WASHINGTON: Nudging New Delhi to take “rapid action” to restore normalcy in Kashmir, the United States on Thursday suggested the onus on resumption of talks between India and Pakistan rested on Islamabad acting on terrorism and dialing down its overheated rhetoric. Washington also implicitly
for its phony anxiety over treatment of Muslims in India, wondering why there was not as much concern about the fate of Muslims in China.
The smackdown of Pakistan’s double standards came when Alice Wells, the State Department’s point person for the region, when asked about Pakistan’s over-the-top anxiety on the situation in Kashmir, said US concern about the human rights of Muslims extends “more broadly than just Kashmir” and it has been trying to shine a light on the “horrific conditions that continue to exist for Muslims throughout China.”
“I would like to see the same level of concern expressed also about Muslims who are being detained in Western China, literally in concentration-like conditions,” Wells said when asked about Imran Khan’s cataclysmic remarks on Kashmir.
The Pakistan Prime Minister has been making a big to-do in New York on the sidelines of the annual UN meet over not just the situation in Kashmir, but also the fate of Muslims all across India, invoking scenarios of massacres, genocide, and nuclear war in the subcontinent almost as if he wishes it. He also pledged to fight Islamophobia after a meeting on “Countering hate speech,” announcing that Pakistan, Malaysia, and Turkey would start an English television channel to confront prejudice against Islam.
But in other public engagements, Khan has shirked from discussing China’s treatment of Muslims, which includes incarceration and “retraining” to scrub Islamic values, pleading that he has too many other things on his plate and Islamabad prefers to engage Beijing in private on such matters. Concern over Islamophobia also did not cover the internecine battles within Islam, including enervating Sunni-Shia wars that have killed millions.
Pakistan’s – and Khan’s – duplicity on the issue is subject of both mirth and ridicule on social media where critics are also calling out Pakistan’s own treatment of minority Muslims sects such as Ahmaddiyas, who are officially and constitutionally persecuted in Pakistan, and Shias. As much as there are protests in New York on the sidelines of the UNGA about the human rights situations in the Kashmir Valley, there are also groups of Balochis, Pashtuns, Sindhis, and Mohajirs protesting Pakistan’s treatment of its own citizens.
Still, Wells said Washington would like to see India and Pakistan have a constructive conversation leading to better relations, although that would depend on Pakistan cracking down on terrorism. Conditions for the talks, she said, hinge on “Pakistan’s seriousness of effort in ensuring that groups don’t take advantage and engage in cross-border infiltration, that there are serious steps to implement the Financial Action Task Force action plan that Pakistan has committed to, and which includes the prosecution of UN-designated terrorists.”
“So whether it’s Hafiz Saeed who currently is in custody and under prosecution, but also chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) Masood Azhar, who for long have been able to exploit their presence on Pakistani soil, Islamabad has to take action,” the US official added.
Although Wells said Imran Khan “has been very explicit that that is his intention and his objective” to take these steps, Pakistan’s welshing on rolling up the terror infrastructure it has built up over the past 30 years remains a problem for New Delhi, scuppering any immediate prospect for talks. In brazen display of its concern for the wellbeing of proscribed terrorists, Pakistan recently requested the UN to allow access to the blocked bank account of UN-designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed, to funnel him Rs 1.5 lakhs per month for “personal expenses.”
In his presentations at two thinktanks in NYC, where Imran Khan also made separate appearances, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said Pakistan’s brazenness in initiating terrorism in India (not just in Jammu and Kashmir) had reached the level of “implausible deniability” — it just didn’t care that it was being found out. Under such circumstances, talks with Pakistan would be futile, he indicated.