Last week’s Christchurch shooting staged an assault on everything New Zealand stood for: equality, religious freedom, and its profound embrace of thousands of immigrants. On the other hand, it took a nation like New Zealand to stand up to such a calamity and show the world what a multipronged approach to counterterrorism should look like:legislative, ideological and criminal action, backed by concrete solidarity with terror victims. The face of these efforts – Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – reminds a rapidly polarising world of the true meaning of peace. On 21st March, New Zealand’s cabinet agreed to ban all military-style semi-automatics and assault rifles in the country. The move, set to become a binding legislation next month, is aimed at amending the Arms Act of 1983, and securing citizens from the threat of high-performance firearms. On a national security level, thisd ecision holds ample significance. It recognizes the link between widespread weaponry and potential for violence – one that is consistently undermined in nations with rampant mass shootings.In America, for instance, mass shootings in Parkland and Las Vegas gave strength to numerous gun-control movements, yielding limited traction from the higher-ups. New Zealand’s prompt action on gun reforms,therefore, reflects a far-sighted view of peace. Moreover, the clampdown prevents”freedom of choice” from being pitched as a possible defence for the estimated1.2 million firearms in the country. In an interview to News hub, Nicole McKee of the New Zealand Council of Licenced Firearm Owners, spoke of receiving help and support messages from the National Rifle Association, in the aftermath of the Christchurch tragedy. NRA, the world’s largest gun lobby, also played a key role in mustering resistance to Australia’s landmark gun reforms in 1996, by funding right wing opposition and freedom campaigns. It is against this backdrop,that Jacinda Ardern’s decision to act on a 36-year old piece of gun legislation is a rare sign of statesmanship in a deeply polarized world. The move also confirms New Zealand’s resolve to override all selective civil liberties, to place the highest value on a single right – citizens’ right to life. As Ardern combines compassionate rhetoric with concrete action, major world powers are left with plenty to ponder Having categorically declared the massacre “an act of terrorism”, Ardern and her leadership have struck at the heart of a larger ideological problem: the rising threat of white-supremacy. “Strongest possible condemnation of the ideology of the people who did this.You may have chosen us — but we utterly reject and condemn you”, spoke a defiant Ardern at Wellington’s press conference. As the 28-year old Brenton Tarrant is charged with murder until his next appearance in court, solidarity with Muslim minorities has intensified. A hijab-laden Jacinda Ardern could be seen consoling and hugging the victims and their families; fellow citizens accumulating millions in crowd funding; parliamentary proceedings beginning with verses from the Quran. “They are us”, she cries to the dead and wounded;the strength of New Zealand’s social and religious fabric, in full show. Interestingly, New Zealand’s idea of leadership presents valuable lessons for serving minority rights in South Asia. Pakistan, for instance, is yet to see a leadership that publicly defends, protects and reiterates the rights of Ahmadis, in wake of brutal oppression. Targeted harassment of Dalits and Muslim minorities in India, and the mass-scale imprisonment of Uyghurs in China, are all glaring reminders of continued state rhetoric, with little action. For a nation such as New Zealand with no prior memory of terror attacks, it is heartening to see its leadership step up to the occasion. As Ardern combines compassionate rhetoric with concrete action, major world powers are left with plenty to ponder. The writer is a political commentator for The Diplomat Magazine and LSE South Asia Centre Published in Daily Times, March 26th 2019.