India on Wednesday criticised Pakistan for raising issues such as Kashmir at the virtual Commonwealth foreign ministers’ meeting, saying it is a “globally acknowledged promoter of state-sponsored terrorism” that masquerades as a victim of the menace.
The remarks were part of a statement delivered by Vikas Swarup, secretary (West) in the external affairs ministry, who participated in the meeting on behalf of external affairs minister S Jaishankar.
Both countries didn’t name each other in their respective statements though it was clear who they were referring to. Pakistan raised the issue of India’s alleged sponsorship of terror activities aimed against Islamabad, and described Jammu and Kashmir as a “disputed territory”.
Swarup said it was unfortunate that the Commonwealth meeting was “misused by one of our South Asian member states to pursue its own bigoted, ill-conceived, narrow and unilateral agenda on a multilateral platform”.
He added, “When we heard them rant about a South Asian state, we were left wondering why it was describing itself? And not surprisingly it came from a globally acknowledged promoter of state-sponsored terrorism masquerading as an alleged victim of the same.”
In his speech, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said, “While the world remains preoccupied with pandemic, a state in South Asia is targeting its religious minority groups in order to foment division and hatred… It has transgressed rights and freedoms of millions and fanned hyper nationalism to engineer illegal demographic change in a disputed territory and sowed racial tensions.”
Swarup accused Pakistan of bringing “genocide to South Asia 39 years back, when it killed its own people”, and said: “This is also the same country that has the dubious distinction of becoming synonymous with the phrase ‘epicentre of terrorism’ and hosting the largest number of terrorists proscribed by the United Nations.”
Swarup said the “only dispute left” in Kashmir, which Pakistan described as a “disputed territory”, is “its own illegal occupation of certain parts, which sooner or later, it would have to vacate”.
“For such a country to hypocritically preach about religious minority groups elsewhere, while trampling upon the rights of its own indigenous minorities, was indeed most regrettable, and a blatant misuse of this august platform,” he added.
Swarup also spoke of India’s role in helping other countries counter the Covid-19 pandemic, saying: “As we move towards development of a Covid-19 vaccine, India (which accounts for 60% of global vaccine production) has already committed its vaccine production and delivery capacity to help the world in fighting this crisis.”
In keeping with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2018, India has opened a “Commonwealth Sub Window” of $50 Million to provide grants to member states for projects related to SDG implementation and climate change.
In its first year of existence, this fund has approved 11 projects in nine Commonwealth countries, including the development of a climate early warning system in seven Pacific Island countries.
India has also more than doubled its support to the Commonwealth Small States Offices Program in New York, from $100,000 to $250,000, and Geneva, from $80,000 to $150,000, to support the engagement of small island developing states with global bodies such as the UN and WTO, Swarup said.