ISLAMABAD, March 22: President Asif Ali Zardari denounced on Tuesday the burning of Holy Quran by a US pastor, saying it was a serious setback to efforts to promote harmony in the world.

Christian preacher Terry Jones, who after international condemnation last year cancelled a plan to burn copies of the Holy Book to mark the anniversary of the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, supervised the burning of the book in front of a crowd of about 50 people at an obscure church in Florida on Sunday, according to his website.

“I, at the outset strongly condemn, on behalf of the people of Pakistan and on my own behalf, the deliberate desecration of the Holy Quran by a fanatic in Florida,” Mr Zardari said at the beginning of his annual address to the parliament.

“It is a serious setback to efforts at promoting harmony among civilised community throughout the world,” he said, urging the United Nations to address the matter for the sake of harmony and peace in the world.

The previous threat by Jones to burn the Holy Quran triggered deadly riots in occupied Kashmir and Afghanistan and he dropped the plan after US President Barack Obama said the action would have helped Al Qaeda.—Reuters