Geneva [Switzerland]: India on Tuesday firmly rejected Pakistan's allegations at the UN Human Rights Council and hit back saying a "fabricated narrative" on Jammu and Kashmir has come from "the epicentre of global terrorism" and from a nation, which conducts cross-border terrorism as a form of 'alternate diplomacy'.
India also said that its legislative decisions on Jammu and Kashmir cut the ground from under Pakistan's feet by creating obstacles in its continuing sponsorship of cross-border terrorism and its gory human rights record speaks for itself. Rejecting Pakistan's propaganda, India said it was an ill-disguised effort to advance its territorial ambitions and that Islamabad's "hysterical statements with false, fabricated narratives" were aimed to politicise and polarise the forum.
The clash occurred after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi claimed earlier in the day that India had transformed Jammu and Kashmir into a largest "caged prison on this planet" by abrogating Article 370 and that human rights were being "trampled with impunity" there. While Vijay Thakur Singh, Secretary (East) in External Affairs Ministry dismissed Qureshi's allegations while making national statement during the general debate at the UNHRC session, Vimarsh Aryan, First Secretary in the Ministry, later exercised India's right to respond to debunk the claims of Pakistan minister.
Aryan also said that the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has no locus standi to comment on the internal affairs of India. He said Pakistan's rhetoric will not distract international attention from its persecution and elimination of religious and ethnic minorities - be it the Christians, Sikhs, Shias, Ahmadiyas and Hindus and referred to the recent incident of abduction and forced conversion of a Sikh girl. He referred to call for 'Jihad' and to encourage violence both inside Jammu and Kashmir and in third countries.
Singh said the government's decision to abrogate Article 370 and reorganise Jammu and Kashmir, saying that legislative decisions on Jammu and Kashmir were "sovereign" and "entirely internal to India". She said the 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 legislation passed by Parliament is entirely internal to India. No country can accept interference in its internal affairs, certainly not India," she said.
Singh said the Council 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," she said.
Without naming Pakistan, she said that one delegation "has given a running commentary with offensive rhetoric of false allegations and concocted charges against my country." "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'," she said. Singh said 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," she said. The senior MEA official said that 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.
"We must speak out. Silence only emboldens terrorists. It also encourages their intimidatory tactics. India appeals to the international community to work together in the fight against terrorism and their sponsors," she said. Singh said despite challenging circumstances, Jammu and Kashmir's civil administration was ensuring basic services, essential supplies, normal functioning of institutions, mobility and nearly full connectivity.
"Democratic processes have been initiated. Restrictions are being eased continuously. 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," she said. The senior official said that as a responsible member of the international community, India firmly believes in a constructive approach to promote and protect human rights.
Noting that India is an ancient civilisation with immense and rich diversity, she said it also holds the credentials of being the world's largest democracy. Aryan said he had been forced to take the floor to call out the "blatant is a representation 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. We are not surprised at Pakistan's hysterical statements with false, fabricated narratives aimed to politicise and polarize this forum," he said.
He said Jammu and Kashmir has been, is and shall continue to be an integral part of India and Pakistan's nefarious designs will never succeed. "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," he said.
He said the Article 370 was a temporary provision of the Indian Constitution and the recent modification was "within our sovereign right and entirely an internal matter of India." The decision, he said, removes "impediments to the enjoyment of civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights of our citizens in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh," especially those dealing with women, children and disadvantaged sections of our society in that region.
"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," he said. "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," he added.
Aryan said Pakistan has pretended to speak as the voice of the global community on human rights but the world cannot be fooled and it no longer publishes official statistics about its minorities as India does," he said. Aryan said that blatant abuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan to persecute minorities was well documented and referred to forced conversion and marriage of a minor Sikh girl Jagjit Kaur.
"Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman was incarcerated for years. So was Abdul Shakoor, the 82-year old Ahmadiya, under Anti-Terrorism Act for selling books. 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," he said.
Aryan said the people of India were determined to preserve the territorial integrity. "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 and Kashmir and Ladakh will continue to progress and prosper along with the rest of India," he said.