Pakistan government condemns burning of Quran by US pastor

Islamabad - Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani Monday condemned the burning of the Muslim holy book over the weekend by a controversial pastor in Florida, United States.

The action by pastor Terry Jones on Sunday drew criticism from the US government and widespread condemnation from Muslims.

Pakistan's government said in a statement that Gilani "condemned the desecration of the Holy Quran" while addressing a special meeting of cabinet.

Deputy Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said that the act was reprehensible, and could only be the work of extremists, designed to provoke dissent and discord across the world.

"Such sacrilegious acts go against the very concept of inter-faith harmony," Khar said. "There could be no justification for such acts. This has deeply hurt the feelings of the people of Pakistan and Muslims all over the world."

Hundreds of protestors took to the streets, as the incident inflamed already widespread anti-US sentiments, and the authorities called for restraint.

Pakistan has also asked the US administration and the rest of the international community to take note of the desecration and take measures to stop future incidents.

The US embassy in Islamabad issued a statement saying that the incident was "an isolated act" and "does not reflect the general sentiment of respect toward Islam by the people of the United States."

Ambassador Cameron P. Munter was quoted by the statement as saying "the deliberate destruction of any holy book is an abhorrent act."

"We absolutely reject religious intolerance in any form," the ambassador was quoted as saying, adding that the US commitment to freedom of religion was enshrined in the country's constitution.