ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Saturday rejected Indian concern over Karak temple vandalism telling New Delhi to end its own state sponsorship of discrimination against minorities before lecturing others.

“As a perennial purveyor of state-sponsored discrimination against its minorities, India is in no position to pontificate on the issue of minority rights elsewhere,” the FO said in its rejoinder to a statement by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs on the Karak incident.

The Indian ministry, in a demarche given to the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi, had urged the Pakistan government to ensure safety and security of its minority communities, including protection of their religious rights and cultural heritage.

A mob had on Wednesday vandalised a temple in Karak district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on being instigated by a local cleric affiliated with the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl. The cleric was angry over renovation work at the temple and resumption of visits by pilgrims after it was handed back to the Hindu community a few years ago by the Supreme Court.

The temple was damaged and set on fire by the mob.

The FO in its reaction dismissed Indian concern as “completely unwarranted”.

Delhi advised to put its own house in order before lecturing on minority rights

“This is not the first time the Indian Government has tried to feign concern for minority rights elsewhere while being the most egregious and persistent violator of minority rights itself,” it said.

The FO recalled India’s own abysmal record on treatment of its minorities.

“From discriminatory Citiz­en­ship Amendment Act (CAA) to National Register of Citizens (NRC); from the Gujarat massacre of 2002 to the Delhi pogrom of 2020; from the reprehensible demolition of Babri Mosque in 1992 to the despicable acquittal of all the accused by Indian cou­rt in 2020; from blaming Mus­­lims for spreading Corona­virus to banning of inter-faith marriages; from cow vigilantism and mob lynchings to terming the Muslims of West Bengal ‘termites’ and threatening to ‘throw them into the Bay of Bengal’; from extra-judicial killings of inn­ocent Kashmiris to blatant attempts to turn Mus­lims into a minority in Indian Ille­gally Occ­upied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK) through distribution of ‘fake domicile certificate’,

the RSS-BJP regime’s record is rep­lete with instances of gross and systemic violations of the rights of minorities, in particular Mus­lims,” it said listing some of well-known incidents of discrimination and violence suffered by Indian minorities.

The FO also reminded India about the actions taken by the government against the Karak vandals.

“The clear difference between India and Pakistan in respect of minority rights can be gauged from the fact that the accused in the Karak incident were immediately arrested, orders were issued for repair of the temple, the highest level of judiciary took immediate notice, and senior political leadership condemned the incident,” it said. “Whereas, in India, the blatant acts of discrimination against Muslims and other minorities take place with state complicity. The Indian leadership is yet to condemn the perpetrators of the Delhi massacre in February 2020, let alone bring those criminals to justice,” it added.

Given these incontrovertible facts, the FO said, the Indian government would be well advised to put its own house in order rather than feigning concern for minority rights elsewhere.

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2021

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