India hits back at Pak, raises issue of ‘enforced disappearances’ in Balochistan at UNHRC

at 8:24 pm
Indo-Pak trade

New Delhi (NVI): Angry at Pakistan for repeatedly ranting about Kashmir, India made the most stinging attack on it today by telling the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) about the atrocities being committed by the Pakistani State in Balochistan besides the “institutionalized discrimination and persecution” being perpetrated against minorities, including Christians, Sikhs and Hindus, in Pakistan.

Perhaps raking up the Balochistan issue for the first time at an international forum, India specifically referred to “enforced disappearances” and “repression” carried out by Pakistani State agencies and mentioned how the family of woman activist and journalist Gulalai Ismail, who is in self-imposed exile in the US, was facing retribution for raising human rights issues.

India also slammed Turkey and the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) for making references to internal affairs of this country.

Exercising its ‘Right of Reply’ in response to the statement by representative of Pakistan during the High-Level Segment of the UN Human Rights Council, an Indian diplomat said, “We are not surprised that Pakistan’s representative has chosen to misuse this august forum yet again. Pakistan’s continued misuse of various platforms to engage in baseless and malicious propaganda against India is not new.”

Reiterating that the entire Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are an integral and inalienable part of India, India said, “The steps taken by the Government to ensure good governance and development in these Union Territories are our internal matters.”

“As a country with one of the world’s worst human rights records, Pakistan would do well to put its own house in order, before venturing to point a finger at India.

“The violence, institutionalized discrimination and persecution faced by Pakistan’s minorities, including Christians, Sikhs and Hindus, has continued unabated. There have been frequent attacks on the places of worship of minority communities, a grave violation of their right to freedom of religion and belief.

“The condition of women belonging to minority communities, notably Hindus, Sikhs and Christians, remains deplorable. An estimated 1,000 women from minority communities are subjected to abduction followed by forced conversion and forced marriage in Pakistan every year, according to a recent report published by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Most of these women fall in the age-bracket of 16-25 years. The fact that young women, and not men or older women, are the main victims of forced conversions is a telling fact about Pakistani society.

“Shias, Hazaras and Ahmadiya communities have continued to face persecution, state-condoned violence and discrimination.

“It’s well known that Pakistan has been crushing dissent and engaging in political repression in Balochistan, and other regions, for decades. Enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture have been used as tools of coercion. Several Baloch human rights defenders have even met tragic death under mysterious circumstances, while in exile. Pashtuns and Sindhis have continued to struggle against the systemic oppression and discrimination.”

The Indian diplomat went on to add, “Instances of repression of journalists and civil society activists are rife (in Pakistan). Gulalai Ismail, a Pakistani human rights defender who campaigned against violence against women and enforced disappearances was charged with sedition, terrorism and defamation in May 2020. In August 2020, Ms. Ismail sought refuge in the USA. As retribution, the Pakistani authorities have now arrested her father, Muhammad Ismail, on ‘terror’ charges.”

India noted that in September 2020, UN human rights experts had condemned the enforced disappearance of Idris Khattak, a former consultant with Amnesty International and Human Rights watch.

“Mr Khattak had himself worked on reports on enforced disappearances in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, before disappearing himself in November 2019, in a cruel twist of fate. The UN human rights experts have called upon the Pakistani authorities to end Mr. Khattak’s secret detention at the earliest,” it said.

Hitting out at Pakistan, India said the country “has been the home and patron to the largest number of internationally proscribed terrorist entities and individuals in the world.”

It pointed out that as many as 126 individuals and 24 entities, sanctioned under the UN Security Council 1267 and 1988 Committees’ Lists, are associated with Pakistan.

“State-sponsored terrorism by Pakistan is a threat, not only to India but to other countries in the region and beyond,” it said.

The recent acquittal of Omar Saeed Sheikh, the al-Qaeda terrorist and murderer of the American journalist Daniel Pearl by the Pakistani Supreme Court is a clear example of the Pakistani establishment’s nexus with such entities and, as the US Secretary of State said, it is ‘an affront to terrorism victims everywhere’,” the Indian diplomat said.

“We request the Council to call upon Pakistan to take credible and irreversible steps to end state-sponsored terrorism and dismantle terrorist infrastructure in the territories under its control,” he said.

As regards the remarks made by Turkey, the Indian diplomat said, “We find them completely unacceptable. It is ironical for a country which has trampled upon its own civil society to pass unjustified comments on other’s internal matters.”

Regarding the UN Resolutions, India said, “We would advise Turkey to practise what it preaches by first implementing those UN Resolutions that apply to it.”

Referring to the OIC’s statement, it said, “We reject the factually incorrect and unwarranted references to India. We regret that the OIC countries continue to allow Pakistan to misuse OIC platforms to indulge in anti-India propaganda.”

The diplomat underlined, “The Government of India is fully cognizant of its human rights obligations and committed to the promotion and protection of the human rights of our people. The statement of our External Affairs Minister has outlined India’s perspective on human rights, both in relation to India and in the global context.”