India has called for making Pakistan answer for patronising and unleashing terrorists and has put a spotlight on Islamabad “mainstreaming persecution of minorities”.
“Pakistan should be held accountable for extending patronage to terrorist outfits, engaging in cross-border terrorism and providing terrorists sustenance and support in the territories under its control,” Seema Pujani, a First Secretary in India’s UN Mission in Geneva, told the Human Rights Council on Thursday.
Calling “terrorism is a crime against humanity”, she said: “The terrorists supported and trained by Pakistan are behind vicious terror attacks in India as well as linked to those taking place in other parts of the world. They are responsible for violating the right to life of people in our region and are a threat to peace and security everywhere.”
“Pakistan holds the ignoble record of hosting the largest number of terrorists proscribed by the UN Security Council.”
Pujani was exercising the right of reply in Geneva to Pakistan Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari’s statement at the High-Level Segment of the Council’s 49th session.
She said: “Mazari’s statement is nothing but smoke and mirrors. Pakistan’s tendency to propagate false and malicious propaganda against my country is nothing but a bid to deflect attention from the sorry state of affairs within Pakistan, particularly when it comes to the mainstreaming of radicalism and the persecution of minorities including Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Ahmadiyyas.”
Responding to Mazari’s assertion that Kashmir was “under illegal occupation of India” and that India “has accelerated the scale and pace of demographic changes”, Pujani said: “The entire territory of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh is an integral and inalienable part of India. All the measures taken by my Government to ensure socio-economic development and good governance therein are matters internal to India.”
Pujani recalled the assassination of Pastor William Siraj in Peshawar in January, the death sentence impose on Pastor Zafar Bhatti on allegations of blasphemy, “and the countless cases of abduction, forced conversion and marriage of minor girls from minority communities in Pakistan” as examples of the religious persecution of minorities in Pakistan.
“Some of the most draconian blasphemy laws in the world, that carry a potential death sentence for anyone who insults Islam, threaten the lives of minority communities in Pakistan.”
There are about 80 persons on death row or serving life imprisonment in Pakistan convicted on blasphemy charges in highly flawed judicial procedures and the accused are often presumed guilty, she said.
“Increasingly, these cases are being settled with violence outside the courtroom,” she said, citing the lynching of Sri Lankan Christian Priyantha Kumara in Sialkot in December 2021 and the stoning to death of Muhammad Mushtaq in Khanewal district last month.
“The case of Roshni Meghwar of Sindh, only 13 years old, who was abducted, forcibly converted and married off to her abductor is an example of the impunity with which rights of religious minorities are trampled over in Pakistan,” Pujani added.
She also said that the places of worship of minorities were being desecrated with no action to protect them, she added.
Regarding statements made by the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation, Pujani said: “We regret that the OIC countries continue to allow Pakistan to misuse OIC platforms to indulge in anti-India propaganda.”
She also took exception to Turkey’s mention of Kashmir during the session and said: “We regret the comments made by Turkey on a matter that is an internal affair of India and advise it to refrain from making unsolicited comments on our internal matters.”
(Arul Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed @arulouis)