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Information minister terms cancellation of blasphemous cartoon contest an achievement for Islamabad

Updated August 31, 2018

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Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary address a press briefing.— DawnNewsTV
Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary address a press briefing.— DawnNewsTV

Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary on Friday termed the cancellation of an anti-Islam contest involving blasphemous caricatures in the premises of the Dutch parliament as an "achievement" for Islamabad.

However, he made it clear that the government still believes that a strategy needs to be devised on an international level against any such attempt in the future.

He also said that while a small group of people in the west may try to provoke Muslims, the majority could not be held responsible for the acts of that small group.

The minister recalled that the Government of The Netherlands had not been in favour of the contest and petitions had also been filed in the United Kingdom against blasphemy.

"After the prime minister's speech, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had contacted the government of Holland," he said, adding that Qureshi had told the Dutch that the global community will hold their government responsible if the contest was held.

PM's visit to GHQ

The information minister also touched on various other issues during his Friday address, which ranged from the prime minister's visit to the army's General Headquarters, to Punjab Information and Culture Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan's comments against actresses.

Talking about PM Khan's recent visit to the army headquarters, he said that state policies are devised with the input of institutions.

He said that during Thursday's meeting, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had categorically stated that the army, like all other institutions, will work as an institution under the government. He added that Gen Bajwa had also made it clear that the army was bound to implement all policies devised by the government.

The minister further said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had said yesterday that since the country had been facing enormous challenges which could not be handled by a single person, all institutions would have to devise a joint strategy going forward.

The meeting at the army headquarters also discussed regional peace and stability as well as Islamabad's foreign relations with regional countries.

"Obviously, Kashmir was also discussed during the meeting," Chaudhary said.

Foreign affairs

Talking on foreign affairs, the information minister added that there is consensus in Pakistan over various issues.

"Islamabad wants peace and stability in Afghanistan," he said, adding that Pakistan also wants peace with India.

"We are two nuclear powers; we don't want war. We can either fight with each other or sign a treaty to fight jointly against poverty. Therefore, normalisation of relations with India is an important agenda," he said.

Chaudhary also said that Islamabad enjoys close relations with Iran, recalling that her foreign minister was on visit to Pakistan.

"Similarly," he said, "Saudi Arabia has been and will be a strategic partner for Pakistan."

"China has great economic interest in Pakistan. Our agreement with China is an expression of the socio-economic relations between the two countries. It is not a geo-strategic agreement, but a geopolitical and geo-economic agreement," he said while talking about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

He added that the government not only wants to complete, but further enhance the project. Giving a breakdown of CPEC projects, he said that projects worth $22 billion are associated with the energy sector, $6bn with infrastructure, while projects worth $42bn are yet to be realised.

"It is important to maintain a close economic relationship with China, but that does not mean that we will ruin our relations with the United States or we will not keep a relationship with Russia," he said.