Prophet remark: Defensive with Arabs, govt lashes out at Pakistan
The external affairs ministry on Monday slammed Pakistan and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for criticising the country in the wake of the derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammed by now-suspended BJP spokespersons after making respective embassies do the firefighting on Sunday.
However, the sum and substance of the government’s defence remained unchanged; maintaining that “strong action has already been taken against these individuals by relevant bodies”.
For now, unmindful of the clamour for booking cases against the duo, the government appears to be banking on the situation cooling down in West Asian countries — which saw calls for an India boycott over the weekend —as several of the capitals that summoned Indian diplomats or issued statements have taken note of the removal of Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal from their respective posts in the BJP.
On Monday, Pakistan joined the list of countries that decided to summon India’s diplomatic mission in charge to register their protest. Qatar, Kuwait and Iran had also done that while Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Jordan and Maldives had issued statements.
Pakistan had issued a statement on Sunday and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had tweeted too.
Islamabad followed it up on Monday by summoning India’s Charge d’ Affaires to the foreign ministry where he was told that Pakistan “deplores the belated and perfunctory disciplinary actions taken by the BJP government against the said officials, which cannot assuage the pain caused to the Muslims”.
Unlike with the other countries where an effort was made to spell out the government’s position and the “action” taken by the BJP, the external affairs ministry went for the offensive in the case of Pakistan. “The absurdity of a serial violator of minority rights commenting on the treatment of minorities in another nation is not lost on anyone. The world has been witness to the systemic persecution of minorities including Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Ahmadiyyas by Pakistan,” ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
“The government of India accords the highest respect to all religions. This is quite unlike Pakistan where fanatics are eulogised and monuments built in their honour,” he added, calling on Pakistan to focus on the “safety, security and well-being of its minority communities instead of engaging in alarmist propaganda and attempting to foment communal disharmony in India”.
Condemning the denigration, the general secretariat of the OIC said: “These cases of defamation are part of a growing spate of hate and defamation of Islam in India.”
Further, the OIC urged the international community, in particular, the United Nations mechanisms and the Human Rights Council's special measures, to take necessary measures to challenge practices targeting Muslims in India.
“The OIC calls on the Indian authorities to decisively address these incidents of defamation and all forms of insult to the noble Prophet and Islam and to bring those who incite and perpetrate violence against Muslims to justice and hold those behind them accountable.”
The government dismissed the OIC Secretariat’s observation as “unwarranted and narrow-minded comments”, repeating that action had been taken by relevant bodies while the fact is that the BJP took disciplinary action after more than a week and only in the face of a groundswell of anti-India sentiment in West Asia.
“It is regrettable that OIC Secretariat has yet again chosen to make motivated, misleading and mischievous comments. This only exposes its divisive agenda being pursued at the behest of vested interests. We would urge the OIC Secretariat to stop pursuing its communal approach and show due respect to all faiths and religions.”
In a related development, the foreign ministry of Oman said its under secretary for diplomatic affairs Sheikh Khalifa bin Ali bin Issa al Harthy raised the issue with Indian ambassador Amit Narang.
Stating that the Sultanate of Oman denounced the offensive statements issued by a BJP official, he pointed out that such remarks would fuel public opinion. At the same time, he welcomed the BJP statement professing respect for all religions and the disciplinary action taken by the party.