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Pakistan still hails Osama Bin Laden as ‘martyr’: India at UNGA

Sneha Dubey, first secretary at India’s UN mission in New York, described Pakistan as “an arsonist disguising itself as a firefighter”.
First Secretary Sneha Dubey responding to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's speech at the 76th session of UNGA, in New York on Friday. (ANI)
Updated on Sep 26, 2021 12:16 AM IST
ByRezaul H Laskar, New Delhi

India has rubbished Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s criticism of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir at the UN General Assembly, and said the neighbouring country has misused global forums to spread false propaganda while openly using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

As in recent years, India fielded a young woman diplomat – Sneha Dubey, first secretary at India’s UN mission in New York – to exercise the right of reply to respond to allegations made by the Pakistani premier at the General Assembly. Dubey described Pakistan as “an arsonist disguising itself as a firefighter”.

India said in its response that Khan’s recorded video message to the General Assembly was another attempt to tarnish the image of the UN by bringing in India’s internal matters and to “spew falsehoods on the world stage”.

“Regrettably, this is not the first time the leader of Pakistan has misused platforms provided by the UN to propagate false and malicious propaganda against my country, and seeking in vain to divert the world’s attention from the sad state of his country, where terrorists enjoy free pass while the lives of ordinary people, especially those belonging to the minority communities, are turned upside down,” Dubey said.

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Pakistan, she added, has been globally recognised as a country that is “openly supporting, training, financing and arming terrorists as a matter of state policy”, and holds the “ignoble record of hosting the largest number of terrorists proscribed by the UN Security Council”. UN member states are also aware that Pakistan has an “established history and policy of harbouring, aiding and actively supporting terrorists”.

The world has not forgotten that the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks in the US, Osama Bin Laden, was given shelter in Pakistan, and that “even today, Pakistan leadership glorify him as a ‘martyr’”, Dubey said.

“Regrettably, even today we heard the leader of Pakistan trying to justify acts of terror... We keep hearing that Pakistan is a ‘victim of terrorism’. This is the country which is an arsonist disguising itself as a firefighter,” she said.

Pakistan’s policy of nurturing “terrorists in their backyard in the hope that they will only harm their neighbours” has affected the region and the world, and it has even tried to “cover up sectarian violence in their country as acts of terror”, she added.

India’s response reiterated that the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh “were, are and will always be an integral and inalienable part” of the country, and this includes “areas that are under the illegal occupation of Pakistan”. Dubey said: “We call upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation.”

Outlining India’s position, Dubey said: “We desire normal relations with all our neighbours, including Pakistan. However, it is for Pakistan to work sincerely towards creating a conducive atmosphere, including by taking credible, verifiable and irreversible actions to not allow any territory under its control to be used for cross-border terrorism against India in any manner.”

India’s response also referred to Pakistan’s “despicable record” of genocide against the people of Bangladesh, and said the minorities of Pakistan, including Sikhs, Hindus and Christians, live in “constant fear and state-sponsored suppression of their rights”.

“Dissenting voices are muzzled daily and enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings are well documented,” Dubey said, adding that pluralism is “very difficult to understand for Pakistan, which constitutionally prohibits its minorities from aspiring for high offices of the State”.

In his recorded message to the General Assembly, Prime Minister Khan had spoken about issues such as the need for a global dialogue to counter Islamophobia and steps to promote interfaith harmony, but a majority of his address was focused on India and Afghanistan.

He alleged that the “worst and most pervasive form of Islamophobia now rules India” and criticised the BJP government, referring to what he said were incidents of mob lynching and a discriminatory citizenship law. Khan was particularly critical of the Indian government’s handling of the Jammu and Kashmir issue, and referred to “illegal and unilateral measures” imposed since August 2019, including the jailing of political leaders, clampdown on the internet and suppression of protests.

“Pakistan desires peace with India, as with all its neighbours. But sustainable peace in South Asia is contingent upon resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people,” Khan said.

He said Pakistan had reaffirmed the 2003 ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC) in the hope that it “would lead to a rethink of the strategy in Delhi”. He added, “Sadly, the BJP government has intensified repression in Kashmir and continues to vitiate the environment by these barbaric acts. The onus remains on India to create a conducive environment for meaningful and result-oriented engagement with Pakistan... It is also essential to prevent another conflict between Pakistan and India.”

While speaking on Afghanistan, Khan referred to fake news that said former US president Ronald Reagan had compared Afghan mujahideen to the “founding fathers of the US”. His remarks that Pashtun people in Pakistan’s tribal belt had “strong sympathies” with the Afghan Taliban and that Afghan refugees have affinity with the Taliban were widely criticised on social media.

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