Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday expressed disappointment at the adoption of a resolution by the European Parliament on blasphemy laws in Pakistan, and “Discourse on the issue reflects a lack of understanding of blasphemy laws and associated religious sensitivities in Pakistan and in the wider Muslim world,” the foreign minister said in his virtual address to the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. He said that the world is witnessing a rise in Islamophobia thus there is a need to show ‘common resolve’ to fight intolerance and incitement to violence on the basis of religion or belief. He stressed the need to appreciate religious sentiments related to Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and religious symbols, adding that while Pakistan values freedom of expression, it should not be used to hurt religious feelings. “Wilful provocations and incitement to hate and violence must not be allowed and be universally outlawed,” he underlined. Qureshi said Pakistan has firmly moved against radical groups after the recent protests. “I can assure you that no armed or pressure group is being allowed to challenge the writ of the state and dictate government policy. Our government has taken concrete steps to deescalate the situation arising from the publication of hurtful sketches and desecration of the Holy Quran in Europe,” he said. The foreign minister said geopolitical fault lines are being revived and getting deeper and ‘mutual trust and respect among states is eroding’. “Existing conflicts are getting complex, new disputes are emerging, threats from terrorism are ever evolving and challenges emanating from hybrid and cyber threats are reshaping the security paradigm across the world. Misinformation and fake news are being spread as tools of state craft,” he added. Qureshi said Pakistan is ready to play its part for positive and productive partnership with the European Union as enormous potential exists in areas of trade, climate change and digitization. He said Pak-EU relationship has provided a solid foundation and framework for cooperation in multiple domains, including political and defence, trade and investment, promotion of democracy, rule of law, good governance and human rights, migration and mobility, sustainable development, education and culture and science and technology. “We want to anchor our international engagement in economic cooperation and the inextricable link between peace and development. Our focus is shifting from geo-politics to geo-economics,” he said. As an emerging market of 220 million people, 60 percent of whom are below the age of 30 years, Pakistan offers a multitude of opportunities for trade and investment, he added. He said anchored in economic security, Pakistan was focused on connectivity by promoting trade, transit and energy flows among Central and South Asia and Middle-East, providing economic bases as a development strategy and peace within our borders and beyond.