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ISLAMABAD: A day after thousands across Pak­istan protested against crac­kdown on Rohingya Mus­lims in Myanmar, the Fore­ign Office on Saturday summoned Myanmar’s envoy to protest over the violence against the ethnic and religious minority that has left at least 400 dead and led to the exodus of over 250,000 refugees.

“The Ambassador of Mya­nmar, Mr U Win Myint, was called to the Foreign Office today by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua to convey a strong protest of the Gov­er­n­ment and people of Pakistan at the ongoing violence agai­nst the Rohingya Muslims,” an FO statement said.

The envoy was asked to convey to his government Pakistan’s demand that effective measures to prevent the recurrence of violence and ensure security for the Rohingyas must be taken. The Myanmar government was also asked to “uphold their rights to live and move without fear and discriminations, (conduct) urgent investigations into recent violence against the Rohingya Muslims and hold accountable those involved in these serious crimes”.

Protest rallies were staged throughout Pakistan on Friday by religio-political parties and civil society groups to protest against the violence against the Rohingya community by Myanmar’s state security forces and Buddhist vigilantes.

Ahead of the Friday protests, the federal cabinet had in a strongly worded statement described the attacks against the Rohingyas as “the cold-blooded and callous genocide” of the community under “the direct patronage of state institutions of Myanmar”. The cabinet called it “state terrorism” and urged immediate cessation of violence.

Foreign secretary Janjua called for a durable solution of the problem through swift implementation of recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission, which include urgent and sustained action to prevent violence, maintaining peace, fostering reconciliation, ensuring unhindered humanitarian access and addressing the issue of citizenship.

The Rohingyas have long endured violence in Buddhist majority Myanmar and were stripped of citizenship in the 1980s. The latest phase of violence began on Aug 25 after militants attacked several police and military posts. State forces and Buddhist vigilantes responded with brute force setting Rohingya villages on fire.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2017

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