• FO regrets installation of provocative mural at Delhi’s new parliament building
• Concerned by move to seek death penalty for Yasin Malik
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has expressed grave concern over the idea of Akhand Bharat (Greater India), which is being increasingly peddled by the ruling Indian dispensation.
Speaking at a weekly press briefing here on Thursday, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch regretted the installation of a mural at the new parliament building in New Delhi.
The mural depicts so-called ‘ancient India’, including areas that now constitute parts of Pakistan and other countries.
“We are appalled by the statements made by some BJP politicians, including a union minister, linking the mural with ‘Akhand Bharat’, she said.
The FO spokesperson said the gratuitous assertion of Akhand Bharat was a manifestation of a revisionist and expansionist mindset that seeks to subjugate the identity and culture of not only India’s neighbouring countries but also its own religious minorities.
“It is a matter of grave concern that the idea of Akhand Bharat is being increasingly peddled by individuals belonging to the ruling dispensation in India. The Indian politicians are well advised not to indulge in rhetoric against other countries merely to further their divisive and parochial political agenda,” Ms Baloch said, adding that instead of nurturing hegemonic and expansionist ambitions, India should resolve disputes with its neighbours and work with them to build a peaceful and prosperous South Asia.
Concern over Yasin Malik
She also expressed alarm over India’s latest move seeking death penalty for prominent Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik. Last year, Mr Malik was awarded life sentence in a contrived case, marked by fabricated charges and denial of fair trial. He is being held in inhumane conditions in the notorious Tihar jail despite his deteriorating health.
Mr Malik is being denied access to family members, lawyers and quality health treatment.
“India’s latest move is another instance of political vendetta aimed at silencing the Kashmiri leadership and intimidating the Kashmiri people. It is a manifestation of India’s unending and pervasive oppression in IIOJK where political leaders and human rights defenders are routinely incarcerated on trumped up and baseless charges,” she said.
The FO spokesperson urged Indian authorities to end this farce trial of Mr Malik.
“He must be provided quality health treatment and allowed to live freely among his people and family. India must also immediately and unconditionally release the Kashmiri leadership and human rights defenders who are being unjustly held in prisons in IIOJK and across India,” she stressed.
In reply to a question, she said in the recent past Pakistan released some Indian fishermen and civilians who had completed their sentence.
A similar group, she said, might be released in coming days. “The release of Indian fishermen and civilians demonstrates Pakistan’s consistent policy of not politicizing humanitarian matters. We also hope that India would undertake similar humanitarian gestures and release Pakistani civilians and fishermen as well.
With regard to the Judicial Commission that you have referred to, that Commission surely exists and the two sides have remained in contact on the mechanics of such visits which we hope will facilitate the civilians and fishermen who are held in prisons in Pakistan and India,“ she said.
The FO spokesperson also said that Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar will undertake official visits to Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Belgium from 5th to 13th June.
She will hold meetings at the ministerial level to discuss political engagement and cooperation in development, trade and climate change. She will also meet lawmakers and local entrepreneurs.
In Belgium, she will hold meetings with Members of the European Parliament and senior officials of the European Commission.
In Sweden, the minister of state will attend the Annual Meeting of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) as a key-note speaker. She will present Pakistan’s perspective on issues of regional and global importance and interact with leading European decision-makers, experts, think-tanks and influencers for debates on foreign policy priorities and challenges.
Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2023