New York, April 24, 2015 (PPI-OT): Calling for a clear distinction between free speech and hate speech, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told the UN General Assembly that confusion on this issue had provided space for extremists to promote their twisted ideology and agenda.
She was participating in a debate on “Promoting Tolerance and Reconciliation and Countering Violent Extremism”.
“The rise of Islamophobia in the West had further fuelled extremist thinking”, she said.
Ambassador Lodhi said “violent extremism poses one of the world’s most imposing challenges today that affects us all; as states and societies”. “Its manifestations and drivers are not intrinsic or extrinsic to any culture, religion or society. It has both local and international dimensions, with a complex interplay between them”, she added.
Welcoming the timely debate in the General Assembly, Ambassador Lodhi argued for a two-pronged strategy; a clear understanding and informed discussion about its nature and dimensions along with efforts to address underlying causes so as to construct and shape narratives as well as strategies and responses.
Emphasizing the importance of developing understanding among civilizations and respect for each other faiths, Ambassador Lodhi said that education and educational programmes have a key role to play and must be nationally owned. “Curriculum lies at the heart of educational efforts and should therefore focus on promoting tolerance, harmony and reconciliation”, she added.
Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said that the UN has an important role to play in curbing terrorism. She called for full and effective implementation of the UN’s Global Counter Terrorism Strategy, in particular its Pillar One, which deals with addressing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism.
Pakistan also proposed the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly to develop an effective Counter Violent Extremism strategy in collaboration with relevant UN bodies.
She told the world body that as part of its National Action Plan to Counter Terrorism, Pakistan has adopted a comprehensive strategy to address violent extremism. This plan was being implemented in a systematic way.
Pakistan, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said, was also actively involved in various UN and other international initiatives to combat intolerance and violence on the basis of religion and working to promote inter-religious and intercultural dialogue.
“These initiatives at the national and international level are emblematic of Pakistan’s firm commitment to defeat violent extremism and promote a culture of dialogue, understanding and cooperation between all religions and civilizations of the world”, she added.
Pakistan, she said,” unequivocally condemned terrorism and violent extremism, committed by whomsoever, wherever and for whatever purpose.
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