Mandi Bahauddin, Rawalpindi, Sheikhupura, Vehari, and Mirpur (AJK).

She said that Pakistan’s mission in Greece facilitated the process of retrieval and transportation of the dead bodies. She added that the Greek authorities have also informed that they have completed the process of DNA matching of the retrieved dead bodies. No additional Pakistani national has been identified among the deceased, she added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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