Foreign Office spokesman rejects Indian criticism over acquittal of U.N.-designated individuals by Pakistani courts
Pakistan on Friday hoped that India will soon reopen the Kartarpur Corridor from its side, stressing that Islamabad’s side is open and ready to welcome Sikh devotees.
“We are all set to welcome thousands of devotees from India and around the world coming to Pakistan for the upcoming birth anniversary celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak from Nov. 17-26, for which elaborate arrangements have been put in place,” Foreign Office spokesman Asim Iftikhar told a weekly press briefing in Islamabad.
Pakistan recently marked the second anniversary of the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, he said, adding it was a shining example of Islamabad’s efforts to promote interfaith harmony and reflected the primacy Pakistan accorded to religious minorities in the country.
However, he regretted, that while minorities in Pakistan were free to celebrate their religious festivities, there was growing concern over “how minorities in India, particularly Muslims, are being systematically persecuted and ostracized under the Hindutva driven ideology of the BJP-RSS combine.”
Describing the targeting of Muslims in India as “reprehensible,” he noted their properties and houses of worship had been under fire since last month. “The extent of impunity and state complicity is such that draconian laws are being slapped against those drawing attention towards the ongoing blatant violations,” he said.
In addition to closing its eyes to radical mobs, Indian authorities were also pursuing anti-Muslim citizenship-related policies and actions, he alleged, including the NRC scheme meant to disenfranchise millions of Muslims.
The spokesman also rejected criticism by Indian media over the acquittal of U.N.-designated persons by the Lahore High Court. “This is not the first time that the Indian media has tried to sensationalize legal proceedings of U.N.-designated persons and this is basically designed to serve a vested agenda,” he said, stressing Pakistan’s criminal justice system was grounded on the principle of due process and the rule of law.
“It allows even convicted individuals the fundamental right to exhaust all legal means that are available to them. The cases reported by the Indian media have not reached finality,” he said, adding that U.N.-designated persons related to this case continued to be interned after being convicted in other cases.
Iftikhar also updated journalists on recent diplomatic engagements, including the meeting in Islamabad of the Troika Plus group, as well as the visit of Afghanistan acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi. He said OIC Assistant-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Special Envoy for Jammu and Kashmir Ambassador Yousef Al-dobeay, accompanied by a high-level delegation, had visited Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir from Nov. 7-12.
To a question on the assets of Afghanistan frozen by the U.S., the spokesman said Pakistan had sensitized the need to release these in all its interactions with the global community. To another query, he reiterated that Pakistan firmly adhered to the One-China Policy.
“The affairs related to Taiwan are China’s internal matter. We oppose any notion of ‘Taiwan Independence’ or ‘One China, One Taiwan.’ There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is part of China. The issue of lawful representation of the Chinese people at the U.N. has been settled 50 years ago,” he said.