Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan has thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for ‘voicing’ concerns of millions of Muslims regarding insult to their religion and Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) in the name of the “freedom of expression.”
The prime minister, according to his office, held on Monday a telephonic conversation with the Russian leader during which the premier thanked the Russian leader for his “emphatic” statement against insulting the Prophet.
Last month, Putin while addressing an annual news conference in Moscow had said that insulting the Prophet did not count as an expression of artistic freedom but was a “violation of religious freedom”.
The Russian president had also criticised the publication of blasphemous sketches of the Prophet in French magazine Charlie Hebdo.
“What are insults against the Prophet Mohammed? Is this creative freedom? I think not. This is a violation of freedom of religion and a violation of the sacred feelings of people who profess Islam, and this brings to life other, even more, acute and extremist manifestations,” he had said. Such acts, the report quoted Putin as saying, gave rise to extremist reprisals.
Such kind of ‘artistic freedom’ had its limits and it shouldn’t infringe on other’s freedoms, Putin had added.
After his conversation with Putin Prime Minister Imran Khan in a tweet said that he spoke to Putin “primarily to express my appreciation for his emphatic statement that freedom of speech could not be a pretext to abuse our Holy Prophet (PBUH).”
The two leaders also discussed ways to move forward on trade and other mutually beneficial cooperation between the countries. “We invited each other to visit our countries,” he said.
Later, Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) also released a statement on the telephone call and said that PM Imran “appreciated” Putin’s statement.
The prime minister stated that he has been regularly drawing attention of the world, particularly the West towards the appalling rise in Islamophobia and associated hatred in his addresses to the United Nations General Assembly, pointing towards its serious ramifications, the statement said.
The prime minister underscored that Pakistan’s bilateral relationship with Russia was on an upward trajectory with an increased focus on trade, economic ties and energy cooperation. He reiterated the government’s resolve for the early realisation of the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline Project,” the statement added.
‘Afghanistan key to regional peace’
Both leaders also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in different areas like increase in high-level exchanges, and remain in close contact on matters relating to Afghanistan.
“The prime minister underscored that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was pivotal for regional stability. Afghanistan was facing dire humanitarian and economic challenges, and the support of the international community to the people of Afghanistan at this critical juncture remained vitally important,” he stressed.