ISLAMABAD: Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir Shehryar Khan Afridi on Saturday urged the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to depute a fact-finding commission to investigate cases of religion-based violence.
Speaking at an event held here to mark the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief, Mr Afridi said the United Nations and the OIC needed to form probe commissions on the basis of the reports of the Office of the United Nations Human Rights Commission in 2018 and 2019 on the Indian atrocities against Kashmiri Muslims.
Dismayed over the callous silence of the world over the ongoing bloodbath of Muslims in India-held Kashmir, particularly the mysterious silence of the Muslim world towards the increasing acts of religion-based violence in occupied Kashmir, Mr Afridi said that this was the time for Muslims across the globe to raise their voice for their brethren in occupied Kashmir who are suffering at the hands of the Indian fascist regime.
Mr Afridi said the Hindutva rulers of India had repeatedly inflicted violence on the majority Muslim population in occupied Kashmir, locked mosques, banned religious organisations and gatherings under a double lockdown.
He said the Indian government decision of giving domiciles to those Hindus who are not residents of Kashmir and granting them land for running businesses was an act of religion-based violence against Muslims of the occupied valley.
Qureshi says Pakistan will continue to advance efforts to protect individuals against xenophobia, discrimination
Urging the leadership of the OIC to take necessary steps to address the issue, Mr Afridi said the global Muslim leaders should move beyond customary statements.
He said Kashmiris were the victim of violence based on religion and belief. “Prior to 1947 at the hands of Dogra Hindus, who inflicted insurmountable violence on Muslim Kashmiris, banned Islamic rituals and attacked mosques.”
He said after partition of the subcontinent, Hindu terrorists led by RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) goons massacred more than 300,000 Muslims in Jammu.
“Mosques were burnt and some were converted into temples. Over a million people were forced to migrate to Pakistan because of their beliefs. Since then Muslims of occupied Kashmir have always been at the receiving end,” he added.
Mr Afridi said the Indian state had been aiding and abetting violence against Muslims in occupied Kashmir.
“Mosques are shut down for weeks, many times Eid prayers are not allowed, seminars on religion are banned. The Jamia Masjid in Srinagar has been a primary target of the Indian fascist regimes. Since August 5, 2019, only twice congregational Friday prayers were allowed in the mosque. In 2016, the mosque was shut for 18 consecutive Fridays,” he concluded.
Besides, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan would continue challenging faith-based violence and religious discrimination and recalled the sufferings of Indian Muslims and Kashmiris living under the Hindutva-inspired BJP government.
In a statement on the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief, he said: “Pakistan will continue to advance international efforts to protect individuals against xenophobia, intolerance, discrimination, negative stereotyping, stigmatisation, violence and incitement to violence based on religion or belief.”
He said Pakistan had always been supportive of global initiatives for promoting peace, tolerance, inter-cultural and inter-faith harmony.
Mr Qureshi recalled the steps taken by the government domestically to promote religious freedoms and protect the religious minorities, including establishment of the National Commission for Minorities, and restoration of places of worship of minorities.
He said: “We opened the Kartarpur Corridor and constructed the world’s largest Gurdwara, allowing easy access to our Sikh brethren from the neighborhood and across the world. The UN Secretary General termed it as a ‘corridor of hope’.”
The foreign minister expressed concern over the global resurgence of xenophobia, hatred and acts of violence against minorities. He noted that Muslims were the major targets of these crimes because of disproportionate growth in hate speech against them and their stigmatisation.
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had been a vocal critic of Islamophobia and he has been playing a leading role in countering them.
Speaking about India, Mr Qureshi said: “The BJP-RSS regime in India, inspired by the extremist Hindutva ideology, has embarked upon a sinister design to cleanse India of the vestiges of its Islamic heritage, and make Muslims second class citizens, and even non-citizens”.
“Suffering of Muslims of India has increased manifold during Covid-19 due to targeted disinformation and deliberate hate campaigns against them,” he added.
He also drew the attention towards the plight of Kashmiris living in the occupied region and called on the international community to urge India to lift its military siege of the Valley.
“For over a year, the people of IIOJK (India-held Kashmir) have been deprived of all fundamental freedoms, including their right to perform their religious duties. India must be held accountable for its serious crimes against the Kashmiri people,” he added.
The foreign minister said the commemoration was “an important occasion to renew global solidarity in countering discrimination, hatred, and acts of violence against people and communities on the basis of religion or belief”.
Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2020