ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday proposed forming a strategic alliance among Pakistan, Malaysia and Turkey to combat growing Islamophobia, a cabinet minister told The Express Tribune.
He added Prime Minister Imran Khan floated the idea during a meeting with his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohamad.
In addition to joining hands against corruption, the leadership of both the countries also decided to strengthen cooperation in areas of defense, information technology, automobile and halal food.
Meanwhile, speaking at the joint news conference, Prime Minister Imran Khan appreciated the Malaysian leader and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan for taking a stand on issues affecting the Muslims in the world.
“Any crime committed by a Muslim is immediately blamed on 3.2 billion Muslims,” said the prime minister while urging the leadership of the Islamic countries to work together against Islamophobia.
Mahathir underscored the need to find ways at countering the feeling of hatred generated by the Western media against Muslims.
During the delegation-level talks, the Malaysian prime minister suggested that instead of taking revenge, the Muslim nations should work together to advocate the true image of Islam to the world, another participant of the meeting told The Express Tribune.
“Mahathir Mohamad is the statesman of the Muslim world and his views are heard and respected by everybody,” said Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry.
The Malaysian prime minister said three Malaysians were also martyred in the Christchurch mosque attack along with nine Pakistanis.
“The feeling of hatred is generated by the media and we need to find ways to win over the hearts and minds of people to combat Islamophobia,” said Mahathir.
He underscored the need of unity among the Muslim nations amid a rising wave of Islamophobia around the world.
“I have noticed that there is fear of and enmity towards us as Muslims. The recent terror attack in New Zealand claimed the lives of nine Pakistanis and affected three from Malaysia. This attack happened because of the feeling of hatred towards Muslims.”
Mahathir said Pakistan and Malaysia understood the need to find ways to combat Islamophobia. “This is our priority,” he said and added, “We must work to improve the perception of Muslims in the world.”
“We must change the prevailing atmosphere of fear; we must also realise that fighting back does not always mean killing each other,” said the visiting dignitary.
He, while emphasising the importance of economic growth, lamented that there was not a single Muslim country in the developed world.
“It is sad to note that not a single Muslim-majority country is truly developed. Malaysia’s aim was to become a developed nation by 2020.
Prime Minister Imran spoke about his government’s commitment to emulate Mahathir’s achievements in Malaysia.
Both the prime ministers highlighted issues related to corruption and vowed to work together to combat it.
Prime Minister Imran said his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was focused on rooting out corruption and said Malaysia’s progress in that sphere was a prime inspiration.
“We firmly believe that nations are not poor; rather, it is corruption that leads to a loss of resources,” the prime minister said and added, “Corruption destroys institutions and negates efforts for human development.”
“Corruption remains a major concerned for Malaysia,” Mahathir said and added that was why he came back to power with a promise to combat it which was rampant under the previous government.
The Malaysian prime minister said discussions were also held between the two countries on efforts to tackle terrorism. “We believe there is room for cooperation in this area and look forward to working out a comprehensive plan.”
Both the countries held discussions on significant issues affecting Pakistan, Malaysia and the larger Muslim world, said the Malaysian prime minister.
He said both the sides deliberated on ways to enhance “our economic relationship” and added there was no doubt that both the countries would benefit from increased trade.
“We have discussed the possibility of foreign direct investment and outlined other measures that Pakistan and Malaysia need to take to boost trade,” said Mahathir.
He said it was always useful to identify models for economic growth, adding Malaysia was inspired from the Japanese model.
Also, Finance Minister Asad Umar told the Express Tribune that Malaysia has invited Pakistan to display JF-17 Thunder fighter jet at their air show.
Pakistan and Malaysia signed memoranda of understandings (MoUs) to enhance cooperation in various fields, said the finance minister.
He said it was too early to say whether Malaysia was interested in buying JF-17 Thunder fighter jet; however, Malaysia has asked Pakistan to participate in a defense exhibition that will be held in there soon.
Umar said it was also decided to open bank branches in each other’s country to promote trade ties.
Meanwhile, a joint statement issued after the talks between the leadership of the two countries said the two prime ministers jointly officiated the symbolic ground-breaking ceremony of Proton plant in Islamabad, which would boost the manufacturing and services industry for both countries.
“Both leaders underpinned their shared desire to strengthen bilateral economic ties, expand trade and investment, create favourable conditions for commerce and business in both countries, the statement said.
“Malaysia expressed hope that Pakistan would continue to import more Malaysian palm oil and palm oil-based products, as well as, remove any non-tariff barriers on Malaysian goods and products,” it added.
The two leaders also exchanged views on the situation in Palestine and in the Rakhine State, Myanmar, involving Rohingya Muslims.
Prime Minister Imran Khan briefed Prime Minister Mahathir on the grave human rights situation in India Occupied Kashmir.
In this regard, Prime Minister Imran referred to the reports of UNOHCHR, Amnesty International, International People’s Tribunal and All Parties Parliamentary Kashmir Group, the UK.
He also discussed the role of the OIC Contact Group on Kashmir to highlight the issue.
With additional input from APP