Pakistan wants new definition of terrorism, sanctions against anti-Muslim terror outfits

Participants at an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference in Istanbul on Friday, convened in response to the recent attacks on two mosques in New Zealand in which 50 Muslims were killed. (Picture Courtesy: OIC via Twitter)
Updated 22 March 2019

Pakistan wants new definition of terrorism, sanctions against anti-Muslim terror outfits

  • Foreign Minister Qureshi attends OIC emergency meeting in Istanbul to discuss last week’s attacks on two New Zealand mosques 
  • Pakistan calls for special session of United Nations General Assembly on emerging threats to Muslims

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Friday that the scope and definition of terrorism should be broadened to include attacks on Muslims and sanctions should also be imposed on Islamophobic groups and individuals.

Qureshi was speaking at an emergency meeting of the OIC held in Istanbul to discuss last week’s attacks on two New Zealand mosques and "increasing violence based on Islamophobia.”

At least 50 people, including nine Pakistanis, were killed in twin attacks by an ultra-right white extremist who live-streamed the assaults and posted an elaborate racist manifesto online. 

Speaking to media after the meeting, Qureshi said a joint communique had been issued with six proposals, four of them put forth by Pakistan.

"The first proposal was that the scope and definition of terrorism be broadened,” Qureshi said. “And the imposition of sanctions should not be limited to entities such as Al Qaeda, Daesh, etc … but those elements which reek of Islamophobia should also be included in the list of those sanctioned.”

He said the second proposal was that a special session of the United Nations General Assembly be held on the topic of Islamophobia, and the third that the OIC secretary general should work on the removal of Islamophobic content from social media. 

"The fourth thing that was proposed was that a special rapporteur be appointed who monitors Islamophobia and presents recommendations on how to counter it,” the Pakistani foreign minister said. 

Apart from foreign ministers from 20 Muslim countries, representatives of various international organisations, such as the United Nations and European Union, also attended as observers.

Addressing the OIC meeting earlier, Qureshi said the Christchurch attacks in New Zealand were not an "isolated act of a lone maniac” but “a grim reminder of the tide of Islamophobia sweeping the world.”

"Today, symptoms of this disease are writ large on the face of many societies,” he said. “It is writ large in the manifestos of far-right parties that call for expulsion of Muslims ... in the vandalizing of Islamic symbols and sites … in the growing racial profiling and stigmatization of Muslims, particularly where Muslims are in minority.”

India’s Magsaysay award winner says ‘democracy is in danger’

Updated 07 October 2019

India’s Magsaysay award winner says ‘democracy is in danger’

  • Kumar is pained by the decline of independent institutions that have upheld the flags of democracy for more than seven decades

NEW DELHI: Ravish Kumar is nervous about the “danger that Indian democracy is facing today” and how “a systematic attempt is being made by the ruling establishment in Delhi to suppress all the dissenting voices in the country.

“Journalism prepares you to face the unknown everyday, so I was not really surprised when I got the call from the (Magsaysay) award committee,” Kumar said.

“The problem was that I was asked to keep it a secret until they had made a public announcement. It was painful to keep quiet for almost a month,” he told Arab News with a smile.

“When the news became public, I realized what I had been bestowed with. I feel the award is a vindication of trust in good journalism. People felt as if the award had been bestowed on them,” he added.

It is this concern for democracy and its institutions that earned Kumar the prestigious Magsaysay award for 2019.

Instituted in 1957, it is awarded every year by the Philippine government in memory of its former president Ramon Magsaysay for “integrity in governance, courageous service to the people and pragmatic idealism within a democratic society.”

Kumar, who works as a managing editor of India’s leading bilingual TV channel, NDTV, has created a niche for himself in the world of journalism with his daily primetime show, which draws huge audiences from across India. 

At a time when most mainstream TV channels and newspapers have stopped questioning the government and challenging its narrative, Kumar’s reporting takes a critical approach to the lawmakers.

For this constant critique of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the government does not send any of its spokespersons on his show or the channel.

He laments that a large section of the Indian media has become “an extended arm of the government and the mouthpiece of the establishment.”

For his outspoken attitude, Kumar and his family have received threats from “people who are subsidized by the ruling party.”

“I don’t have any hope for the media. It is dead in the country. Just a few are holding the placard of fearless journalism,” he said, adding that “the death of independent media has affected true reporting from Jammu and Kashmir.

“The situation in the region is so bad that after the abrogation of its special status, even the significant moderate voices in India have been pushed to the militant camps,” he said.

Describing the government’s policy on Kashmir as “brazen,” he questioned the “audacity of the government to hold local body elections in the valley when there is a complete lockdown.

Kumar is pained by the decline of independent institutions that have upheld the flags of democracy for more than seven decades, adding that he was aghast at the Supreme Court’s silence on the abrogation.

“Why is it taking so long for the apex court to intervene on the issue of the internet lockdown in the Kashmir valley? Can you imagine the American Supreme Court behaving the way the Indian judiciary is acting on such a crucial issue?” He asked.

He said that the decline of independent institutions such as the media, judiciary and election commission is gradually creating a democratic imbalance.

Kumar understands the award has given an extra responsibility on him and that he felt “burdened with expectations.” So great are those expectations, he has not ruled out entering politics.

“Politics is a good thing. I tell everyone to join politics,” he said, adding that his current responsibility is to “warn people about the danger that is lurking in Indian society.”