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Today Pakistan joins the international community in expressing solidarity with and support to the victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief. This is an important occasion to renew global solidarity in countering discrimination, hatred, and acts of violence against people and communities on the basis of religion or belief.

Guided by the vision of our founding fathers, Pakistan has always been at the forefront of all international initiatives for promoting peace, tolerance, inter-cultural and inter-faith harmony and respect both at home and abroad.

On the basis of the principles enshrined in our constitution, the Government has taken a number of steps domestically to promote freedom on the basis of religion or belief and protecting minorities, including establishment of the National Commission for Minorities,and restoration of places of worship of minorities. We opened the Kartarpur Corridor, and constructed the world’s largest Gurdwara, allowing easy access to our Sikh brethren from the neighborhood and across the world. The UN Secretary General termed it as a “corridor of hope”.

As we commemorate this day, we are particularly alarmed at the global resurgence of xenophobia, hatred and acts of violence against minorities. Even as victims of violence belong to diverse religious minorities across the world, there is a disproportionate growth in hate speech and stigmatization of Muslim communities and individuals, leading to acts of violence. Prime Minister Imran Khan has been raising awareness about this phenomenon and remains in the vanguard of international efforts to counter Islamophobia.

In our own region, the BJP-RSS regime in India,inspired by the extremist “Hindutva” ideology, has embarked upon a sinister design to “cleanse” India of the vestiges of its Islamic heritage, and make Muslims second class citizens, and even non-citizens. Suffering of Muslims of India has increased manifold during COVID-19 due to targeted disinformation and deliberate hate campaigns against them.

As the world stands for victims of violence based on religion and belief, it must also call on India to immediately lift its inhuman military siege in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). For over a year, the people of IIOJK have been deprived of all fundamental freedoms,including their right to perform their religious duties. India must be held accountable for its serious crimes against the Kashmiri people.

On its part, Pakistan will continue to advance international efforts to protect individuals against xenophobia, intolerance, discrimination, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, violence and incitement to violence based on religion or belief.

22 August 2020

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