The New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly was in stark contrast to many other world leaders particularly the US President’s. She spoke in Maori language at the start acknowledging the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand before laying out her world vision in English. She truly represented the cultural and social conscience of the New Zealand society. The Maoris represent nearly 15 percent of the total 4.7 million New Zealanders. It has been a long journey for New Zealand to form an inclusive and fairer society. Her thoughtful words represented the decency of New Zealand people. Let me quote her, she said, “We can use the environment to blame nameless, faceless ‘other’, to feed the sense of insecurity, to retreat into greater levels of isolationism… or we can acknowledge the problems we have and seek to fix them.” She further said, “Emerging from a catastrophic war (that is WWII), we have collectively established through convention, charters and rules a set of international norms and human rights” . Prime Minister Ardern’s speech symbolised the accomplishments of many of the Western societies during the past seven decades since the World War, while she admitted the challenges in getting to this point. Despite the enormous failures of global institutions such as the UN, many leaders held that retaining these institutions is a wiser policy than to abandon these. These institutions are still holding the chaos at bay. I understand from her speech that making these organisations impartial and efficient should rather be humanity’s goal instead of isolationism which is advocated by Trump. Though she did not name the US President. The case of Aasia Bibi is now before the Supreme Court, while Shakoor bhai, an octogenarian Ahmadi continues to suffer in jail for selling religious books to his own Ahmadi community, and there are numerous other people subjected to the harsh blasphemy law Nearly a decade ago in 2008, the former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gave a historic speech in the House of Representatives. He formally sought forgiveness from the indigenous people of Australia for the wrongs committed in the previous century by the predominantly Australian Anglo-Saxon society on Aboriginal people. His speech was a poignant moment for the nation. This initiated a process of healing, reconciliation, and an acknowledgment of the pain and suffering of its downtrodden Aborigines — a 40,000-year-old culture. Prime Minister Rudd’s speech was politically a bold and risky move. However, later all political parties and their leaders openly supported him for this and commended him. This apology was widely celebrated in Australia. Australia and New Zealand may be small nations in the far South-East corner of the world though both are significant economies in relation to their population numbers. Australia is a G20 nation. Both countries are regional middle powers — a term coined by Prime Minister Rudd. The political leadership in both countries consider it vital for their progress to develop open-minded fairer societies, mend ways with all classes in their respective nations, provide equal opportunities to all its citizens and compete with other countries for advancement in all spheres of life. It doesn’t mean that both nations are perfect in everything. There have been serious concerns for Australian government in reneging its obligation under Refugee conventions. A larger part of society doesn’t agree with the tough immigration policies, nevertheless, there is a democratic process to define such policies and articulate these before the people. I am confident that eventually a more compassionate political view will prevail. I also hope one-day Pakistani leaders may also reflect on their own mistreatment of various minority communities. The case of Aasia Bibi is now before the Supreme Court, while Shakoor bhai, an octogenarian Ahmadi continues to suffer in jail for selling religious books to his own Ahmadi community, and there are numerous other people subjected to the harsh blasphemy law. We know well that Ahmadis and Shias have been marginalised in the last four decades. Especially, Ahmadis have been made outcast through the second constitutional amendment. The oppressive penal code provisions of 298 B, C and 295 C inhibit their religious practices. Unfortunately, extremism is given much bigger space in Pakistani society in the name of freedom. There is a deep sense of injustice and unfairness held by Ahmadis due to these laws. This can never be helpful in the progress of a balanced society. We observe in other progressive and developed countries that respect of each class and religious group is not forced through punishments. It is absurd to enforce respect of Islam in Pakistan through such penal codes which otherwise has a 97 percent Muslim population. Such respect can only be imposed through due acknowledgement of the differences of marginal communities, removing the notion and sense of insecurities promoted by religious clerics on behalf of the majority and by taking pride in diverse cultures and religious groups. Such respect is always reciprocal. Despite having no influence over the government, I feel duty-bound to opine once again that we must repeal all such laws which make our society unfair for one group of citizens while providing all opportunities to extreme elements in seizing the liberties of marginal sections. We know it well that these laws enable religious clerics in promoting regressive ideologies in the name of Islam, who seek to control the political discourse, and at times employ these laws to settle scores with downtrodden and weak. The journey towards a non-discriminatory and egalitarian social order can only be achieved once we admit our follies. The writer has Master’s degree in Project Management from the University of New South Wales, Sydney. He can be reached at @Imranahsanmirza Published in Daily Times, October 11th 2018.