Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Monday urged the OIC to approach the UN Secretary-General to appoint a special envoy — or at least a focal person — on Islamophobia which, he said, had reached an alarming level worldwide, especially in Europe.
“What is most worrisome is that Islamophobia continues to find strong resonance in political spheres in Europe, ultimately leading to institutionalisation of Islamophobia through new legislations and policies such as discriminatory travel bans and visa restrictions,” the foreign minister told a meeting of the OIC Contact Group on Muslims in Europe held on the sidelines of UN General Assembly’s 77th session.
The UN General Assembly last year adopted the landmark resolution, introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries, designating March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.
“The momentum generated by this resolution should be maintained,” Bilawal said.
“Today, one of the worst manifestations of such Islamophobia is in Hindutva-inspired India,” he said, adding, “Driven by the ideology of hate against Muslims, the (ruling) BJP-RSS regime is executing its century-old plan to obliterate India’s Islamic legacy and to transform India into an exclusive Hindu state.
Meanwhile, reaffirming its full support to the Palestinian people’s struggle for self-determination and against foreign occupation, Pakistan on Monday urged the international community to help them establish an independent state of their own with Al-Quds al-Sharif as its capital.
“The festering wound of Israeli occupation and atrocities in occupied Palestine is the principal source of instability, tensions and conflict in the entire Middle East,” Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari told a meeting of OIC’s Committee of Six on Palestine, which was held on the margins of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly.
“To bring peace and stability to the Middle East, the issue of Palestine — the source of the region’s insecurity and its multiple conflicts — must be effectively addressed as the first and most urgent priority,” he added.
The OIC Committee of Six on Palestine comprises the foreign ministers of Pakistan, Senegal, Malaysia, and Guinea Plus the OIC secretary general, with the Palestinian Authority’s top diplomat as its sixth member.
At the outset, FM Bilawal strongly condemned Israel’s continued killing and wounding of Palestinian civilians, including children; violation of the sanctity of the holy places, the demolition of Palestinian homes and the forcible displacement of Palestinian families; and the brazen murder of the Palestinian journalist, Shireen Abu Aqleh.
As the chairman of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, he said, Pakistan remains ready to join hands with other member states in any move to stop the ongoing bloodshed, and restore the human dignity and human rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories.
The foreign minister said all necessary steps must be taken to stop the ongoing aggression against the Palestinian people.
In conclusion, Bilawal reaffirmed Pakistan’s abiding support for the Palestinian people in their just struggle to secure legitimate rights, particularly their inalienable right to self-determination.