President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday urged the Islamic countries to work together on countering Islamophobia and changing the perceptions of the world about Muslims. Talking to the visiting Arab Parliament’s President Adel bin Abdul Rahman Al-Asoomi here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, President Alvi said the Islamic world was facing the challenges of terrorism and Islamophobia, which could be overcome through close coordinated efforts. He said Pakistan had a natural affinity with the Arab nations due to their shared bonds of common faith and culture. Pakistan, he said, attached great importance to its ties with the Middle Eastern countries and wanted to further strengthen relations with them in all areas of mutual interest. He mentioned that Pakistan’s policy had shifted from geo-politics to geo-economics that focused on regional connectivity, development partnerships, socio-economic uplift and regional peace. The president highlighted that Pakistan was making efforts to promote peace in the region, particularly in Afghanistan. He also briefed the visiting dignitary about the measures taken by the country against the COVID-19 pandemic. The president apprised Adel bin Abdul Rahman Al-Asoomi about the apartheid policies of the Modi-led Bharatia Janta Party government in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), saying that India was involved in the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiris by altering the demography of Kashmir through the Citizenship Act. He reiterated Pakistan’s support to the just cause of Palestinians and called for the establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous state of Palestine on the basis of internationally accepted parameters, with pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. The president of Arab Parliament termed Pakistan an important country for the Arab world, which had played a historical role in supporting the cause of Islamic Ummah. He underlined the need to work closely by the Islamic world to meet their common challenges. He also emphasized the need for exchanging delegations to further cement ties between Pakistan and the Arab world. He mentioned that the Arab Parliament supported Pakistan’s stance on IIOJK. Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani was also present during the meeting. Separately, the Arab parliamentary delegation led by Speaker Adel Abdulrahman Al-Asoumi called on Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and discussed scope of diversifying ties with Pakistan. The foreign minister welcomed the Arab Parliament’s delegation which arrived in Islamabad on Sunday on a five-day visit. Terming the Arab Parliament a main body of the League of Arab States, Qureshi said Pakistan had excellent relations with Arab countries based on common religious and cultural values. He mentioned that Pakistan had strong bilateral relations with the countries of the Middle East, where a large number of Pakistanis were residing. Pakistan, he said, wanted peace and stability in the Middle East and as a founding member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation was committed to playing a positive role in the unity of the international community. He said Pakistan considered a just solution to the Palestinian issue essential for peace in the Middle East. The foreign minister recalled of meeting the leadership of Arab countries during his official visit to Egypt, where he discussed bilateral matters with them. He apprised the visiting Arab delegation on Pakistan’s geopolitical priorities that included building and developing partnerships with friendly countries and striving for peace and stability. Qureshi updated the Arab parliamentary delegation on the grave human rights violations in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, which he said were a threat to peace of the region. He expressed confidence that the visit of the Arab parliamentary delegation would prove as an important milestone in the development of bilateral parliamentary relations.