| Pakistani man jailed for sloganeering against PM

Shehbaz Sharif at Masjid-e-Nabwi

ISLAMABAD   -   Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said Friday that Pakistan is reaching out to international community to build a collective response against India's persecution of minorities specially Muslims.

In his weekly news briefing in Islamabad on Friday, he called upon India to show moral courage and unequivocally condemn blasphemous remarks made by two senior officials of the ruling BJP Party and take visible, demonstrable steps to hold them accountable.

“The Indian Charge d’ Affaires was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 6 June and conveyed the Government of Pakistan’s categorical rejection and strong condemnation of the totally unacceptable remarks. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also condemned the dangerous and hurtful comments emanating from these irresponsible leaders of India's ruling party,” he added.

The spokesperson said Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood individually met the Envoys of P-5 countries; and also held a meeting with the OIC Ambassadors in Islamabad to apprise them of the matter and register Pakistan’s strong concern at the sharp increase in Islamophobia and targeting of Muslims in India.

Ahmed said Pakistan has underscored that BJP’s perfunctory and token disciplinary action against those individuals was not sufficient to assuage the pain and anguish they have caused to Muslims worldwide.

“Nor would any attempt to whitewash rising ‘Hindutva’ nationalism in mainstream society by calling the BJP Spokesperson a ‘fringe element’ be of any avail,” he added.

The spokesperson said if “India has any moral courage, or democratic ethos, the BJP top leadership and the Indian government must clearly condemn the actions of the responsible BJP officials, and hold them to account through decisive and demonstrable action. That may be a big ask in today’s “saffronized” India, but this is the least that is being expected of them.”

He added: “This is important because it is not about an isolated incident. There are continuing serious concerns about the alarming rise in Islamophobia, and communal violence and hatred directed against Muslims and other minorities in India, who are being systematically stigmatized, marginalized and subjected to a well-orchestrated onslaught from radical Hindu mobs with full connivance and support of the security apparatus across various states in India. Regrettably, the Indian state machinery has remained aloof to the desperate calls for assistance by the local Muslim and minority communities across the country including Sikhs, Christians and Dalits.”

Ahmed said in clear contrast, while India persisted with its reprehensible campaign of “saffronization” resulting in victimization and persecution of Muslims and other minorities. “Pakistan, in line with its policy of promoting interfaith harmony and religious tolerance, has issued 163 visas to Sikh pilgrims from India on the eve of Martyrdom Day of Guru Arjun Dev Ji, to participate in the annual festival being held in Pakistan from 8-17 June,” he mentioned.

To a question, he said, according to Pakistani Mission in Saudi Arabia, it has been learnt that Muhammad Tahir has been awarded three years imprisonment and a fine amounting to SAR 10,000/- on account of uploading a video of the unfortunate incident that took place in Masjid-e-Nabwi on social media.