Hindu pilgrims gather by the banks of the River Sarayu to perform morning rituals in Ayodhya, India , Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. India's security forces were on high alert ahead of the Supreme Court's verdict Saturday in a decades-old land title dispute between Muslims and Hindus over plans to build a Hindu temple on a site where Hindu hard-liners demolished a 16th century mosque in 1992, sparking deadly religious riots. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh) — AP

'Travesty of justice': Pakistani politicians, civil society react to Ayodhya verdict

Politicians and journalists question merit and timing of the ruling by the Supreme Court of India.
Published November 9, 2019

The Indian Supreme Court on Saturday, in its order on a long-standing dispute over land in Ayodhya, said that a temple be constructed on the site, while acknowledging that the demolition of the 460-year-old Babri Mosque in 1992 was a violation of law.

The verdict was issued hours before the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, which allows Indian Sikhs to arrive in Pakistan without a visa for pilgrimage to the shrine of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism.

The verdict, that is likely to affect the already fraught relationship between India's Muslim and Hindu communities, sparked strong reactions from politicians and journalists in Pakistan, who questioned the merit of the judgement and also raised questions over the timing.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif called the verdict a "travesty of justice".

"Indian SC judgement in land dispute of Babri Masjid represents travesty of justice," he tweeted. "It is yet another sign of how saffron ideology is eating into the vitals of Indian society and entire secularism project is collapsing brick by brick. Indian Muslims are being pushed against the wall."

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said that the verdict marked the "end of facade of secular India".

In a tweet, she noted that India's top court "[accepted] that desecration of Mosque was [against] the law and [held] forth on control of inner and outer areas etc. the core of judgement is: disputed land to be given to a Board of Trustees to build Ram Mandir. Muslims to be given alternate land!"

"So basically Hindutva wins as SC creates a Trust to be handed land to build temple saying mosque cannot be on that site! End of facade of secular India. Indian SC in tune with Hindutva narrative of Modi!"

Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, in a tweet, termed the verdict as "shameful, disgusting, illegal and immoral".

MNA Asad Umar warned that "extremist views [...] are now becoming pervasive in the state institutions of India also".

He further said: "As extremist, xenophobic thought takes control of Indian state and society, nuclear India emerges as biggest threat to global peace."

JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman issued a statement and said: "We condemn the Indian Supreme Court's verdict [...] it reflects narrow-mindedness. India has failed in protecting its minorities."

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, while talking to DawnNewsTV, questioned the timing of the verdict.

"Couldn't it (the verdict) wait for a couple of days?" he asked. "I believe that extreme insensitivity has been shown on a happy occasion and I am greatly saddened."

In a separate conversation with Geo News, Qureshi said that the ministry will examine the verdict and issue a statement on the contents.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman pointed out that while Pakistan was opening the Kartarpur Corridor for Indian Sikhs, the Indian Supreme Court had announced a verdict against the Muslim community.

"This is a reflection of a new India that we should understand. There is no pretence that their (India's) constitution or any institution will provide any protection to Muslims," she said while speaking to Geo News.

"You have seen how they are treating non-citizens in Assam. On the other hand, Pakistan's treatment towards its non-citizens is completely opposite where [the state] wants their integration in society."

She also criticised the government for not protesting against India's actions.

PPP Senator Rehman Malik noted the timing of the verdict and said: "PM Modi/RSS once again demonstrated anti-Muslim syndromes and anti-Sikh sentiments to have the judgement to replace the temple/Mander with Babari Masjid on the day of opening of “Kartarpur Sikh holy corridor" today (sic).This is the anti-peace message from PM Modi to Pakistan today."

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail said: "What a shameful decision by Indian Supreme Court. Pakistan on the other hand is restoring Kartapur while India is destroying historical mosque. @ImranKhanPTI showing gesture towards minorities and @narendramodi proving his loyalties with RSS. Indians must reject this extremism."

The journalist community also expressed disappointment over the verdict. Former Dawn editor Abbas Nasir tweeted: "BJP and the Indian Supreme Court joining hands to vindicate Jinnah. Well done."

Anchorperson Hamid Mir, while talking to Geo News, termed the verdict as a "political decision". He said that the announcement of the verdict on a weekend, which coincided with the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, was also "political".

"I am forced to say that the Indian Supreme Court's verdict on Babri Mosque will [lead to] a fall in [the judiciary's] image and the structure of the Indian constitution."

Lawyer Taimur Malik said also criticised the Ayodhya verdict and said: "On this 9th day of Nov 2019, Pakistan’s civil and military institutions have won the hearts of an entire religious population by opening #KartarpurCorridor while India’s once famously independent judiciary has failed the country’s main religious minority through #AyodhyaJudgement."