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Pakistan urges UN to address anti-Islam film

Publication Date : 26-09-2012

 

Pakistan yesterday moved the United Nations to immediately address the alarming situation created by an anti-Islam video and “bridge the widening rift to enable the comity of nations to be one again”.

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, who announced this step in his address to the 67th UN General Assembly, began his speech with a strong condemnation of the blasphemous video and urged the international community not to remain silent to such provocations.

Although overshadowed by the dispute over the blasphemous video, the other issues that the president raised in his speech were equally important. He urged the international community to understand Paksitan’s concerns over drone attacks in Fata region and to “stop the do more mantra”.

Speaking hours after US President Barack Obama condemned the video and the consequent violence, President Zardari too criticised those attacking innocent people in retaliation but reminded the world of its obligation to deal with this divisive issue as well.

“Before I take up my speech, I want to express the strongest condemnation for the acts of incitement of hate against the faith of billions of Muslims of the world and our beloved Prophet, Muhammad,” the president said.

“Although we can never condone violence, the international community must not become silent observers and should criminalise such acts that destroy the peace of the world and endanger world security by misusing freedom of expression.”

The president noted that the international community was asking a lot of questions of Pakistan these days but said he had not come to the UN to answer those questions.

“The people of Pakistan have already answered them. The politicians of Pakistan have answered them. The soldiers of Pakistan have answered them,” he said.

“We have lost over seven thousand Pakistani soldiers and policemen and over 37,000 civilians.”

The Pakistani government, he said, had lost a minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, a governor, Salman Taseer, and many senior military and civilian officials in the war against terrorism.

“And I need not remind my friends here today, that I bear a personal scar… my wife Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was martyred through the bullets and bombs of terrorists,” he said.

The president noted that terrorism and extremism had destroyed human lives in Pakistan, torn social fabric, and devastated the economy.

“Our economy, our lives, our ability to live in the shadow of our Sufi saints and our freedom-loving forefathers have been challenged,” he said.

The president, however, assured the world that Pakistan had responded forcefully to these challenges.

“We have responded. Our soldiers have responded. So I am not here to answer questions about Pakistan,” he said.

“I am here to ask some questions on behalf of my people. On behalf of the two-year-old baby who was killed in the bombing at Lahore’s Moon Market on Dec 7, 2009.

“On behalf of Pervaiz Masih, a Christian Pakistani, who was killed with six others, trying to protect Muslim Pakistanis during a bomb attack on the Islamic University in Islamabad on Oct 20, 2009.

“On behalf of Mr Ghayoor, the Commandant of the Frontier Constabulary Police Force in Peshawar, who was martyred by militants on Aug 4, 2010.

“On behalf of traders and businessmen in Peshawar, Quetta, Lahore and Karachi, of the dozens of marketplaces that have been ravaged by multiple bombings. Over and over and over again.

“And perhaps most of all, on behalf of my three children, whose mother Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was also martyred by terrorists.”

The president noted that no country and no people had suffered more in the epic struggle against terrorism, than Pakistan.

Drone attacks

“Drone strikes and civilian casualties on our territory add to the complexity of our battle for hearts and minds through this epic struggle,” he said.

“To those who say we have not done enough, I say in all humility: Please do not insult the memory of our dead, and the pain of our living. Do not ask of my people, what no one has ever asked of any other peoples. Do not demonise the innocent women, and children of Pakistan.

“And please, stop this refrain to do more.”

The simplest question of all, he said, would be: “How much more suffering can Pakistan endure?”

The president noted that Pakistan’s engagement with the United Nations had a long and glorious history as Pakistan had consistently been among the top UN peacekeeping troop contributors for many years.

Zardari said that Pakistan would continue to support the right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to peacefully choose their destiny in accordance with the UN Security Council’s long-standing resolutions on this matter.

“Kashmir remains a symbol of the failures, rather than strengths of the UN system,” he said.

While welcoming Pakistan’s election to the UN Security Council, the president said the UN system must become more democratic and more accountable. Reform should be based on consensus and democratic principles, he added.

Pakistan, he said, supported the rights of the Palestinian people and an independent Palestinian state and also favoured the admission of Palestine as a full member of the United Nations.

 

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