Statement by Ambassador Raza Bashir Tarar Permanent Representative of Pakistan in the General Assembly to introduce the Pakistan–Philippines Joint Resolution on “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace” (New York 17 December, 2012)

Mr. President,

In our capacity as one of the two main co-sponsors of the resolution under discussion, it is my privilege to join my distinguished colleague, the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Philippines in introducing the text contained in document A/67/L.44, entitled “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace”.

My Philippine colleague has correctly described the continued significance of this important initiative that our two countries have led for some time. We are grateful to all Member States in particular to the co-sponsors who have continued to support this initiative since its inception. Over time, this initiative has acquired added support in terms of co-sponsorship from increasing number of Member States from different regions, which is reflective of its importance and the need to pursue it meaningfully at various levels.

Mr. President,

The draft resolution was discussed thoroughly for two weeks at the Experts level in informal consultations. These discussions were held in a collegial atmosphere that enabled us to enrich the contents of this resolution in a meaningful and consensual manner. The sponsors would like to convey their gratitude for the constructive contributions from all our partners to streamlining and strengthening this important resolution. We are equally grateful to delegations for their flexibility and cooperation to achieve a balanced text that reflects the views of all partners. We, accordingly, hope that as in the past the text will again be adopted by consensus.

Mr. President,

Incidents of intolerance, discrimination, hatred, xenophobia and violence based on ill-perceived perceptions of different cultures and religions are on the increase. Divisive ideologies, mutual suspicion and mistrust are being fueled by extremists and opportunists in all societies. As responsible representatives of our societies, we need to tackle this problem upfront with courage and clarity. The way forward is not estrangement but more engagement. Only through dialogue we can overcome the unfounded but deeply entrenched mutual fears that are based on a lack of understanding of various religions and cultures as well as each other’s perspectives.

This resolution seeks to promote dialogue between different religions and cultures to promote tolerance, mutual respect and better understanding of each other’s views and beliefs. Interreligious and intercultural dialogue must be pursued in an organized manner at all levels, including but not limited to religious leaders, institutions, local and national governments, regional and international organizations, civil societies and Media.

Mr. President,

Pakistan believes that religious and cultural diversity are positive driving forces that can meaningfully contribute to the socio-economic development of multicultural societies. We, therefore, need to strengthen religious and cultural harmony within and among societies.

We are very pleased with the outcome of the International Year of Rapprochement of Cultures in 2010. We hope that the proclamation of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures 2013-2022, through this resolution, would further promote ongoing Interreligious and Intercultural dialogue to achieve our common objective of better understanding and peace among societies.

Pakistan appreciates all relevant initiatives being taken by various governments and organizations at different levels. Civil Society too has played an important role in promoting this cause. We acknowledge their contributions and encourage them to continue with their valuable efforts for the common good of humanity.

In Pakistan, we have established Interfaith Harmony Committees throughout the country. These Committees include representatives from all religions to enhance understanding, address misperceptions and promote harmony through dialogue. Pakistan also actively participates in the Asia-Europe Meetings on Interfaith and intercultural dialogue, which meaningfully contribute in promoting social cohesion, peace and development.

We urge all Member States to support this resolution to promote dialogue at various levels to foster greater understanding and cooperation between religions and cultures. This in turn would contribute towards achieving a global culture of peace, something that we all aspire for.

I thank you Mr. President.