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.


Six killed as avalanche buries Indian patrol on disputed glacier

Updated 18 November 2019

Six killed as avalanche buries Indian patrol on disputed glacier

  • The disaster was the latest on the Siachen Glacier at more than 5,000 meters
  • Hundreds of troops from both sides have died in avalanches and from the fierce climate

SRINAGAR: An avalanche on Monday hit an Indian patrol in the world’s highest militarised zone in the Himalayas, killing four soldiers and two porters, an army spokesman said.
The disaster was the latest on the Siachen Glacier at more than 5,000 meters (16,500 feet) that is claimed by India and rival Pakistan.
Hundreds of troops from both sides have died in avalanches and from the fierce climate in the region over the past three decades.
An Indian military spokesman told AFP that the avalanche engulfed eight people in the patrol at the northern end of the glacier in the Karakoram mountain range.
Rescue teams managed to dig the patrol members out of the snow, and they were taken by helicopter to hospital.
“Despite best efforts, six casualties which includes four soldiers and two civilian porters succumbed to extreme hypothermia,” said the spokesman, Col. Rajesh Kalia.
Avalanches are common on the 700-square-kilometer (270-square-mile) glacier, where temperatures regularly fall to minus 60 degrees Celsius (-76 Fahrenheit).
In 2016, 10 Indian soldiers were buried and killed.
About 900 Indian soldiers alone have died on the glacier since 1984, when Indian forces took complete control of Siachen.
The glacier is located at the northern end of the Line of Control that divides Kashmir, which India and Pakistan have fought over since 1947.