23:29 GMT28 February 2021
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    Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations has criticised “Hindutva extremists” in India as Islamabad co-sponsored a resolution on safeguarding religious sites at the 75th General Assembly. Islamabad alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government wanted to eliminate the Islamic heritage in India.

    India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations T.S. Tirumurti has said that it is "great irony" that a country like Pakistan is one of the co-sponsors of a new United Nations (UN) resolution which calls for promoting peace and safeguarding religious sites across the world.

    “It is a matter of great irony where the most recent attack and demolition of a Hindu temple took place in a series of such attacks and where rights of minorities are being emasculated is one of the co-sponsors of the resolution under the agenda of Culture of Peace,” stated Tirumurti.

    “The resolution cannot be a smokescreen for countries like Pakistan to hide behind,” New Delhi’s representative to the UN added.

    ​The remarks by Tirumurti came in response to a resolution on "Promoting a Culture of Peace and Tolerance to Safeguard Religious Sites”, backed by Saudi Arabia and Morocco. The 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), of which Pakistan is a part, unanimously endorsed the resolution.

    The mentioning of the destruction of a Hindu temple by Tirumurti referred to an incident last month, when a Islamist mob razed a Hindu temple in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhthunkhwa province. New Delhi formally protested the incident. After widespread outrage and condemnation of the act, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that a new temple would be constructed using state funds on the site of the structure.

    Responding to Pakistan’s claims of India’s roughly 200 million Muslims having been relegated to “second-class citizens” under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, India’s UN representative re-assured in his statement that the Indian Constitution prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion.

    Pakistan's "Rebuke to Hindutva Extremists"

    Delivering a statement on the new resolution, Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the UN Munir Akram said that it was a “rebuke to Hindtuva extremists” in India, who he alleged wanted to ”eliminate” the Islamic heritage and legacy in India through the destruction of Muslim shrines and monuments.

    ​"The resolution condemns all acts and threats of violence, destruction and damage directed against religious sites that have continued to occur across the world, especially in India," Akram also said in his remarks.

    The OIC bloc, the main sponsor of the resolution, has been critical of the Narendra Modi government over a number of its policy decisions over the last two years.

    In November last year, an OIC resolution after the annual meeting in Niger called upon New Delhi to roll back its 2019 constitutional changes in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

    In 2019, the OIC had expressed concerns over India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as well as the Indian Supreme Court’s verdict on the Babri Mosque dispute earlier that year.

    The CAA, passed in Indian Parliament in December 2019, fast-tracks citizenship applications for religious minorities from neighbouring Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Critics of the CAA fear that keeping Muslims out of the scope of the new law could ultimately pave the way for the disenfranchisement of Muslims in India, a claim that the Modi government has consistently denied.

    In a landmark verdict in 2019, India’s Supreme Court handed over a previously disputed site to Hindu litigants who wanted to construct a temple there. The site in the north Indian town of Ayodhya previously hosted a mosque, which was razed by a frenzied Hindutva mob in 1992.

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    Tags:
    Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, United Nations, Pakistan, India
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