GENEVA: Pakistan has rejected as dubious India’s claims about its “impeccable” disarmament record, saying New Delhi is solely responsible for pioneering nuclear proliferation in South Asia that escalated tensions in the region and beyond.

“It is India which dealt a death blow to non-proliferation norms by conducting its first nuclear test in 1974, followed by additional nuclear tests in 1998,” Pakistani delegate Mohammad Omar told the Conference on Disarmament, now in session in Geneva. India, he said, conducted the test by diverting nuclear material from the Canada-supplied CIRUS reactor in clear violation of its safeguards commitments to the suppliers.

Mr Omar was responding on Wednesday to Indian Ambassador Pankaj Sharma’s statement in which he criticised his Pakistani counterpart Khalil Hashmi for raising “bilateral and regional security issues”, Jammu and Kashmir among them, during his speech to the conference on Tuesday. The Indian envoy claimed that India’s disarmament contributions and credentials were commendable, and that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of his country, while accusing Pakistan of involvement in terrorism.

Says New Delhi has always opposed formalisation of moratorium on nuclear tests in region

Exercising his right of reply, Mr Omar, who is the First Secretary at the Pakistan Mission to the UN in Geneva, pointed out that India had always opposed formalisation of a moratorium on nuclear tests in South Asia.

Despite its ritualistic support to the so-called FMCT (Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty), India has neither declared a moratorium on fissile material production nor ceased it, he said.

“In fact, it (India) continues to exponentially expand production by building new fast breeder reactors, while also amassing tonnes of fissile material stocks in the so-called strategic reserves.”

India remains the leading opponent of proposals to incorporate existing stockpiles in the scope of a treaty on fissile materials, the Pakistani delegate added.

“How does opposition to the inclusion of fissile material stocks square with India’s claimed support for nuclear disarmament?” Unlike India, he said, Pakistan has not violated any of its international commitments or safeguard obligations in the development of its civil and military nuclear programme to this day.

India, on the other hand, he said, has violated the UN Charter, fundamental principles, norms and rules of international law and responsible state behaviour, adding that it has neither accepted nor implemented over a dozen decisions of the UN Security Council on Jammu & Kashmir.

“For 75 years, India has suppressed the inalienable right of Kashmiri people to self-determination, a right enshrined in the UN Charter and endorsed by scores of international covenants and UN General Assembly resolutions. And yet with such atrocious record of defying international legality, India harbours ambitions of becoming a permanent member of UN Security Council,” he said.

“There can be no place in a rules-based international order for such an egregious violator to join this august body as its permanent member,” Mr Omar added.

Under international law, he said, India is an illegal occupier of Jammu & Kashmir, which remains an internationally recognised disputed territory. “It never was and will never be integral part of India.” Under Security Council resolutions, the final disposition of Jammu & Kashmir can only be determined through an impartial plebiscite under UN auspices, the Pakistani delegate said, adding that the Indian occupation since 1947 and its actions of August 5, 2019 remained unlawful.

Describing New Delhi’s narrative on terrorism as “fallacious and self-serving”, he said that like nuclear proliferation, India is also a pioneer of state terrorism in South Asia.

“The foremost victims of this state-directed terrorism are the people of Jammu & Kashmir,” Mr Omar said, adding that their resistance was framed by India as “terrorism” in an attempt to delegitimise the Kashmiri right to self-determination and deflect international attention from its human rights crimes in the colonised territory.

“Contrary to its self-serving mantra, India is not a victim but the mothership of terrorism in South Asia,” the Pakistani delegate said. India had also nourished UN-designated terrorist organisations, such as TTP and JuA, against Pakistan, he added.

About India’s track record on human rights, Mr Omar pointed out that global independent observers and institutions have documented India’s grave and systematic rights abuses in occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

Since August 5, 2019, he said, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has raised grave concerns over India’s arbitrary curbs on Kashmiris’ democratic rights, summary executions, illegal detentions, and reprisal attacks against local civil society actors.

Instead of responding to these credible voices of concerns, he said India has chosen to deny access to the UN human rights machinery to the occupied territory, browbeat the High Commissioner for Human Rights during formal meetings, shuttered international NGOs reporting on its abuses in occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

On top of it, the Pakistani delegate said, India has launched the world’s largest disinformation campaign against Pakistan as part of its signature move to deflect global attention from its “criminal” human rights record.

Referring to the heightened intensity of state-sanctioned hostility, discrimination and violence against Indian minorities, Mr Omar said more than 90 per cent of religiously motivated hate crimes in the last decade have occurred since the “poster-child of RSS — Prime Minister Modi — came to power”. Will the Indian delegation deny the fact that its leaders have openly dehumanised Indian Muslims by calling them “termites” and “unequal citizens”, and publicly called for rape of Muslim women and girls, he asked.

“Can the Indian delegation deny the fact that in this so-called largest democracy, perpetrators of anti-Muslim violence and pogroms have assumed high offices of Prime Minister, Home Minister and Chief Minister? Why have Indian leaders not yet or will they ever denounce the public call for genocide against Muslims that was issued on Dec 17, 2021 in Haridwar, in northern Uttarakhand province?” the Pakistan delegate further asked.

“Silence will reinforce complicity. The world awaits a public condemnation by India’s leadership of this shameful act,” he added.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2022

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