ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke over the phone on Friday, but after a drama over the scheduling of the call.

The prime minister was in a meeting with a group of journalists when President Macron first called. On being told by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua about it, the prime minister asked her to get the pre-scheduled call rescheduled.

The calls between the heads of states and governments are usually scheduled well in advance. It seldom happens that the staff of a head of government or state get an unexpected call from another leader, requesting a conversation. The request for conversation is initiated by the embassy of the country whose leader wishes to speak, while explaining the proposed agenda and reasons for the call. If the receiving leader agrees then the two sides work it into their busy schedules, according to diplomatic protocols for high-level conversations.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi speaks to his Dutch counterpart, stresses need to work together against Islamophobia

According to a diplomatic source, the call was pre-scheduled. Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal did not respond when he was asked by Dawn about the veracity of the claim.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi later told a journalist that “we had sought time adjustment because the prime minister was in a meeting”.

The two leaders later spoke, according to a source. Details of the conversation were not shared with the media.

Dutch foreign minister

Pakistan and the Netherlands, meanwhile, agreed to continue to work together against Islamophobia and activities that promote religious hatred.

The agreement was reached during a telephonic conversation between Foreign Minister Qureshi and his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok.

“Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi noted that the timely efforts made by the two governments helped in achieving the desired result. He stressed on the need to work together to raise awareness and limiting the disturbing trend of Islamophobia, incitement to racial and religious hatred, and building bridges among civilisations,” the FO said.

Earlier, anti-Islam Dutch legislator Geert Wilders, who was organising a sketch contest hurtful to Muslims, cancelled the event amid mass protests in Pakistan.

Foreign Minister Qureshi had also lodged strong protest with Mr Blok a few days back, urging him to disallow the planned activity on the premises of Dutch parliament. PM Khan also issued a video statement condemning the planned contest.

Lawmaker Wilders said he had cancelled the contest out of security concerns.

The FO said that Mr Blok, while talking to Mr Qureshi, reiterated his government’s position of disassociation with Wilder’s activities and assured of continued cooperation.

Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2018

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