United Nations, March 8 (IANS) India has called for a “UN-led consensus on zero tolerance on terrorism”, while condemning Pakistan’s use of cross-border insurgency as an instrument of state policy.
“We all need to unequivocally condemn terrorism and its perpetrators,” Rajiv Chander, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, told the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday after Islamabad had criticised New Delhi.
He said that in Jammu and Kashmir, “the central problem is cross-border terrorism and Pakistan’s use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy”. “This fact needs due recognition.”
“We firmly believe that UN-led consensus on zero tolerance on terrorism is as much an international obligation as it is a commitment to our own people” he said.
Speaking after the Pakistani delegation, who launched an attack asserting that Jammu and Kashmir “was under illegal Indian occupation”, Chander declared that “the whole state is an integral part of India. Pakistan remains in illegal occupation of a part of our territory”.
He did not directly mention the Pakistan representative or the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet, who had criticised India on Wednesday.
“India is a secular State and safeguarding the rights of minorities forms an essential core of our polity” Chander said in comments that responded to her criticism.
“The Indian Constitution enshrines various provisions for the protection of rights and interests of the minorities… The state makes no distinction between caste, creed, colour or religion of a citizen.”
Bachelet had spoken of “reports that indicate increasing harassment and targeting of minorities – in particular Muslims and people from historically disadvantaged and marginalised groups, such as Dalits and Adivasis” and said that “that narrow political agendas are driving the further marginalisation of vulnerable people” and deepening inequalities.
Chander said that as the world’s largest democracy, “Indian polity also weaves in immense diversity along with respect for tolerance and mutual understanding”.
India had an independent judiciary, free and vibrant media, and a vocal civil society while “national and state-level Human Rights Commissions along with other specific Commissions continue to monitor complaints from minority communities”.
The Indian government has issued Communal Harmony Guidelines that sets out standard operating procedures to deal with communal violence, he added.
Pakistan’s acting Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Tahir Hussain Andrabi, spoke twice before Chander — the first time on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and then on behalf of his country.
In his OIC speech, he made only a passing reference to Jammu and Kashmir along with other hotspots like Myanmar, where he said people suffered from long-standing disputes.
Speaking on behalf of Pakistan, Andrabi denied that his country had a hand in the troubles in the state, asserting that the source of the unrest was “indigenous” and cited Indian “experts” as saying it resulted from its “own operational and policy failures” that alienated Kashmiris.
He mentioned the arrest of Kashmiri journalist Asif Sultan as an example of reprisals against human rights activists.
Sultan, a former assistant editor of Kashmir Narrator, has been charged with harbouring terrorists.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)