ISLAMABAD: As the government on Thursday decided to dispatch special envoys to the world capitals, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Hindu nationalist surge in India was currently the most serious threat to peace and security.

“Hindutva, and its capture of Indian state institutions, pose the single gravest threat to global and regional peace and security,” Mr Qureshi said while speaking at a seminar on ‘Global Strategic Threat & Response’ organised by Centre for Aerospace & Security Studies (CASS).

Referring to last week’s violent incidents in Delhi in which 46 people, mostly Muslims, lost their lives when Hindu zealots attacked Muslim neighbourhoods and mosques, Mr Qureshi said: “The pogrom of Gujurat is being replayed on the streets of Delhi.”

India, he said, seemed not content after assaulting Jammu and Kashmir, which was annexed in August 2019, and moved on to disenfranchise India’s 200 million Muslims through the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Hindutva poses the single gravest threat to peace

Meanwhile, the continuing lockdown in occupied Kashmir, which has now completed 214 days, the foreign minister said, was aimed at breaking the will of the Kashmiri people and changing the demography of the occupied region.

“The Modi government’s policies are taking a bloody and dangerous turn,” he warned, adding that the rise of Hindu extremism in India was a matter of deep concern for Pakistan, and should be to the entire world.

He, however, noted that the impunity enjoyed by India at the world stage was decreasing with more and more people questioning Indian excesses against its own minorities and in occupied Kashmir. “India is facing international scrutiny and opprobrium like never before,” he said and recalled that India, which was once praised as ‘incredible’ and ‘shining’, is now being reviled as ‘intolerant’ and ‘burning’.

Mr Qureshi said that India’s belligerence last year, during Balakot standoff, pushed the region to the brink of war. About Pakistan’s response to Indian aerial incursion, he said that the challenge was to avert war, but at the same time Indian aggression could not have been allowed to go unpunished.

“It was Pakistan’s maturity, responsibility and restraint, but also a firm resolve, to respond to naked aggression, that de-escalated the stand-off and helped preserve the peace,” he said.

“We laid bare the fiction of India’s military might, exercised our right to self-defence, and demonstrated our will and capacity to respond to any misadventure,” he added.

Talking about the policy on India, the foreign minister said that while Pakistan did not seek war with India, there was no appeasement either.

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2020