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PM Khan calls NZ counterpart Ardern, appreciates ‘humane handling of terror attack’

March 21, 2019

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  • Ardern promptly labeled last week’s twin mosque assaults as ‘terrorism’ and moved to heal her nation’s grieving Muslim community
  • Announced that coming Friday’s call to prayers for Muslims in New Zealand will be broadcast nationally

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan called Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, on Thursday to condemn last week’s attacks on two mosques in the city of Christchurch and express his admiration over her compassionate handling of the aftermath of the assaults, particularly her attempts to heal her nation’s grieving Muslim community.

At least 50 people, including nine Pakistanis, were killed in twin attacks on two mosques by an ultra-right white extremist who live streamed the assaults and posted an elaborate racist manifesto online.

The majority of the victims were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The youngest was a boy of three, born in New Zealand to Somali refugee parents.

The calm and compassion shown by Ardern in response to the killings has burnished the credentials of a leader whose youth and celebrity had given critics’ doubts in the past.

The Pakistani prime minister’s office said in a statement that during his phone conversation with the New Zealand premier, Khan appreciated the quick response of local authorities to the attacks and the high level of respect for Muslims shown by Ardern.

“Prime Minister Arden has shown the way to other leaders in the face of rising Islamophobia and global extremism,” the statement said, adding that Khan thanked Arden on behalf of the people of Pakistan “for her compassion, leadership and decisions that won her many admirers in Pakistan.”

PK Khan also conveyed his condolences over the loss of 50 lives.

“Pakistan is itself a victim of terrorism and has lost more than 70,000 innocent lives. Pakistan stands by the government and people of New Zealand in this hour of grief,” Khan said.

In the hours after the carnage in Christchurch, Ardern promptly labeled the mass killing an act of terrorism, and set about reassuring a nation that has been largely unscathed by the violence and fears that have afflicted other countries in the past two decades.

A day after the attack, she led a multi-party group to visit grieving families and Muslim community members and announced that the coming Friday’s call to prayers for Muslims in New Zealand would be broadcast nationally.

The statement from the Pakistani prime minister’s office said Arden told Khan that New Zealand was in shock after the attacks and informed him of the immediate actions taken in the aftermath, including the banning of all military style semi and automatic guns and assault rifles.

“She also acknowledged the sacrifices of Pakistanis in the attack, particularly the bravery and valour of Mr. Naeem Rasheed,” the statement said.

Rasheed was gunned down in one of the mosque attacks while trying to stop the attacker.  Pakistan has announced a national award for him.

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