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India slams ‘worst human rights offender’ Pakistan at UN forum, tells Turkey to ‘practise what it preaches’

India requested the United Nations Human Rights Council to call upon Pakistan to take credible and irreversible steps to end state-sponsored terrorism and dismantle terrorist infrastructure in the territories under its control (File image courtesy: India at UN)

New Delhi has slammed Islamabad at the ongoing session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva saying Pakistan, a country with one of the world’s worst human rights records, would do well to put its own house in order instead of engaging in baseless and malicious propaganda against India. 

Exercising its Right of Reply in response to the statement by representative of Pakistan during the High-Level Segment, Seema Pujani, Second Secretary in the Permanent Mission to the UN, said that Pakistan has chosen to misuse the august forum yet again, which is not new. 

India also termed remarks made by Turkey on Kashmir as "completely unacceptable", saying it is ironical for a country which has trampled upon its own civil society to pass unjustified comments on other's internal matters.

New Delhi reiterated that instead of focusing on the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh – which are an integral and inalienable part of India – Pakistan should instead focus on the deplorable condition of its religious minorities.

"The violence, institutionalized discrimination and persecution faced by Pakistan’s minorities, including Christians, Sikhs and Hindus, has continued unabated. There have been frequent attacks on the places of worship of minority communities, a grave violation of their right to freedom of religion and belief," Pujani said.

India highlighted the condition of women belonging to minority communities and the plight of Shias, Hazaras and Ahmadiya communities who continue to face persecution, state-condoned violence and discrimination.

"An estimated 1,000 women from minority communities are subjected to abduction followed by forced conversion and forced marriage in Pakistan every year, according to a recent report published by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Most of these women fall in the age-bracket of 16-25 years. The fact that young women, and not men or older women, are the main victims of forced conversions is a telling fact about Pakistani society."

India told the UN forum that it is well known that Pakistan has been crushing dissent and engaging in political repression in Balochistan, and other regions, for decades. Enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture have been used as tools of coercion. Several Baloch human rights defenders have even met tragic death under mysterious circumstances, while in exile. Pashtuns and Sindhis have continued to struggle against the systemic oppression and discrimination.

"Instances of repression of journalists and civil society activists are rife. Gulalai Ismail, a Pakistani human rights defender who campaigned against violence against women and enforced disappearances was charged with sedition, terrorism and defamation in May 2020. In August 2020, Ms. Ismail sought refuge in the USA. As retribution, the Pakistani authorities have now arrested her father, Muhammad Ismail, on ‘terror’ charges," Pujani said in her reply.

In September 2020, UN human rights experts condemned the enforced disappearance of Idris Khattak, a former consultant with Amnesty International and Human Rights watch. Khattak had himself worked on reports on enforced disappearances in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, before disappearing himself in November 2019, in a cruel twist of fate. The UN human rights experts have called upon the Pakistani authorities to end Mr. Khattak’s secret detention at the earliest.

"Pakistan has been the home and patron to the largest number of internationally proscribed terrorist entities and individuals in the world. As many as 126 individuals and 24 entities, sanctioned under the UN Security Council 1267 and 1988 Committees’ Lists, are associated with Pakistan. State-sponsored terrorism by Pakistan is a threat, not only to India but to other countries in the region and beyond," India mentioned in its reply.

The recent acquittal of Omar Saeed Sheikh, the al-Qaeda terrorist and murderer of the American journalist Daniel Pearl by the Pakistani Supreme Court is a clear example of the Pakistani establishment’s nexus with such entities and, as the US Secretary of State said, it is "an affront to terrorism victims everywhere.”

India requested the Council to call upon Pakistan to take credible and irreversible steps to end state-sponsored terrorism and dismantle terrorist infrastructure in the territories under its control.

Pujani also advised Turkey to "practise what it preaches" by first implementing the UN Resolutions that apply to it.

As regards the OIC’s statement, India reject the factually incorrect and unwarranted references to India.

"We regret that the OIC countries continue to allow Pakistan to misuse OIC platforms to indulge in anti-India propaganda. The Government of India is fully cognizant of its human rights obligations and committed to the promotion and protection of the human rights of our people. The statement of our External Affairs Minister has outlined India’s perspective on human rights, both in relation to India and in the global context," Pujani concluded.