Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Thursday said the Dutch government has announced to call off the competition of blasphemous caricatures planned by far-right politician Geert Wilders, an avowed anti-Islamist, ARY News reported.
Wilders’ plan to hold the blasphemous event at his PVV party’s offices in parliament stirred extreme anger among Muslims, particularly in Pakistan.
Mehmood Qureshi said Holland’s ambassador to Pakistan conveyed him through a message that the contest was cancelled.
“We will have to make a strong strategy to do away with the issue of blasphemous caricatures once and for all. We will achieve this task through diplomacy,” he said.
The foreign minister said sentiments of Muslims in Europe were also hurt.
“We informed the Dutch foreign minister about sentiments of the Pakistan government and the people.
“The minister said the event had nothing to do with his government and it was a job of the individual person. He said the government did not support the blasphemous acts,” he said.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, in a statement, has distanced his government from the cartoon competition, saying it was not a government initiative.
Rutte last week said he believed the competition was not respectful and aimed only to provoke.
Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan would still raise the issue at international forum including at the United Nations and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
He underscored that the abominable act of the Dutch parliamentarian was provoking the sentiments of Muslims across the world. He said such acts spread hatred and intolerance.
Qureshi said Pakistan had written letters to six countries of the OIC to develop a unified stance of the Muslim world on the blasphemous cartoon competition in the Netherlands.
He said a letter had also been sent to the OIC secretary general for convening an emergency meeting of the committee of the OIC representatives on the issue.
The foreign minister said the government had also raised the matter with the United Nations General Secretary, Human Rights Council of the UN, European Union, and other relevant forums.
He said the issue will also be taken up at the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers to be held on the sidelines of upcoming UN General Assembly session in New York next month.
He said the Pakistani government and its people were on the same page against blasphemous caricatures.
It is pertinent to mention that after the announcement by the Netherlands government, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has also called off its protest on its second day in Islamabad. The TLP was demanding to cut diplomatic ties with Holland over the blasphemous cartoon competition.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday took a strong stance on the issue of the blasphemous caricatures in the Netherlands.
In a video message, the prime minister urged for unity to give a strong message over the issue which has hurt sentiments of Muslims across the world.
He categorically stated that this was not the issue of a few people, but has hurt feelings of the community of over a billion Muslims across the globe.