India has no grounds to judge minority rights elsewhere: FO

-Says highly hypocritical of India to comment on minority rights abroad
-Rejects India’s unwarranted remarks on Ranjit Singh Statute vandalism
-Adds a mature state would have appreciated the immediate arrest of the accused
-Clarifies Pakistan has always worked to ensure constitutional protections of minorities
-Urges India to ensure the safety, protection, and well-being of Muslims and other minorities
-Condemns tear gas shelling on peaceful Muharram procession in IIOJK

By Asghar Ali Mubarak

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Wednesday rejected the “gratuitous remarks” by the Indian External Affairs Ministry regarding the vandalism of Ranjit Singh’s statue, terming India “highly hypocritical” as it itself is a purveyor of state-sponsored discrimination.
“It is highly hypocritical of a country that is a purveyor of state-sponsored discrimination against its minorities to pontificate on the issue of minority rights elsewhere,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Office.
The statement said: “A mature state would have appreciated the immediate arrest of the suspect against whom strict legal action has already been initiated.”
It said the government, legislature, judiciary, civil society, and the media in Pakistan have always worked for ensuring constitutional protections for members of minorities as equal citizens and their places of worship, whereas in India, incidents against minorities were taking place with state complicity.
“Rather than feigning concern for minorities elsewhere, India should seriously introspect, move away from entrenched anti-minority mindset being destructively spawned by the RSS-BJP regime, and discard state-sponsored discriminatory policies,” it said. The FO urged upon India to ensure the safety, protection, and well-being of minorities including Muslims, and take effective steps for the protection of their places of worship, culture, and heritage sites.
A video of a man destroying the statue of 18th-century Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh with his bare hands at the Lahore Fort went viral earlier on Tuesday.
The video showing a young man destroying the statue was reportedly the third time the statue has been vandalised since 2019.
The suspect has been taken into custody by the Lahore police.
Later in the day, Pakistan strongly condemned the use of tear gas shells and firing of warning shots on Muslims taking part in peaceful Muharram procession in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
Dozens of Kashmiris have reportedly been detained and journalists have also been subjected to baton charge, the Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement.
He said the imposition of restrictions on Muharram processions represented complete disrespect and deep-rooted prejudice by the Indian government for the sentiments of the Muslims in IIOJK.
It is also a flagrant violation of Kashmiris’ fundamental right of freedom of religion, he remarked.
The spokesperson urged India to realise that through oppression, intimidation and systematic violation of fundamental rights, it could not break the will of Kashmiris in their just struggle for right to self-determination.
“Pakistan calls upon international community, the United Nations, and other human rights and humanitarian organisations to take notice of brutal suppression of the religious rights and freedoms of the Kashmiri people in violation of international law and conventions,” he added.