Islamabad, January 30, 2013 (PPI-OT): On the invitation of the Rt. Hon Baroness Warsi PC, Senior Minister of State Commonwealth, the Advisor to the Prime Minister, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar participated in the first meeting of Core International Ministerial Group of leading individuals from different countries held on 22nd January in London. The agenda of the meeting was Building Political Support for UN HRC Resolution 16/18: Tackling religious intolerance and fostering religious freedom and pluralism.
While addressing to the participants of the meeting, the Advisor highlighted that the resolution 16/18 that was the result of the effort led by Pakistan prohibits stigmatization, negative stereotyping, racial profiling and Islam phobia. More importantly, the resolution puts forward an action plan to ensure against religious intolerance.
The most important step in this plan was to criminalize incitement to violence on the basis of religion. He further said that we have to be aware that the freedom of expression is not absolute but must be exercised responsibly in order to prevent incitement to violence.
The Advisor further said that Resolution 16/18 has become the basis for similar resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2011 and 2012 as well as by the Human Rights Council in 2012.
While pointing out the significance of the meeting the Advisor said that conference is taking place in the wake of significant incidents like burning copies of the Holy Quran in the US and the release of the blasphemous film “Innocence of Muslims”on YouTube.
No sane man can claim that these two incidents are manifestations of freedom of expression. Muslims throughout the world have been unanimous in their condemnation of these two deliberate attempts to incite violence. Then there have been momentous democratic changes in many countries, especially in the Middle East.
He further enunciated that criminalizing incitement to violence based on religion or belief is the essence of resolution 16/18. This is the crux of the matter which needs to be implemented. From our perspective, it seems that we need to reach an agreement on clear demarcation of the limits between freedom of expression and incitement to violence.
The Advisor stressed that inaction towards implementing the requirement to criminalize incitement to violence has the potential to undo the progress that has been made on this issue. He further said that there is a dire need to adopt an inclusive approach while engaging with especially with the countries that are perceived in the West to be taking a tougher line.
The Advisor stressed the need for full implementation of resolution 16/18 in letter and spirit. The spirit of cooperation that had made this possible must be honoured by all.
The Advisor assured that Pakistan is ready and willing to play its role in maintaining this consensus and ensuring that the progress made so far is not undone. However, we hope that all the countries would reciprocate this spirit.
In the end, the Advisor thanked the participants and especially the host, Rt. Hon. Baroness WARSI, PC, Senior Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister for Faith and Communities.
The participants of the meeting included Rt Hon The Baroness WARSI PC, Senior Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister for Faith and Communities, Mr Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the delegates of various leading countries.
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