Religious dialogue vital to save world from hunger, poverty: Qureshi

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Wednesday emphasised the need for inter-civilisational dialogue and interfaith harmony to save billions of people across the globe from conflict, poverty, disease and hunger.

Addressing at the International Interfaith Peace Conference here, the foreign minister said promotion of inter-faith harmony had assumed unparalleled significance in today’s polarised world characterised by extremism, supremacist ideologies, conflicts, and festering disputes.

The foreign minister said Pakistan was committed to sparing no effort to promote harmony and understanding between different religions, cultures, and civilisations.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic was a wake-up call for all, leading to the realisation that shunning conflicts and intolerance and promoting understanding and cooperation hold the key to the survival of mankind.

He mentioned that ​Pakistan was at the forefront of efforts to promote understanding of the deep veneration held by Muslims for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

He stressed that the West must not encourage or tolerate the abuse of freedom of expression to injure the sentiments of about two billion followers of Islam.

He said Islam firmly rejects notions of racial superiority and discrimination on the basis of caste and creed.

Despite malicious propaganda, he said, there was a growing realisation in the world that Islam is a religion of peace that does not condone, encourage or promote terrorism or violent extremism.

The foreign minister referred to the last sermon of the prophet as the “most definitive and unequivocal rejection of racism” and a timeless beacon of hope for humanity.

He said Pakistan had a rich tradition of tolerance, understanding, and respect for the 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, he added.

Qureshi mentioned Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s speech before the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, was a forceful enunciation of religious tolerance.

He said 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 civilisations, he said, Pakistan is a rich mosaic characterised by a confluence of cultures and amalgamation of ideas and wisdom.

He mentioned that guided by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of promoting tolerance and interfaith harmony, Pakistan had opened up Kartarpur Corridor for the Sikh brethren. Similarly, efforts are underway to protect religious sites and promote festivals of other religions.

Qureshi pointed out the government vision and efforts stood in stark contrast with the policies and actions of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government which was 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, he added.

He urged upon the world to make the Indian government realise 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.

He expressed confidence that clerics would strengthen the government’s hand in promoting interfaith harmony within Pakistan and with the rest of the world.

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