In telephone call, PM Imran thanks Putin for 'emphatic' statement against insulting Holy Prophet (PBUH)
Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a telephonic conversation on Monday during which the premier thanked the Russian leader for his "emphatic" statement against insulting Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him).
Last month, Putin had said that insulting Holy Prophet (PBUH) did not count as an expression of artistic freedom but was a "violation of religious freedom".
State news agency TASS reported that the Russian president also criticised the publication of blasphemous sketches of Holy Prophet (PBUH) in French magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Such acts, the report quoted Putin as saying, gave rise to extremist reprisals. Artistic freedom had its limits and it shouldn't infringe on other's freedoms, he had added.
In a tweet on Monday, the premier said that he spoke to Putin "primarily to express my appreciation for his emphatic statement that freedom of speech could not be a pretext to abuse our Holy Prophet (PBUH)."
"He is the first Western leader to show empathy and sensitivity to Muslim sentiment for their beloved Prophet (PBUH)," he added.
The premier said that the two also discussed ways to move forward on trade and other mutually beneficial cooperation between the countries. "We invited each other to visit our countries," he said.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) also released a statement on the telephone call and said that PM Imran "appreciated" Putin's statement.
"The prime minister stated that he has been regularly [highlighting] the appalling rise in Islamophobia and associated hatred in his addresses to the United Nations General Assembly, pointing towards its serious ramifications," the statement said.
The two leaders "fondly recalled" their conversations during the last year and exchanged views on bilateral cooperation as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest, the PMO said.
"The prime minister underscored that Pakistan’s bilateral relationship with Russia was on an upward trajectory with an increased focus on trade, economic ties and energy cooperation. He reiterated the government’s resolve for the early realisation of the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline Project," it added.
Both leaders agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in different areas, increase high-level exchanges, and remain in close contact on matters relating to Afghanistan.
"The prime minister underscored that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was pivotal for regional stability. Afghanistan was facing dire humanitarian and economic challenges, and the support of the international community to the people of Afghanistan at this critical juncture remained vitally important, he stressed."
PM Imran also raised the importance of releasing Afghanistan's financial assets in order to address the needs of the Afghan people. He added that he looked forward to Putin’s visit to Pakistan as well as his own visit to Russia at an appropriate time, the statement said.