In view of recurring incidents of desecration of the Holy Quran in Nordic countries, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has condemned rising incidents of Islamophobia and called for the protection of all individuals against hatred and violence based on religion and belief. The 18th Extraordinary Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) was convened in virtual format on Monday to debate such incidents, which have hurt the sentiments of Muslims across the world. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari attended the meeting on behalf of Pakistan and he underscored that such acts and the permission to carry them out did not constitute freedom of expression. Instead, they manifest religious hatred and intolerance. He reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to work closely with OIC member countries, especially in Jeddah, Geneva and New York to highlight concerns about willful acts of desecration of the Holy Quran. Bilawal also welcomed the adoption of resolutions in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) and the UN General Assembly (UNGA) advocating inter-religious dialogue and shunning religious hatred. The foreign minister called for the promotion of inter-faith harmony and peaceful co-existence. Bilawal also reiterated the proposal he made earlier this year on the International Day to Combat Islamophobia, which entails an Action Plan involving the appointment of a UN special envoy to combat Islamophobia and the establishment of judicial mechanisms to hold perpetrators accountable. He later took to Twitter to share details of the meeting. “Pakistan denounces all wanton acts of Islamophobia that cause distress and concern across the Muslim world. OIC carries the burden of responsibility to protect the dignity of Muslims. Pakistan has and will continue to partake in all OIC efforts to combat Islamophobia & project our collective concerns as resolutely as possible,” he tweeted. The Extraordinary CFM adopted a comprehensive resolution expressing grave concern over increasing incidents of intolerance, discrimination and rising Islamophobia, according to a statement issued by the Foreign Office. It reaffirmed the importance of the eight-point action plan unanimously agreed upon by the UNHRC to counter incitement to hatred, discrimination, stigmatisation and violence based on religion and belief. Moreover, it called on all governments to fully implement the existing legal and administrative framework or adopt new legislation to protect all individuals against hatred and violence based on religion and belief. Meanwhile, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that through extensive engagement with the international community, Pakistan achieved substantially on the diplomatic front during the past fifteen months. Addressing a ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after launching ‘Digitised system under Foreign Minister’s Change Management Reforms’, the foreign minister said that through intensive engagements with the international community, they could now claim “diplomacy is back”. It was also an appropriate response to those who were touting about Pakistan being isolated at the global level, he added. The foreign minister said that due to consistent global engagements under his stewardship, and with the countries in the Middle East, the United States, China, and other members of the United Nations, they had increased Pakistan’s outreach and viewpoint on different issues, leading to success at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) after the country was removed from the grey list and climate change issue. He said during the floods last year and afterward, in the post-flood scenario, the international community came to support Pakistan in the relief and rehabilitation efforts. The UN General Assembly members focused on Pakistan during the relief efforts and subsequently, they successfully arranged the Climate Resilient Pakistan summit in Geneva receiving ‘a substantive and qualitative response’. Foreign Minister Bilawal, to a media query, reiterated that Pakistan was not keen to join the ‘blocs policy’ and would take decisions in the larger national interests. Pakistan had stressed upon resolution of all world issues through dialogue and diplomacy, he added. Responding to another question regarding terrorist organizations, he maintained that writ of the state would be established at all costs and the government would not take steps to appease the militant or terrorists outfits. He said that he had suggested to the prime minister to convene an Apex Committee meeting to address the issue of terrorist and criminal incidents in the country. He said that there was an increase in the terrorist incidents after the fall of Kabul. The latest arms and ammunition left behind by the foreign forces had fallen into the hands of terrorist outfits and criminal organizations, and even with the dacoits which posed a challenge to the government, he added. The foreign minister, to a question, further said that they expected the Afghan interim government to take actions against the terrorist organizations and honour their commitment made with the international community not to allow their soil for terrorist activities against any country under the Doha Agreement. He said Pakistan’s stance was clear and it had demanded the Afghan interim set up to curb terrorism, as cooperation against the menace of terrorism was in the interest of both countries. Afghanistan had no standing army, anti-terrorists force or border management force which caused the capacity issues to face terrorism, he opined.