United Nations, Sep 24: Indian diplomat Mijito Vinito said that peace is possible in the sub-continent only when Pakistan stops cross-border terrorism, “comes clean” and ends persecution of minorities.
Replying to Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s attacks on India at the high-level UN General Assembly meeting on Friday, Vinito disputed his claims about wanting peace with New Delhi pointing out that Islamabad’s actions do not match his words.
He zoomed in on Islamabad’s history of terrorism and said: “A polity that claims it seeks peace with its neighbours would never sponsor cross-border terrorism, nor would it shelter planners of the horrific Mumbai terrorist attack, disclosing their existence only under pressure from the international community.”
Hafiz Saeed, leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba who masterminded the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack in which about 175 people died, is living openly in Pakistan, as is another operative involved in the attack, Sajid Mir.
A country that truly seeks peace “would not make unjustified and untenable territorial claims against neighbours, it would not covet their lands and seek to illegally integrate them with its own”, Vinito said referring to Pakistan’s continued occupation of parts of Kashmir in violation of Security Council Resolution 47 of 1948, which ordered it to withdraw its troops and nationals from there.
Vinito, who is from the 2010 Indian Foreign Service batch and is a first secretary in India’s UN mission, drove his stinging responses home with a calm demeanour.
Exercising India’s right of reply, he countered Sharif’s claims about the treatment of minorities in India and held a mirror to Pakistan’s own record.
“It is not just about the neighbourhood that we have heard false claims today, it is about human rights, about minority rights and about basic decencies.
“When young women in the thousands from the minority community are abducted as an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure), what can we conclude about the underlying mindset?” he asked.
According to the Human Rights Council of Pakistan, Hindu and Christian girls are victims of kidnapping and forced marriages.
“The desire for peace, security and progress in the Indian subcontinent is real. It is also widely shared and it can be realized,” Vinito said.
“That will surely happen when cross-border terrorism ceases, when governments come clean with the international community and with their own people, when minorities are not persecuted, and not least when we recognize these realities before this Assembly.”
In his speech at the Assembly, Sharif had claimed that he wanted peace and offered to speak to India’s leaders, but only after New Delhi gives in to his demands.
The premier said he wanted to turn the page on the 20th century and take on the challenges of the 21st century but quickly went back 75 years raking up the Kashmir dispute, attacking the withdrawal of special constitutional status for that territory.
He catalogued what he said were India’s actions against the Muslim minority.
Saima Saleem, a counsellor in Pakistan’s UN mission, who responded to Vinito, repeated almost verbatim a lot from Sharif’s speech.
She directed many of her remarks against the RSS and also strung together isolated incidents and remarks by fringe characters to make them appear as state policy.
In a bid to stir up Muslims, she brought up the remarks made in a TV programme about Prophet Mohammed by a former BJP functionary but did not say that she is now facing criminal charges.