Pakistan on Sunday condemned—“in the strongest possible terms”—remarks of two senior officials of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), stressing that it had hurt the sentiments of billions of Muslims globally.
“BJP’s attempted clarification and belated and perfunctory disciplinary action against these individuals cannot assuage the pain and anguish they have caused to the Muslim world,” read a statement issued by the Foreign Office. “Muslims residing in India are equally outraged by the completely repugnant comments by the two BJP officials. The ensuing communal violence in Kanpur and in other parts of India bears testimony to this fact,” it added.
The BJP, over the weekend, suspended the membership of former spokeswoman Nupur Sharma following global backlash over insults to Islam’s Prophet and his wife, Ayesha, during a TV debate last week. Similarly, BJP’s Delhi media operation head Naveen Kumar Jindal was also expelled after he posted a now-deleted tweet about Islam’s Prophet that also angered many. In a statement, the party—which has been repeatedly accused of facilitating harassment of minorities, particularly Muslims—claimed it “respects all religions” and “strongly denounces insult of any religious personalities of any religion.”
In its statement, the Foreign Office emphasized that Pakistan was “deeply concerned” at the alarming rise in communal violence and hatred directed against the Muslims in India. “Muslims in India are being systematically stigmatized, marginalized and subjected to a well-orchestrated onslaught from radical Hindu mobs with full connivance and support of the security apparatus across various states in India,” it said, regretting that their pleas for assistance had gone unheeded by the government.
“The continued grave violations of the rights of minorities in several BJP-ruled states; anti-Muslim legislations by the Union government of India and continued incidents of violence against Muslims on flimsy pretexts by various ‘Hindutva’ groups with complete impunity, and often under state patronage, highlights the worsening trend of Islamophobia and extremism in India,” read the statement, adding that the “silence of the top leadership of the BJP” was proof that “Hindu zealots” had tacit support of the state machinery for marginalizing and dehumanizing minorities, especially Muslims.
“Reprehensibly, it has become a norm in India to deprive the Muslims of their right to live and freely practice their religion. It is deplorable that the BJP-RSS cohort, under extremist ‘Hindutva’ agenda, has maliciously denigrated and perpetrated senseless violence against Indian Muslims and their places of worship,” it said.
Pakistan urged India to ensure that “decisive and demonstrable action” was taken against people making derogatory remarks and attacking the dignity of Islam’s Prophet. “India must also take immediate steps to protect its minorities from human rights violations, ensure their safety, security and well-being and allow them to profess and practice their faiths in peace,” it added.
The Foreign Office also reiterated calls for the international community to take immediate cognizance of rampant Islamophobia in India, adding that Delhi must be held to account for stifling the rights of minorities. “The international community must dissuade India from its reprehensible campaign of ‘saffronization’ and ensure that Muslims are not victimized for having different religious beliefs than the majority population,” it said, adding the world must intervene to protect Muslims in India from an impending genocide.
Also on Sunday, the Indian Charge d’Affaires was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and conveyed Pakistan’s categorical rejection and strong condemnation of the “highly derogatory remarks” against Islam’s Prophet. In a statement, the Foreign Office said these remarks are totally unacceptable and have not only deeply hurt the sentiments of the people of Pakistan but of Muslims across the world.
“The Indian diplomat was further told that Pakistan deplores the belated and perfunctory disciplinary actions taken by the BJP government against the said officials, which cannot assuage the pain caused to the Muslims,” it said and reiterated Islamabad’s concerns over the “alarming rise in communal violence and hatred against the Muslims in India.”
The ousted BJP spokeswoman’s remarks have set off a firestorm of global outrage, with Arab states—Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia—condemning the statements and calling for respect for all beliefs and religions. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has also condemned the remarks.
In a posting on Twitter, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif noted that he had “repeatedly” said that India under Modi was trampling religious freedoms and persecuting Muslims. “The world should take note and severely reprimand India,” he said, adding that Muslims’ love for the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was supreme and they were willing to sacrifice their lives for the love and respect of their prophet.
President Arif Alvi also condemned the remarks, describing them as a reflection of the growing trend of Islamophobia in India. He said merely suspending and expelling party officials was insufficient and the BJP must shun and denounce its extremist and fascist Hindutva ideology. In a statement on Twitter, ousted prime minister Imran Khan also “strongly” condemned the remarks. “[The] Modi government has been deliberately following a policy of provocation and hatred toward Muslims in India, including inciting vigilante violence against them,” he added.