Pakistan claims victory in row over Dutch cartoon contest

Teachers and students of an Islamic seminary ‘Jamia Naeemia’ chant slogans during a demonstration in Lahore, Pakistan, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018, condemning a cartoon contest planned by Geert Wilders, a Dutch parliamentarian. (K.M. CHAUDARY/AP)
Updated 31 August 2018

Pakistan claims victory in row over Dutch cartoon contest

  • Islamabad calls for international laws to deal with the recurring issue of anti-Islam caricatures
  • Prime Minister Imran Khan promises a “strong protest” and plans to raise the issue at the UN

ISLAMABAD: The cancelation of a cartoon contest in the Netherlands about the Prophet Muhammad was a “diplomatic success for Pakistan,” Fawad Chaudry, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, claimed. 
Speaking to media on Friday, Chaudry said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi raised the issue with the Dutch ambassador to Pakistan, saying the global community will hold their government responsible if the contest was held.
On Thursday night, the far-right Dutch lawmaker and the organizer of this competition, Geert Wilders, announced the cancelation of the contest. 
Wilders tweeted that “the safety and security of my fellow countrymen comes first.”
However, Pakistan’s Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) government said the decision is a victory for Pakistan that was made possible by diplomatic efforts directed by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“Pakistan responded to the issue with cooperation from Turkey and other members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation,” Chaudry said. “The controversial contest hurt sentiments of over 2 billion Muslims and there is need to frame laws to deal with such issues.”
He urged all Muslim countries to adopt a global strategy to deal with the recurring issue of caricatures. 
Chaudry said that neither the Dutch government nor most people in the West supported this competition.
Earlier, thousands of protesters, led by the Tehrik-e-Labbaik Pakistan’s (TLP) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi, marched on Islamabad demanding the government sever diplomatic relations with the Netherlands over the issue.
A government delegation led by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met with the TLP leadership in Islamabad and succeeded in convincing them to call off their protest, following the announcement of the cancelation of the contest.
“Holland’s ambassador to Pakistan has confirmed to me cancelation of the controversial contest,” Qureshi said. 
“We will still raise the issue in the UN and request our TLP brothers to disperse peacefully.”
Shortly after the Qureshi’s press conference, Rizvi announced an end to the protest rally, saying: “Thank God, our demand and mission have been achieved.”
Khan also said in a video statement on Thursday night that “the matter of blasphemous caricature is an issue concerning every Muslim. We will stage a strong protest and will tell them (the West) that such acts hurt over a billion people around the world. It’s unacceptable.”
Pakistan’s parliament had unanimously condemned Wilders’ plan to hold the anti-Islam cartoon contest, which encourages participants to draw caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, an act seen as highly offensive to the Muslims.


Trump says terminating US relationship with WHO over coronavirus

Updated 29 May 2020

Trump says terminating US relationship with WHO over coronavirus

  • Trump said the WHO had failed to make reforms to the organization that the president had demanded earlier this month
  • “China has total control over the World Health Organization despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying,” he said

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Friday said he is terminating the US relationship with the World Health Organization over its handling of the coronavirus, saying the WHO had essentially become a puppet organization of China.
Appearing in the White House Rose Garden, Trump went ahead with repeated threats to eliminate American funding for the group, which amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
Trump said the WHO had failed to make reforms to the organization that the president had demanded earlier this month. He said Chinese officials “ignored their reporting obligations” about the virus to the WHO and pressured the WHO to “mislead the world” when the virus was first discovered by Chinese authorities.
“China has total control over the World Health Organization despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying which is approximately $450 million a year. We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engaged with them directly but they have refused to act,” said Trump.
“Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” he said.
Trump has long questioned the value of the United Nations and scorned the importance of multilateralism as he focuses on an “America First” agenda. Since taking office, Trump has quit the UN Human Rights Council, the UN cultural agency UNESCO, a global accord to tackle climate change and the Iran nuclear deal.
The World Health Organization is a UN specialized agency — an independent international body that works with the United Nations. The WHO and a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s decision.