ISLAMABAD  -  National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser has called for forging unity among ranks of Asian nations in order to turn the current century truly as an ‘Asian Century’.

He was speaking to the Asia Pacific Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Qatar, said a press release issued here.

The speaker arrived in Qatar yesterday to lead the 35-member Asia-Pacific Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which is holding its 140th General Assembly. It is for the first time in Pakistan’s history that the country has been chosen as a chair for the important geopolitical group of Asia Pacific. Besides important nations of South and South East Asia, including China, the group also includes, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The meeting of the group, which was held prior to the inaugural ceremony, deliberated in detail the crucial five emergency items, focusing on critical issues of xenophobia, Islamophobia, protection for Muslim minorities all over the world, plight of Palestinian people and humanitarian crisis in wake of the cyclone-hit African countries of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Turkey and Indonesia had moved separate resolutions on Islamophobia while Kuwait and Morocco were pressing for the resolutions on Palestinian people and Holland is the proponent of the humanitarian crisis in the African continent.

Chairing the meeting, Speaker Asad Qaiser stressed on adopting a unified Asian approach. He noted that two of the proponents of the emergency items on Xenophobia, Turkey and Indonesia, were also the members of the Asia-Pacific Group and so it was important that the two countries clubbed their respective resolutions in a consensus draft. The suggestion from Pakistan was accepted by the Group.

Later, in his remarks as chairperson, the speaker offered his condolences to the people and parliament of New Zealand over the barbaric act of terrorism at the Christchurch mosque on March 15 this year, which claimed the innocent lives of 50 worshippers. He stressed on invoking the dictums of parliamentary diplomacy, ensuring regular and frequent contacts among the Asian legislators, in order to develop better understanding on issues of terrorism, poverty, xenophobia and clash of civilizations, badly hampering the harmonious development across continents, especially the Asian continent. As chair of the group, the speaker offered Pakistan’s complete support to any such effort.

Later, Asad Qaiser held a meeting with his counterpart from Oman, Khalid Al Mawali, the chairman of the Shura Council of Oman. The Omani chairman congratulated the speaker on his success in the last general elections and becoming Pakistan’s 21st speaker.

Speaker Asad Qaiser noted that Oman and Pakistan had historic brotherly ties and had been supporting each other on all important issues. He stressed on expanding the economic relations and in this regard, both sides agreed to boost bilateral parliamentary relations.

In a packed three-day schedule, the speaker will also be holding other important bilateral meetings with his counterparts. Apart from addressing the General Assembly of the IPU on the critical theme of “Parliaments as platforms to enhance education for peace, security and the rule of law,” speaker Asad Qaisar has also been invited as a guest speaker by the president of the IPU Ms Gabriela Cuevas Barron to deliver a keynote at a special forum, deliberating on “Low Trust in Democracy: An Urgent Call to Rethink Our Governance Models”.

The Doha IPU has acquired immense importance for the fact that it is for the first time that any Arab country is hosting the largest international parliamentary gathering. As many as 80 speakers and chairpersons of the parliaments and 810 legislators from 158 countries from all over the world have gathered in the Qatari Capital.

Speaker Asad Qaiser is leading a joint delegation of the Pakistan Parliament, comprising senators Raza Rabbani, Walid Iqbal and Shahzaib Durrani and MNAs Shazia Marri, Sher Ali Arbab, Rana Tanveer Ul Hassan, Agha Hassan Baloch and Dr. Nausheen Hameed.