Nine Pakistanis dead in twin attacks on New Zealand mosques

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Mourners lays flowers on a wall at the Botanical Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand, Saturday, March 16, 2019. New Zealand's stricken residents reached out to Muslims in their neighbourhoods and around the country on Saturday, in a fierce determination to show kindness to a community in pain as a 28-year-old white supremacist stood silently before a judge, accused in mass shootings at two mosques that left dozens of people dead. (AP)
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Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Foreign Office Spokesman Dr. Mohammad Faisal address a press conference in Islamabad on Sunday. (Photo credit: Foreign Office)
Updated 17 March 2019

Nine Pakistanis dead in twin attacks on New Zealand mosques

  • Pakistani Foreign Minister says national flag will fly at half-mast on Monday in solidarity with attack victims
  • Calls emergency meeting of OIC foreign ministers on March 22 to discuss response to rising Islamophobia

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Sunday Pakistan’s national flag would fly at half-mast on Monday in solidarity with the families of victims of attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, confirming that nine Pakistanis had perished in the twin assaults.

Around 50 people were killed in the twin attacks on Friday that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was quick to describe as a terrorist act. A list of people missing in the attack released by New Zealand Red Cross included nationals from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Jordan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Nine Pakistanis were killed in the attack, the foreign minister confirmed, and one Pakistani was in critical condition and “not out of danger.”

“The whole nation is in mourning and the prime minister has decided that our national flag will fly at half-mast tomorrow,” Qureshi said at a news conference.

The foreign minister said the process of identification of Pakistanis who were killed in the attack had been completed and New Zealand authorities would start handing over bodies to heirs on Monday. He said New Zealand had agreed to keep the Pakistani foreign ministry in the loop as it went ahead with investigating Friday's attacks.

“We are in touch with all ten families here,” the foreign minister said. “Six of the families want their loved ones to be buried in Christchurch, while three bodies will be sent back to Pakistan. The process will begin from Monday.”

He paid special tribute to Naeem Rashid, a Pakistani victim who was shown in video footage of the attack, live streamed by the gunman, launching himself at the attacker in an attempt to disarm him. He was gunned down. Rashid would be honored with a national award on Pakistan Day, March 23, Qureshi said.

The foreign minister said an emergency meeting of foreign ministers of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries had been called in Istanbul on March 22 to discuss the causes of Islamophobia and ways forward in the aftermath of the attacks in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

"The idea [behind summoning the meeting] is to devise a strategy against Islamophobia, while keeping the Christchurch tragedy in mind," Qureshi said.

He said he had contacted leader of the opposition Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Asif Ali Zardari, and would discuss the National Action Plan, Pakistan’s primary counter-terrorism blueprint, with all parliamentary leaders on March 28.

On Friday, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the New Zealand attack on Twitter and said: “I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 (where) 1.3 billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror.”


Pakistan ‘wants to play its role’ for peace in Middle East – FO

Updated 12 January 2020

Pakistan ‘wants to play its role’ for peace in Middle East – FO

  • Work on foreign minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United States being done
  • Pakistan’s strong relations with regional countries has made it an important player

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated on Thursday that the country was going to play its role in restoring peace in the Middle East by working with other international stakeholders in the region.

“Pakistan welcomes de-escalation and wants to play its role in ensuring peace and stability in the region. We have seen that indication in United States President [Donald] Trump’s speech and are evaluating its contours,” the country’s foreign office spokesperson, Aisha Farooqui, said in her weekly media briefing in Islamabad on Thursday.

She said that Pakistan’s geographical position, along with its strong relations with regional countries and the United States, had made it a significant player in the Middle East.

“Pakistan has maintained that war is not the solution to any issue and made it clear that it will not become part of any regional conflict,” she said.

The spokesperson noted that Islamabad had enhanced its efforts to defuse tensions in the region and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had contacted his counterparts in Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and many other important states in this connection.

“All the international players, including Saudi Arabia, have said that the region cannot afford another war and asked for restraint from both parties [the US and Iran]. It’s a collective objective of all countries to ensure peace and stability in the Middle East,” she said.

Commenting on the foreign minister’s upcoming visit to Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the US, she said that “work on these tours has already started and they will take place as soon as dates are finalized with the respective countries.”

“We are very mindful for our brotherly and friendly relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other regional countries. Pakistan and the US also enjoy longstanding relations and have contacts with each other through multiple forums including political and military leadership,” Farooqui said, adding that the foreign office had established a task force to continuously monitor the situation in the Middle East and inform the government about it along with its suggestions on a daily basis.

The spokesperson expressed hope that recent developments in the Middle East would not affect the ongoing Afghan peace process.

“Pakistan hopes that progress made on Afghan peace process will not come to a halt and the world community will not lose its focus as a result of the ongoing tensions in the Middle East,” she said.

Asked about the safety of Pakistani nationals in Iraq, she said the country’s embassy in Baghdad was on the alert to deal with any emergency situation.

“We are concerned about the safety of Pakistani citizens in Iraq and have issued an advisory in this regard. We have also instructed our mission in Baghdad to remain vigilant to deal with any emergency,” Farooqui said.