India and Pakistan have traded barbs at the United Nations with Prime Minister Imran Khan slamming India for a “reign of terror” on Muslims, at which an angry New Delhi resorted to level terror allegations at Islamabad.
Addressing the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, PM Imran Khan spoke of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to “purge India of Muslims”.
“The worst and most pervasive form of Islamophobia now rules India,” Khan said in an address, delivered by video due to COVID-19 precautions.
“The hate-filled Hindutva ideology, propagated by the fascist RSS-BJP regime, has unleashed a reign of fear and violence against India’s 200 million-strong Muslim community,” he said.
PM Imran Khan was referring to Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and the affiliated Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a century-old Hindu revivalist movement with a paramilitary component.
Under Modi, India has rescinded the statehood of Kashmir, its only Muslim-majority region, pushed through a citizenship law that critics call discriminatory and has witnessed repeated flare-ups of religious-based violence.
Speaking on the day Modi was visiting the White House, PM Imran Khan — who has yet to speak to President Joe Biden — said that commercial interests with billion-plus India were allowing it to “get away with human rights abuses with complete impunity.”
Responding to the premier’s fiery speech, India’s First Secretary at the General Assembly Sneha Dubey exercised the right to respond and accused Pakistan of sheltering terrorists.
“This is the country which is an arsonist disguising itself as a firefighter,” she said.
“Pakistan nurtures terrorists in their backyard in the hope that they will only harm their neighbours.”
“Unlike Pakistan, India is a pluralistic democracy with a substantial population of minorities who have gone on to hold highest offices in the country,” Dubey claimed.
She said that Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh “were, are and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India”. She emphasised that this includes the areas that are “occupied” by Pakistan, per the report.
Kashmir not India’s ‘integral part’
Meanwhile, exercising the right of reply in response to the Indian representative’s allegations, Pakistani representative Saima Saleem said Jammu and Kashmir is “neither a so-called integral part of India nor is it India’s internal matter”.
The Pakistani representative said India remains in occupation of an internationally recognised disputed territory, whose final disposition needs to be decided in accordance with the democratic principles of a plebiscite under the resolutions of the UN Security Council.
In order to divert attention from the ever-increasing international condemnation of India’s widespread and escalating human rights abuses in India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, New Delhi continues to level baseless allegations and rely on outright lies and obfuscation, she said.
“India’s compulsive obsession with Pakistan is neither new nor surprising. It has permeated its ruling elite and governance structures,” the representative noted.
“But there is a method to this obsession as it underpins India’s electoral and foreign policy under the ruling RSS-BJP ‘Hindutva’ inspired government,” she said.
The representative said the EU Disinfo Lab had graphically revealed how India has deployed such tools of deflection, deception and disinformation against Pakistan, including at the United Nations.
India’s violations of human rights in occupied Jammu and Kashmir are well documented in the two reports of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, the representative said.
Since August 5, 2019, the High Commissioner has urged India to “unlock the situation and fully restore the rights that are currently being denied” to the people of India-occupied Kashmir, she said.
“Major human rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have expressed similar serious concerns about India’s human rights violations, including in occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” she said.
“In fact, a witch hunt has been launched against those who dare to report these crimes. Only last year, Amnesty International ceased work in India citing constant harassment at the hands of the government,” she said.
The representative highlighted that Pakistan had recently released a comprehensive and well-researched dossier containing the entire range of gross, systematic, and widespread violations of human rights being perpetrated by Indian security forces in the occupied territory.
“We call upon the international community to take cognisance of the compelling evidence and hold India accountable for the heinous crimes,” she said.
If India has nothing to hide, it must accept a UN Commission of Inquiry and agree to implement the Security Council resolutions stipulating a plebiscite to enable the people of Jammu and Kashmir to exercise their right to self-determination, she added.
India’s ‘four types of terrorism’
The representative said India was involved in at least four different types of terrorism.
First, India is resorting to “state terrorism” to suppress the people of India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, she said.
“Since 1989, Indian occupying forces have killed more than 96,000 Kashmiris, widowed around 23,000 women, used rape as weapon of war, and orphaned more than 108,000 children,” she noted.
Second, it is funding and supporting terrorist organisations like the TTP which are involved in numerous cross-border terrorist attacks against the Pakistani military and civilian targets, she said.
Third, India is financing and organising mercenary terrorist organisations against Pakistan to impede the economic growth and prosperity of the region, the representative said.
“India’s National Security Advisor (NSA), Mr Ajit Doval, has publicly admitted supporting and financing of such mercenaries,” the representative said, noting arrested Indian spy, Kulbhushan Jadhav, had also confessed to organising such terrorism in Pakistan.
Fourth, India is being guided by a supremacist ideology that has mainstreamed Islamophobia and bigotry against minorities particularly Muslims in its political discourse, she added.
‘Concerted campaign to destroy Muslim heritage’
In today’s incredibly intolerant India, the 200 million-strong Muslim minority faces frequent lynching by ‘cow vigilantes’; pogroms by RSS thugs, with official complicity; discriminatory citizenship laws to disenfranchise Muslims; and a concerted campaign to destroy mosques and the rich Muslim heritage of India, the representative said.
“The Indian delegation would do well to reflect on the deeply troubling trajectory their state is embarked upon, rather than indulging in patent falsehoods about Pakistan,” she said.
“India must realise that it has continuously and miserably failed to suppress the Kashmiris living under its occupation from demanding their inalienable right to self-determination,” Saleem added.