ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi yesterday urged the United Nations Human Rights Council to take notice of the closure of Amnesty International office in India.

In a statement, he said the Amnesty International was compelled to shut its office in India when it started exposing the blatant human rights violations in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir and unmasking police’s complicity in anti-Muslim riots in Delhi.

The Foreign Minister said human rights organizations including those in India should raise their voice against the Indian acts.

“The true face of India stands exposed,” he said while expressing concerns over the attitude being meted out to minorities especially Muslims in India.

Separately, the Foreign Minister addressed the Group of Friends of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations at a high-level virtual meeting commemorating its 15th anniversary.

The event was co-hosted by the Foreign Ministers of Spain and Turkey, and chaired by the High Representative of UNAOC.

The Foreign Minister commended the work of the Alliance of Civilizations in advancing mutual respect for diverse cultures, traditions and religious beliefs. 

He reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to the promotion of inter-faith and inter-cultural harmony. Its recent manifestation was the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, the world’s largest Gurdwara, allowing easy access to our Sikh brethren from the neighbourhood and all across the world to practice their religious rites.

The Foreign Minister cautioned that the sounds of ‘Clash of Civilizations’ were still reverberating around the world. He expressed anguish at the exploitation of COVID-related fears to stoke racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, stigmatization, and violence against vulnerable minorities, including in our own neighbourhood.

The Foreign Minister also highlighted the disturbing rise in Islamophobia, evident in the manifestos of far-right and neo-fascist parties, the politicization and censorship of the hijab (veil), cow vigilantism, burning of the Holy Quran, deliberate vandalizing of Islamic symbols and holy sites, and attempts at incitement through the publication of hurtful caricatures. He urged the international community to build bridges and respect each other’s religions and beliefs.

The Foreign Minister reiterated the call made by Prime Minister Imran Khan to universally outlaw wilful provocation and incitement to hate and violence, and to designate an International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

The Alliance of Civilisations was established in 2005 as a leading UN platform for inter-cultural dialogue to promote understanding between diverse nations and communities. Pakistan is part of its “Group of Friends” which meets on a regular basis to discuss UNAOC’s current programmes, new initiatives and other activities.