By Amit Agnihotri
New Delhi: India has slammed Pakistan for continuing to push terrorists across the border in Jammu and Kashmir, charged it of peddling a false narrative against Indian laws and policies, and alleged that the neighbouring country is trying to portray military and financial help to terrorists as supporting a freedom struggle.
“While the world is coming together to battle the pandemic, it is unfortunate that Pakistan, a state which sponsors cross border terrorism, continues to use every opportunity to peddle false narratives and make baseless, malicious and egregious allegations against India and interfere in our internal affairs,” Mahaveer Singhvi, head of the Indian delegation, said at a United Nations (UN) meet during the ongoing virtual Counter-Terrorism Week.
He was speaking at a webinar on ‘The Global Scourge of Terrorism: Assessment of High-Risk Threats and Trends, including the rise of Violent Extremism and Hate Speech in a Pandemic Environment‘ held at the UN headquarters in New York yesterday.
India’s diplomatic attack has come in the wake of increased shelling by Pakistan security forces along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and a surge in terrorist attacks in the Union Territory over the past months as the government got busy tackling COVID-19.
Singhvi told Pakistan to introspect why it is universally acknowledged as the international epicentre of terrorism and a safe haven for terrorists, and slammed the western neighbour for raising domestic Indian issues at international fora.
Pakistan has been miffed since the blunting of the Article 370 of the Constitution of India, which was blocking the Union Territory‘s full integration into the Indian mainstream, by the Parliament of India in 2019 and the new domicile policy for Jammu and Kashmir announced recently, and has been trying to create disturbance in the region.
“It is seeking to portray its military, financial, logistical support to cross-border terrorism against India as a freedom struggle,” said Singhvi.
Terming Pakistan’s claim of having eliminated terrorist organisation Al Qaeda from its soil as ironic, India cited the June 25, 2020 remark of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan who praised Osama Bin Laden, the global face of terror, as a martyr on the floor of National Assembly of Pakistan.
“This is a chilling reminder of the patronage that the international terrorists receive in Pakistan,” said Singhvi.
He cited the 2008 attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul by a Pakistan-supported terrorist group that claimed several lives and other attacks like Mumbai in 2008, Pathankot and Uri in 2016, and Pulwama in 2019 to support the charge, and said, “it is very unfortunate that a country which perpetrated terrorist attacks is now preaching to the world community.”
Noting that Pakistan ignored human rights violations in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and territories of Jammu and Kashmir illegally occupied by it, the Indian official said the neighbouring country “systematically and consistently discriminated against its religious and cultural minorities.”
The Indian official cited the Pakistan Prime Minister’s public acknowledgement of the presence of up to 40,000 terrorists in Pakistan and that terrorists from there had attacked neighbouring countries as proof of the Indian position.
Singhvi also mentioned a recent report by the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of the United Nations Security Council stating around 6,500 Pakistani terrorists belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba are operating in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan’s role as epicentre of terrorism has been well documented by numerous international organisations” including the UN and the Financial Action Task Force, he said.
Unlike Pakistan, India never makes any distinction between terrorists and condemns terror attacks anywhere in the world, including the recent Karachi stock exchange attack, said Singhvi.
Providing a global perspective on the menace of terrorism during the pandemic, the Indian official said that terrorists had been trying to exploit the distress caused by lock downs and attempting to disturb cohesiveness of societies.
“The increased presence of people online has been targeted by terrorists to spread misinformation through hate speeches, fake news and doctored videos,” said Singhvi. “Terror groups have also exhorted supporters to target security forces and health workers and proscribed terrorist outfits are collecting funds under the garb of charitable activities to finance terror.”
In this scenario, there is a need to “augment international legal frameworks to coherently fight against terrorists,” he stressed.