India tore into Pakistan at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday for raking up the Jammu and Kashmir issue, saying a country with a “gory record” on human rights had presented “false” and “concocted” narrative and asserted that New Delhi will accept no foreign interference on the internal matter.
India highlighted that Pakistan is the “epicenter of terrorism”, which conducts cross-border terrorism “as a form of ‘alternate diplomacy’ vis-à-vis India, and cautioned the world body against allowing its platform to be misused by such nations.
“Pakistan has today pretended to speak as the voice of the global community on human rights. But the world cannot be fooled. Pakistan’s gory record speaks for itself,” said Vimarsh Aryan, First Secretary at the Permanent Mission of India to UNHRC.
He was responding on behalf of India to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s address in which he leveled wild and unsubstantiated allegations regarding Jammu and Kashmir.
“I have been forced to take the floor to call out the blatant misrepresentation of facts and false narrative peddled by Pakistan in all its statements today. This is an ill-disguised effort to advance its territorial ambitions. We reject this propaganda,” Aryan said exercising the right to reply.
“We are not surprised at Pakistan’s hysterical statements with false, fabricated narratives aimed to politicize and polarize this forum. Pakistan realises that our recent decision cuts the very ground from under its feet by creating obstacles in its continuing sponsorship of cross-border terrorism against India,” the senior Indian diplomat said.
He added that “in this desperate mind-frame, some Pakistan leaders have even gone as far as to call for ‘Jihad’ and to encourage violence both inside Jammu and Kashmir and in third countries, in order to paint a picture of “genocide’ which even they know is far from reality.”
Hitting out at Pakistan, Aryan said, “This rhetoric will not distract international attention from Pakistan’s persecution and elimination of religious and ethnic minorities – be it the Christians, Sikhs, Shias, Ahmadiyas and Hindus. This is the reason that Pakistan no longer publishes official statistics about its minorities as India does.”
The “blatant abuse” of blasphemy laws in Pakistan to persecute minorities is well documented, he said and gave the example of Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman who was incarcerated for years, and Abdul Shakoor, the 82-year-old Ahmadiya, held under Anti-Terrorism Act for selling books.
He said the recent case of abduction, forced conversion and marriage of a minor Sikh girl Jagjit Kaur, exemplifies the state of women, especially from the minority communities in Pakistan.
“And today, in this Council, Pakistan has the audacity to tell others about human rights that it so egregiously violates again and again,” Aryan said.
“Jammu & Kashmir has been, is and shall continue to be an integral part of India. Pakistan’s nefarious designs will never succeed because the people of India are united in their determination to preserve our territorial integrity along with our core values of democracy, tolerance and unity in diversity. Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh will continue to progress and prosper along with the rest of India,” the diplomat declared.
He said it “defies credibility that Pakistan, which is the epicentre of global terrorism, is claiming to speak on behalf of unnamed countries on the issue of human rights. It forgets that terrorism is the worst form of human rights abuse.”
Earlier, Secretary (East) in the External Affairs Ministry Vijay Thakur Singh, while hitting out at Pakistan, said, “Those who abet, finance and support terrorism in any form on territory under their control are in truth the worst violators of human rights.”
She said Pakistan was crying victim when it actually is the “perpetrator” of human rights violations and cautioned the world body against its platform being misused.
“We should call out those who are misusing this platform for malicious political agendas under the garb of human rights. Those who are attempting this speak on the human rights of minorities in other countries whilst trampling upon them at will in their own country. They cry victim when they actually are the perpetrators,” Singh said.
She said terrorism and its “abettors” threaten the “fundamental human right to life” and asked the world community to speak out as “silence only emboldens terrorists and encourages their intimidatory tactics.
“Today, terrorism poses a grave challenge to the commitment of the international community to protect the right to life and security of people globally. It is extinguishing innocent lives and spreading fear and uncertainty.
“Those who abet, finance and support terrorism in any form on territory under their control are in truth the worst violators of human rights. The world, in particular India, has suffered greatly on account of the activities by practitioners of state-sponsored terrorism and it is time to collectively take decisive and firm action against terror groups and their abettors who threaten the fundamental human right to life,” Singh said.
Talking about the abolition of special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the state, she said the “legislative measures” were taken by India “within the framework of its Constitution” to ensure that “these progressive measures will also be fully applicable to our citizens in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh”.
The diplomat said these decisions were taken by the Indian Parliament after “a full debate that was televised and enjoyed widespread support”.
“We wish to reiterate that this sovereign decision, like other legislations passed by Parliament, is entirely internal to India. No country can accept interference in its internal affairs, certainly not India,” she declared.
Justifying the steps, Singh said these will end gender discrimination, including on property rights and local bodies representation, ensure better protection of juvenile rights and laws against domestic violence, provide for rights to education, information and work besides ending longstanding discrimination against refugees and underprivileged sections.
On restrictions imposed in Jammu and Kashmir, she said “temporary preventive and precautionary measures were necessitated to ensure safety and security of our citizens in the face of credible threats of cross-border terrorism.”
The diplomat said restrictions are being eased continuously and democratic processes have been initiated.
“Despite challenging circumstances, Jammu & Kashmir’s Civil Administration is ensuring basic services, essential supplies, normal functioning of institutions, mobility and nearly full connectivity,” she added.
Slamming Pakistan whose Foreign Minister spoke earlier, the top External Affairs Ministry official said, “One delegation has given a running commentary with offensive rhetoric of false allegations and concocted charges against my country.”
She added, “The world is aware that this fabricated narrative comes from the epicentre of global terrorism, where ring leaders were sheltered for years. This nation conducts cross-border terrorism as a form of ‘alternate diplomacy’.”
Aryan said Article 370 was a temporary provision of the Indian Constitution and “The recent modification to Article 370 is within our sovereign right and entirely an internal matter of India.”
He said the decision removes impediments to the enjoyment of civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights of our citizens in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, especially those dealing with women, children and disadvantaged sections of our society in that region.
The Indian diplomat also said that OIC has no locus standi to comment on the internal affairs of India.
Singh also spoke on the issue of National Register for Citizens (NRC), over which UNHRC chief had made some remarks on Monday.
“It is a statutory, transparent, non-discriminatory legal process mandated and monitored by the Supreme Court of India. Any decision that is taken during the process of its implementation will comply with Indian Law and will be consistent with India’s democratic traditions,” she said.
Highlighting India’s rich democratic credentials dating back centuries, Singh said the country, as a responsible member of the international community, “believes in a constructive approach to promote and protect human rights.”
She said India believes that human rights are best protected when national institutions are strengthened.
“We do so as a nation of 1.3 billion people, which embodies the highest principles of democracy, tolerance and unity in diversity,” she said.