Pakistan labels deliberate murder of Pakistani-Muslim family in Canada ‘terrorism’

Pakistan labels Canadian family's murder as terrorism

On Tuesday, the Canadian government denounced the deliberate murder of four Muslim family members of Pakistani descent, calling it a “terrorism incident” and an “Islamophobic attack.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan led the condemnation of the shooting in the Canadian province of Ontario, calling it ‘an act of terrorism.

“Saddened to learn of the killing of a Muslim Pakistani-origin Canadian family in London, Ontario. This condemnable act of terrorism reveals the growing Islamophobia in Western countries. Islamophobia needs to be countered holistically by the international community,” he tweeted.

A 20-year-old man ran over four members of a Pakistani family with his truck, killing them all. A man, his 74-year-old mother, his wife, and their daughter were among the deceased. The assault wounded a nine-year-old child from the same family, who is still in the hospital.

Later, a police officer in Ontario informed the media that there is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated hate crime. We believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith.”

After Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi issued a policy statement, the topic was debated in Pakistan’s National Assembly, where lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed their sorrow and denounced the occurrence.

The disturbing episode, according to the foreign minister, is part of a rising, yet concerning trend of Islamophobia. He brought up the mosque assault in New Zealand and the obscene drawings that were published in countries such as the Netherlands and France.

The only problem the deceased had, according to Mr. Qureshi, was that they were Muslims. He urged Muslim nations to work together to combat Islamophobia, claiming that Pakistan alone would be unsuccessful in doing so.

Concerned by the escalating trend of Islamophobic assaults in the West, the foreign minister called on the international community to pay notice and put a stop to it quickly.

The minister told the assembly that he had sought information from Pakistan’s consul-general in Ontario as well as the country’s high commissioner in Canada, and said the facts of the assault were heartbreaking, and that he couldn’t offer a detailed account of the occurrence.

Mr. Qureshi speculated that western governments may label it a   However, this was not a one-off act. If the trajectory indicated that this was an increasing trend, the minister expressed worry.

For the last two years, Prime Minister Imran Khan has been pushing the problem with the international community, he added.

According to the foreign minister, there have been several cases in which Muslims have been stabbed in the United Kingdom. He estimated that 65 million Muslims resided in Europe, two million in Canada, and over six million in the United States. He was concerned that such tragedies will polarise society.

This rising trend of Islamophobia will have to be curbed immediately. If they [Western countries] do not do this, the situation can worsen, society can be divided, hate speech, incitement, conflict can be created. Emotions arise and tragedies happen, he warned.

Mr. Qureshi said there was a 12-hour gap between the incident and when the family was informed about it and Pakistan’s consul general was the first person to talk to the family. He said this was not a hate crime and there was no doubt that four counts of murder were being applied on the killer, but we cannot rule out terrorism.

He stated the dead man’s name was Salman Afzal and that the family was from the Gulberg region of Lahore and that they had relocated to Canada 10 years ago. The man worked as a physiotherapist, and his family had been living there quietly for some time.

Mr. Qureshi said the dead man’s brother, who lives in Australia, had been notified and was going to Canada, and that the family members were in shock and sadness and would not speak to the media. He said that the family members had also declined the government’s offer to transport the remains to Pakistan for burial, stating that the dead will be buried in Canada.

The minister praised Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for tweeting that the incident was horrifying and that he had “adopted a clear stance which is encouraging”.

Mr. Qureshi said he met with Canadian High Commissioner in Islamabad Windy Gilmour earlier in the day and discussed the Pakistani nation’s thoughts and worries with her.

He said he urged to Canada’s high commissioner that Mr. Trudeau visits with the families of that slain, saying it would send a positive message to the country’s Muslims. He said he and his Canadian colleague had scheduled a phone meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday (today).

Mr. Qureshi has brought the problem to the attention of international human rights organizations. He also expressed the hope that the tragedy would not be overlooked by the worldwide media.

Shireen Mazari, the Federal Minister for Human Rights, said Pakistan should not be defensive and rather openly name it terrorism. She accused the West of adopting double standards, claiming that Muslim women in France are not permitted to wear the hijab yet nuns are permitted to cover their heads in public.

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