Paris attacks aftermath: Pakistan concerned about anti-Muslim hate crimes

Foreign Office spokesperson says terrorist actions cannot be blamed on Islam

Our Correspondent November 27, 2015
A file photo of Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah. PHOTO: PID


Pakistan on Thursday expressed serious concern over the rise in ‘hate crimes’ against Muslims living in the west in the aftermath of the grisly Paris attacks.

“I agree that hate crimes against Muslims have soared in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Europe,” Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khaliullah said at his weekly news briefing in Islamabad.

At least 130 people were killed when militants thought to be linked with the Islamic State mounted coordinated terrorist attacks in the French capital on November 13. Human rights groups feared that the latest terrorist attacks could have serious backlash for Muslims living in the European countries.

Qazi said Pakistan had always stressed the need for tolerance and interfaith harmony. “Acts of terrorism committed in the name of Islam cannot be blamed on Muslims. Islam advocates peace and brotherhood,” he stressed.

“Terrorists have no religion. No one should be targeted on the basis of religion. The focus must remain on targeting terrorists,” he added.

Russia-Turkey tensions

Qazi said Pakistan was deeply concerned over escalating tensions between Moscow and Ankara following the downing of a Russian military jet by Turkey’s air force near the border with Syria.

Turkey has insisted it shot down the Russian jet for violating its airspace, although Moscow denied the claim.

The spokesperson said Pakistan was closely following the developments surrounding the downing of the Russian military jet on November 24.

“We are concerned over the escalation of tensions in the region and urge all concerned to exercise utmost restraint and resolve the issue peacefully through dialogue,” he said.

Executions in Bangladesh

Qazi defended Pakistan’s reaction to the recent hangings of two opposition leaders in Bangladesh. He said Pakistan’s statement was in accordance with the spirit of the agreement signed by Pakistan, India and Bangladesh in 1974.

“This would foster goodwill and harmony. We have emphasized this earlier as well. We have also expressed concern in the past with regard to developments in Bangladesh relating to events of 1971,” he said.

Bangladesh, however, termed Pakistan’s move as interference in its internal matter and summoned the country’s High Commissioner to register a protest over it.

The foreign office spokesperson said Pakistan had taken note of ‘demarche’ given to the High Commissioner in Dhaka. “These have several elements which warrant a response. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would call in the Bangladesh High Commissioner to respond to these points,” he said.

Despite apparent strain in ties, Qazi said Pakistan and Bangladesh “enjoy brotherly relations and share historic bonds.” “Our relations are independent of influence of any other country and do not depend on the state of Pakistan’s relations with any third country,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th,  2015.


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