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ISLAMABAD: A former interior minister has asked the United Nations secretary general to convene an emergency session of the General Assembly to devise a comprehensive strategy to curb the expansion of the militant Islamic State (IS) group.

Senator Rehman Malik, who currently chairs the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, had earlier written to the secretary general in November last year in the same vein, but to no avail. Now, he has urged the “formulation of international legislation specific to IS... to counter this engineered conspiracy of a religious divide”.

Calling the group a “bigger threat than Al Qaeda”, Mr Malik recalled that Pakistan had “continually suffered [at] the hands of terrorists for almost three decades”.

“I had assessed earlier that IS was not going to restrict its activities to South Asia or the Middle East alone but would expand its unrestrained horrendous operation to Europe and rest of the world in pursuit of its hostile agenda.”

The former minister urged the UN secretary general to “call a UN General Assembly session on [a] one-point agenda; to invite suggestions for [the] formulation of a common strategy against IS in order to counter its growing mammoth terrorist activities responsible for loss of innocent lives worldwide”.

Comparing the IS threat to the danger posed by Al Qaeda at the beginning of the century, he said establishing a unity similar to what was demonstrated by the international community after 9/11 was the need of the hour.

The senator proposed “to counter the growth of IS by sharing of intelligence within the member states, more closely on IS activities”.

He also wants the group “to be treated as common enemy of the world and to legislate stringent international laws to hinder [its] agenda”.

The former minister also suggested that a commission be constituted “to investigate the emergence of IS, the reasons and background of its expansion and influence worldwide”, adding that it was important to clearly identify the support of other groups, state and non-state actors.

When asked why the senator had written to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon directly rather than contacting him officially through Pakistan’s mission to the UN, the senator’s Media Coordinator Riaz Ali Turi said that Mr Malik had a cordial relationship with the UN chief and had chosen to flag this all-important issue personally as a concerned citizen of Pakistan.

Senator Malik told Dawn that though a session of the Security Council had been convened to discuss the issue the last time he flagged it, the UNGA had not taken it up. He said he was confident that the matter would be taken up now, adding that a delegation of leaders from around the world would also lobby for the matter of IS’s expansion to be taken up at the UN level.

“I am very concerned about the hatred that is being espoused against Islam and the demonisation of Muslims that is taking place as a result of the expansion of this terrorist group,” he said. 

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2016