UNITED NATIONS: The UN General Assembly has unanimously adopted a new resolution sponsored by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries that condemns offences against religious sites and calls for greater efforts to promote a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels. “The adoption of this resolution is a part of the efforts initiated by Prime Minister Imran Khan to combat Islamophobia and outlaw attacks on Muslims religious shrines, symbols and sacred personalities in certain countries,” Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram said while commenting on the 193-member Assembly’s action on Thursday. Expressing his complete satisfaction at the adoption of the resolution, by consensus, the Pakistani envoy especially referred to the Assembly’s condemnation of all threats of violence, destruction, damage directed against religious sites that have continued to occur across the world, and he spotlighted India in this regard. Under its terms, the resolution invites the Secretary-General to convene a global conference aimed at advancing the United Nations Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites, involving Governments, political figures, religious leaders, civil society and the media, among other stakeholders. It denounced any moves to obliterate or forcibly convert religious sites, while strongly deploring violence against persons on the basis of their religion or belief. Expressing concern that racial and religious intolerance and stereotyping are on the rise, the Assembly condemned any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, and urged States to take effective measures to combat such incidents. The resolution further emphasized that freedom of religion or belief, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of association are interdependent, interrelated and mutually reinforcing. The Assembly called on the United Nations to pursue strategies, educational initiatives and global communications campaigns aimed at strengthening the protection of religious sites and cultural heritage. In his comments, the Pakistan Ambassador said, “The adoption of the resolution is also a rebuke to the Hindutva extremists in India who have launched a systematic and government backed programme to eliminate the heritage and legacy of Islam in India through the destruction of Islamic shrines and monuments and to the transformation of India’s Muslims into second class citizens, or non-citizens. The resolution, Ambassador Akram said has generated hope that by denouncing violent attacks on religious sites, the international community will join hands in promoting a culture of peace, based on mutual respect, understanding and tolerance. “Pakistan will continue to play a leading role in this endeavour,” he added. Introducing the resolution titled, “Promoting a culture of peace and tolerance to safeguard religious sites”, the Saudi Arabia’s representative said the text condemns offences or mockery against religious sites and symbols, rejects the use of violence to express any point of view and aims to develop a culture of peace as a shield against extremism and intolerance. He said its sponsors stand united in support of freedom of belief, opinion and expression, while also requiring mutual respect and continuous dialogue.