ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok in New York on the sideline of 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly.
The foreign minister commended timely efforts of both countries which helped prevent the blasphemous caricatures competition.
The two sides expressed satisfaction at the current level of bilateral ties. FM Qureshi acknowledged the investments of Dutch businesses in Pakistan.
He stressed the need to further enhance economic trade and investment ties between Pakistan and the Netherlands, which is the fifth largest trading partner of Pakistan in the EU.
On regional issues, the foreign minister pointed out Indian atrocities in Occupied Kashmir and discussed the recent developments in Afghanistan.
Pakistan had taken a strong stance on a competition of blasphemous caricatures planned by far-right anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders which was ultimately called off.
Pakistan’s stance on blasphemous caricatures
On August 30, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi raised the issue of blasphemous caricatures with his Stef Blok who assured him that the Dutch government was not responsible for the event.
Qureshi had underscored that the abominable act provoked and hurt the sentiments of Muslims across the world and that such acts spread hatred and intolerance.
He said Pakistan has written to six countries of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to develop a unified stance of the Muslim world on the blasphemous cartoon competition in the Netherlands.
The foreign minister said the government has also raised the matter with the United Nations General Secretary, Human Rights Council of the UN, European Union, and other relevant forums.
He said the issue will also be taken up at the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers to be held on the sidelines of upcoming UN General Assembly session in New York next month.
Qureshi said he, as a democrat, believes in freedom of expression, but this freedom should also have limits, which should not be crossed.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had also distanced his government from the cartoon competition, saying it was not a government initiative and was not respectful but rather aimed only to provoke.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken a strong stance on the issue of the blasphemous caricatures in the Netherlands, and had urged for unity to give a strong message over the issue which hurt sentiments of Muslims across the world.
He categorically stated that this was not the issue of a few people, but has hurt feelings of the community of over a billion Muslims across the globe.