Remarks by the Foreign Minister of Pakistan at International Interfaith Peace Conference

Islamabad, November 24, 2021 (PPI-OT):Honourable Moulana Syed Muhammad Abdul Khabir Azad, Chairman Markazi Ruet e Hilal Committee of Pakistan, Honourable Dr. Abdul Kareem Eisa, Secretary General World Muslim League Ladies and Gentlemen, Assalam o Alaikum, Thank you for extending me the honour of addressing this highly important and timely conference.

In today’s polarized world characterized by extremism, supremacist ideologies, conflicts and festering disputes promotion of inter-faith harmony has assumed unparalleled significance. Despite malicious propaganda, there is a growing realization in the world that Islam is a religion of peace that does not condone, encourage or promote terrorism or violent extremism.

Islam firmly rejects notions of racial superiority and discrimination on the basis of caste and creed. The Last Sermon of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is the most definitive and unequivocal rejection of racism. It is a timeless beacon of hope for humanity.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mankind has suffered immensely due to materialism, fanatical nationalism and racism. Today, more than ever, we need genuine inter-civilizational dialogue and interfaith harmony to save billions of people from conflict, poverty, disease and hunger. In this regard, we are guided by the Quranic principle that there is no compulsion in matters of faith.

Pakistan has a rich tradition of tolerance, understanding and respect for cultural values of minorities. The spirit of interfaith harmony is reflected in the green and white of our national flag and is codified in our constitution. Our founding father Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s speech before the Constituent Assembly on 11 August 1947 was a forceful enunciation of religious tolerance: He said “You are free; you are free to go to your temples.

You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed; that has nothing to do with the business of the state.” Pakistan is the land of Sufi saints whose message of respect for diversity, humanism and compassion resonates across the country. Being on the crossroads of civilizations, Pakistan is a rich mosaic characterized by a confluence of cultures and amalgamation of ideas and wisdom.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Guided by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of promoting tolerance and interfaith harmony, Pakistan opened up Kartarpur Corridor for our Sikh brethren. Similarly, efforts are underway to protect religious sites and promote festivals of other religions. The Government of Pakistan’s vision and efforts stand in stark contrast with the policies and actions of the BJP government which is driven by racism and intolerance.

The plight of minorities in general, and Kashmiris in particular flies in the face of India’s claims of being a secular and democratic country. The world must make the Indian government realize that sacrificing Muslims and other minorities at the altar of populism poses a grave threat to humanist ideals as well as regional peace and security.

Pakistan is committed to sparing no effort to promote harmony and understanding between different religions, cultures and civilizations. The global Covid-19 pandemic is a wakeup call for all of us. It has led to the realization that shunning conflicts and intolerance and promoting understanding and cooperation hold the key to the survival of mankind.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Pakistan has been at the forefront of efforts to promote understanding of the deep veneration in which the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is held by Muslims. The west must not encourage or tolerate the abuse of freedom of expression to injure the sentiments of nearly two billion Muslims. Prime Minister Imran Khan has championed this noble cause at the highest forums.

Let me conclude by expressing the hope that our Ulema and Mashaikh will strengthen the Government’s hand in promoting interfaith harmony within Pakistan and with the rest of the world. May Almighty Allah grant us success-Ameen.

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