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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday called his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern to thank her for her empathetic handling of the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch in which 50 people lost their lives.

“Prime Minister Khan called Prime Minister Ardern on behalf of the people of Pakistan to thank her for her compassion, leadership and decisions that won her many admirers in Pakistan,” the PM Office said in a statement on the telephonic conversation between the two leaders.

Nine Pakistanis were among those who lost their lives in the attacks by a White supremacist last Friday on two mosques in Christchurch. Remains of three of the nine Pakistanis are being repatriated to Pakistan, whereas heirs of the remaining six agreed to their burial there.

Mr Khan told Ms Ardern that she had set an example for other Western leaders on how to deal with Islamophobia and global extremism.

The New Zealand prime minister’s swift and unequivocal condemnation of attacks on Muslims as terrorism having no room in her country won her admiration across the world. Her grief-stricken picture offering condolences to the grieving Muslim community of Christchurch wearing a black headscarf epitomised the national mourning in New Zealand and elsewhere in the world.

Mr Khan told her that he was full of praise for the high level of respect shown by her for the Muslims. The handling of the situation, he said, was “humane” and that Pakistan stood by the government and people of New Zealand in this hour of grief.

PM Khan invited Ms Ardern to visit Pakistan.

Prime Minister Ardern acknowledged sacrifice of Pakistani national Naeem Rasheed, who along with his son, laid down their lives while trying to stop the gunman at Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch.

She said New Zealand valued contributions of the Muslim community and would ensure their freedom and protection. She recalled the steps she took to prevent recurrence of such attacks, including a ban on all semi and automatic guns and assault rifles.

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2019