MR MEER

Islamabad: Pakistan’s top leadership and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Sunday criticised what they described as the deliberate targeting of Muslims by the Indian government against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Imran Khan followed up on tweets by the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission of the OIC on the issue and compared the Indian government’s treatment of Muslims to what the Nazis did to the Jews in Germany.

In a tweet, President Arif Alvi, a close aide of Khan, accused the Indian government of suppressing the Kashmiri people through “extreme violence, torture and oppression”. He posted a graphic with figures that purported to show that the ratio of soldiers to civilians in Kashmir was higher than the ratios for the number of ventilators and doctors.

There was no immediate response from Indian officials to the remarks by the Pakistani leadership.

In recent months, Khan has repeatedly criticised the Indian government’s attitude towards the country’s Muslim minority and the external affairs ministry has pushed back against his remarks, describing them as interference in India’s internal affairs. The Indian side has also targeted Khan for failing to counter cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistani soil.

Khan tweeted: “The deliberate & violent targeting of Muslims in India by Modi Govt to divert the backlash over its COVID19 policy, which has left thousands stranded & hungry, is akin to what Nazis did to Jews in Germany.”

Hours earlier, the OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission had, in a string of tweets, condemned what it described as the “unrelenting vicious Islamophobic campaign in India maligning Muslims for spread of #Covid-19 as well as their negative profiling in media subjecting them to discrimination & violence with impunity”.

It urged the “Indian government to take urgent steps to stop the growing tide of #Islamophobia in the country and protect the rights of its persecuted Muslim minority as per its obligations under [international human rights] law”.

The commission is an expert body of the OIC with advisory capacity.

India’s foreign minister was invited as a special guest at a meeting of foreign ministers of OIC states in the UAE last year, marking a high point in New Delhi’s often testy relations with the Islamic grouping.

However, in recent months, the OIC has repeatedly criticised the Indian government’s handling of the situation in Kashmir and attacks on Muslims. The external affairs ministry has rejected this criticism. (HT)