UN adopts Pakistan-backed resolution against religious violence

File photo of Maleeha Lodhi Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the United Nations. UN General Assembly Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution, co-sponsored by Pakistan, that strongly condemns continuing violence and acts of terrorism targeting individuals Photo Courtesy (Maleeha Lodhi Twitter account)
Updated 03 April 2019

UN adopts Pakistan-backed resolution against religious violence

  • Pakistan’s UN ambassador highlights rise of Islamophobia, extreme nationalistic and populist ideologies in the region and beyond
  • Praises New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for her “exemplary leadership” in aftermath of attacks on two mosques last month

UNITED NATIONS:  UN General Assembly Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution, co-sponsored by Pakistan, that strongly condemns continuing violence and acts of terrorism targeting individuals, including persons belonging to religious minorities, based on religion or belief.
After the passage of the resolution that decried the recent Islamophobic terrorist attack in New Zealand, Pakistani Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi highlighted the rise of extreme nationalistic and populist ideologies in the West and also in Pakistan’s neighbourhood.
That trend, she said in an obvious swipe at India’s Hindutva ideology, was giving rise to “bigotry, intolerance, anti-Muslim hatred and xenophobia”
“Pervasive Islamophobia is a global phenomenon and calls for a global response: collaborative, coherent and committed action against incidents that fuel, funnel and fortify this narrative against Islam and Muslims,” she told the 193-member Assembly.
“The adoption of the resolution today is a strong manifestation of our shared commitment to stand united against racial and religious hatred.”
By the terms of Tuesday’s resolution, titled “Combating terrorism and other acts of violence based on religion or belief, the Assembly condemned in the strongest terms the heinous, cowardly terrorist attack aimed at Muslim praying in two mosques in Christchurch, and expressed its deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and the people of that country. In further terms, the Assembly urged States to protect and promote freedom of religion and belief and to foster a domestic environment of religious tolerance, peace and respect.
Introducing that resolution, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, told the 193-member Assembly that the international community must stand up against the spiral of hate. Sending condolences to the families of the Muslims who were killed in Christchurch in a clearly planned terrorist attack, he said that Islamophobia and racism go hand in hand.
Rejecting the actions of reckless politicians who often use distorted historical narratives and toxic conspiracy theories to equate Islam with terrorism, he quoted the poet Rumi who said, “listen with ears of tolerance, see with eyes of compassion, speak the language of love.”
In her speech, Ambassador Lodhi, noting that nine victims of the Christchurch attack hailed from her country, said that profiling and stigmatizing people from one country leads to drastic consequences.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and survivors of this cowardly terrorist attack. While expressing solidarity with the people and government of New Zealand, she saluted Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for her “exemplary leadership” in the face of this tragedy.
The Christchurch terrorist, she said, was only the latest manifestation of a growing phenomenon rooted in hate, bigotry, racism, and the extremist ideology of racial and white supremacy.
“The rise of extreme nationalist and populist ideologies in liberal Western democracies and elsewhere, including in our region, are fanning the flames of bigotry, intolerance, anti-Muslim hatred and xenophobia,” the Pakistani envoy added.
The growing prejudice against Islam was “evident in policies aimed at creating walls and barriers against displaced populations, as much as in attempts to denigrate Islamic beliefs and our sacred personalities on the pretext of freedom of expression.”
“The political falsehood of equating people of different religions with violent extremism, in order to garner political support for the forces of hate lies at the heart of this phenomenon,” Ambassador Lodhi said.
Freedom of expression, she said, was often used as an excuse to enable such vile expression to prosper and for hate speech to enter the mainstream. The Christchurch tragedy also exposed social media’s radicalizing role.
“It is time that we evolve ways to ensure that social media companies are held accountable for their content that incites violence or spreads hatred,” she said, adding that Islamophobia posed a grave threat to global peace and security.
“We must strengthen efforts to foster a global dialogue on the promotion of a culture of tolerance, dialogue and peace at all levels, she said, while emphasizing respect for human rights and diversity as well as space for diverse voices, religions, worldviews and faith traditions.
Pakistan, she said, was committed to continuing its efforts to build bridges of understanding and challenge and resist those who seek to construct walls of bigotry and hatred.
“We look towards all those who believe in humanity’s common future, to help in evolving a consensus for action to combat the forces of Islamophobia, xenophobia and racism.”

Legislators, stakeholders decide to revive defunct Pakistan Steel Mills

Updated 21 October 2019

Legislators, stakeholders decide to revive defunct Pakistan Steel Mills

  • Senate body decides to clear Rs14-15 billion of workers’ dues in 18 months, Senator Aurangzeb Khan tells Arab News
  • The mill’s closure has cost the country Rs50 billion during the last 14 months: Stakeholders

KARACHI: Pakistan’s legislators and stakeholders on Monday decided to revive the country’s largest lossmaking public sector megacorporation, the Pakistan Steel Mills, and clear about Rs15 billion belonging to its workers, a senator and stakeholders confirmed to Arab News on Monday.

A meeting of Senate’s Standing Committee on Industries and Production was held to review the revival plan of the Pakistan Steel Mills which has remained non-functional since June 2015 after witnessing a decline in its production since 2008.

“The steel mill will be revived and for that, we have scheduled an advisory meeting in the next 15 days that will determine our future course of action. Today’s meeting was attended by professionals and they have informed us that the mill is 100 percent in working condition. They also maintained that some vested interest groups do not want to run the steel mills,” said Senator Aurangzeb Khan, member of the standing committee.

“When and how to restart the steel mills will be decided in the next meeting,” he assured.

The Pakistan Steel Mills was constructed in 1973 under an agreement signed between the country’s administration and the erstwhile Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) in 1971. The Soviets also agreed to provide technical and financial assistance for the construction work.

The senator said that the accumulated dues of workers and stakeholders had increased to around Rs15 billion since the closure of the mill.

“The steel mill is closed and the workers’ dues have accumulated to Rs14-15 billion. Today we have decided that the dues will be paid in 18-month installments of Rs5 billion which will be released in six months each,” Khan said.

Pakistan is also seeking Chinese and Russian help to revive the steel mills, though the stakeholders informed the senate body they could revive it on their own with local expertise.

“We don’t need any Chinese or Russian experts; we can run the mill with local expertise. Machinery and specialists, if needed, will be allowed to hire,” Mumrez Khan, the convener of the PSM Stakeholders’ Group, comprising employees, pensioners, suppliers, dealers, and contractors, told Arab News.

The incumbent government of Prime Minister Imran Khan is looking at various options to revive the steel mills that include induction of professional management, but no final decision has so far been made in this connection.

“The daily losses are estimated to be around Rs120 million due to the closure of plants,” Mumrez Khan claimed, adding that during the last 14 months of the current administration the closure of the mill has cost the country Rs50 billion.

The stakeholders made the revival of the mill contingent on the reconstitution of the board of directors by inducting relevant experts and professional management.

They also insisted on initiating the accountability process against people responsible for its closure, asking the government to refer their cases to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and instruct the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to recover the mill’s dues.

“The steel import tariff must be rationalized to provide level playing field to all the competitors in the country,” Khan added, claiming that “the revival of the steel mills will add Rs100 billion revenue.”

“I have informed the legislators that the accumulated losses of the steel mills have jumped to about $11 billion due to the closure of plants and imports of steel products,” he said.

Pakistan is also mulling to privatize this lossmaking public entity but no decision has so far been taken. However, it was decided that the defunct entity would be revived before taking any final decision regarding its privatization.

Spread over an area of 18,600 acres with 10,390 acres for the main plant, the Pakistan Steel Mills is located 40 kilometers from Karachi in the Port Qasim vicinity. The PSM had a production capacity of 1.1 million tons of steel which was expandable to 3 million tons per annum. The main PSM products included coke, pig iron, billets, cold-rolled sheets, hot-rolled sheets, and galvanized sheets.