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Pakistan denounces the ‘terror attack’ on muslim family in Canada

The government on Tuesday condemned the premeditated murder of four Muslim family members of Pakistani origin in Canada, terming it a ‘terrorism incident’ and an ‘Islamophobic attack’.

Prime Minister Imran Khan led the condemnation of the incident in the Canadian province of Ontario by describing the attack as ‘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. Islamophonia needs to be countered holistically by the international community,” he tweeted.

The victims – three generations of the same family who migrated from Pakistan 14 years ago – died on Sunday after a 20-year-old man drove his pickup truck at them in what the prime minister, Justin Trudeau, described as a “terrorist attack, motivated by hatred”.

Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha, 44, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna, and the children’s 74-year-old grandmother died after the attack. Their nine-year-old son Fayez, the lone survivor of the attack, remains in hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

Afzaal was a physiotherapist and active member of the community in London, Ontario, often seen at local cricket matches or at the mosque. His wife, Madiha, was working on her PhD in civil engineering at Western University.

20-year-old Nathaniel Veltman, a resident of London who was arrested after the incident, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He is due back in court on Thursday after being remanded to custody on Monday.

“There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate,” Detective Superintendent Paul Waight of the London police department told reporters.

“We believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith,” Waight said.

The foreign minister  Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the shocking incident was part of the growing, but worrying trend of Islamophobia. He recalled the mosque attack in New Zealand and the blasphemous sketches published in European countries, including the Netherlands and France.

Mr Qureshi said the only fault of the dead was that they were Muslims. He called for collective efforts by the Muslim countries to counter Islamophobia, saying that Pakistan alone would be ineffective in challenging it.

Expressing concerns over the rising trend of Islamophobic attacks in the western world, the foreign minister also asked the global community to pay attention and arrest the trend immediately.

The minister told the assembly that he had contacted Pakistan’s consul-general in Ontario as well as the country’s high commissioner in Canada for information, adding that details of the attack were heart wrenching and he even could not give complete detail of the incident.

Mr Qureshi said the western governments might call it a crazy act of an individual. But this was not an individual act. If the trajectory showed this was a rising trend and it was concerning, said the minister.

He said he had shared the “Pakistani nation’s emotions and concerns” with Canadian High Commissioner to Pakistan Wendy Gilmour. She said Islamophobia, as with all forms of hate, is unacceptable in Canada.

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