Pakistan claims victory in row over Dutch cartoon contest

Pakistan claims victory in row over Dutch cartoon contest

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.

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