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New Zealand PM has 'won hearts of Pakistanis' with her leadership after mosque attacks: FO spokesman

March 20, 2019

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In this photo released by New Zealand Prime Minister's Office, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to representatives of the Muslim community on March 16, 2019, at the Canterbury Refugee Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand. — AP
In this photo released by New Zealand Prime Minister's Office, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to representatives of the Muslim community on March 16, 2019, at the Canterbury Refugee Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand. — AP

Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal on Tuesday said that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had "won the hearts of Pakistanis" with the compassion and leadership she demonstrated after a right-wing white supremacist murdered 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch during Friday prayers.

"The clear [and] decisive manner in which NZ PM has dealt with Christchurch terrorist attack has won her many admirers in Pakistan," Dr Faisal said in a tweet.

He also thanked her for recognising the bravery of Dr Naeem Rashid, a Pakistani victim of the massacre who was reported to have saved lives by trying to tackle the attacker.

Ardern has been praised globally for reaching out to the local Muslim community following the horrific attack, which she has termed terrorism.

Wearing a black scarf over her head, she was photographed hugging members of the Muslim community at a Christchurch refugee centre. She also vowed to change the country's gun laws, saying a ban on semi-automatic weapons would be considered.

On Tuesday, the 38-year-old leader opened her remarks in parliament with a symbolic gesture, repeating the greeting uttered every day across the Islamic world: “As-salaam alaikum”. She has also announced an inquiry into the intelligence and security services' failures to detect the risk from the attacker or his plans.

In a tweet, President Arif Alvi thanked Ardern "for the strong compassion she has shown in the face of [the] terrorist killing of 50 Muslims".

He also lauded the people of New Zealand for their "unanimous outpouring of love" towards the Muslim community and rejecting of Islamophobia.