Address at the UN: Zardari to appeal for religious tolerance
NEW YORK, Sept 24: President Asif Ali Zardari will urge the international community to take steps to prevent miscreants from stoking religious hatred when he addresses the UN General Assembly on Tuesday afternoon, officials said.
Briefing Pakistani journalists in New York, a member of the presidential delegation to the UN said the president would also tell the world how an offensive film had hurt more than a billion Muslims.
“The president will share the sentiments of the Pakistani nation on this issue with the rest of the world,” the official said.
He noted that for the last three decades, Pakistan and other Muslim nations had been presenting a resolution in the UN every year, urging the world body to ban offensive and blasphemous materials.
Commenting on Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf’s statement that Pakistan would urge the United Nations to make a law against blasphemy, the official said the Pakistani government realised that such laws were not made overnight.
He agreed with a journalist that it took decades to make such a law but said Pakistan wanted to initiate this process.
Referring to an anti-Islam film produced in the US by an Egyptian Coptic with a criminal record, the official noted that such materials “endanger world peace as well by hurting religious feelings of millions of people”.
That’s why, he said, Pakistan believed that the United Nations should play its role in settling this dispute.
“We desire the UN to take steps that bring world’s religions close to each other, rather than creating new feuds among them,” he said.
The official said Pakistan might also present a resolution in the United Nations on this issue at an appropriate time.
“Whatever the president says at the UNGA on Tuesday will be extremely positive, aimed at bridging differences and at improving religious tolerance,” he said.
The official noted that a Pakistani federal minister’s offer of bounty for the producer of the offensive film had led to negative comments in the international media but so far no government had raised this issue with Islamabad.
“We will respond if we are approached,” he said.—Masood Haider and Anwar Iqbal