ISLAMABAD: Reacting to various ‘irresponsible’ statements being made by the likes of Indian PM Narendra Modi and other politicians across the border, the Foreign Office on Friday said they reflected an unhealthy and entrenched obsession with Pakistan and revealed a deliberate intent to exploit hyper-nationalism for electoral gains.

“These also signify a desperate attempt to deflect attention from mounting domestic and international criticism,” Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch told a weekly press briefing when asked about statements being made on the run-up to elections.

Earlier this week, at an election rally in Bihar, the Indian PM had attempted to take a jibe at Pakistan over its economic woes, saying: “If Pakistan is not wearing bangles, we will make them wear bangles.”

Modi added: “They don’t have flour, they don’t have electricity, now I have come to know that they even have a scarcity of bangles.”

According to the Hindustan Times, the remarks were an apparent reaction to a warning from veteran Indian National Congress leader Mani Shankyar Aiyar, who had warned the Modi government to respect nuclear-armed Pakistan.

The FO spokesperson also drew the world’s attention to the suffering of the people of held Kashmir, where she said that over 22,000 widowed women and 107,000 orphaned children were suffering under the yoke of Indian occupation.

“The plight of the families of the victims of enforced disappearance is equally lamentable,” the spokesperson remarked, referring to the annual International Day of Families observed on May 15.

Calling the ruthless Indian oppression the root cause of the sufferings of Kashmiri families, the spokesperson urged India to allow Kashmiris to practise their right to self-determination as guaranteed by the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions.

Responding to India’s inflammatory rhetoric about Azad Jammu and Kashmir, she reiterated that “historical facts, legal principles, moral considerations and ground realities refute India’s baseless claims and Jammu and Kashmir remains an internationally-recognised disputed territory as the UN Security Council resolutions mandate a plebiscite under auspices of the United Nations. We believe that no amount of inflated Indian statements can change this reality.”

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2024

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