ISLAMABAD - India cannot divert attention from bloodshed in held Kashmir by hurling allegations against Pakistan, the foreign ministry said yesterday.

A foreign ministry statement said that the Indian government’s mischievous portrayal of isolated law and order incidents in Peshawar and Nankana Sahib as alleged ‘persecution’ of minorities was part of its smear campaign against Pakistan and a desperate attempt to divert attention from the ongoing state terrorism in Occupied Jammu.

It said that India wanted the world to ignore the systematic discrimination against minorities in India.

“Pakistan completely rejects these fabrications, which will in no way shield the Indian government from opprobrium by the international community on its illegal actions in held Kashmir and the adverse fallout of the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens,” the statement added.

Pakistan, it said, attached the highest respect and sanctity to all places of worship, including those belonging to Sikh religion.

India urged to protect minorities from Saffron terror

“We categorically reject the Indian allegations regarding any “attack” and “desecration” at the holy Gurdwara Nankana Sahib. These blatant lies are yet another illustration of the quintessential RSS-BJP (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-Bharatiya Janata Party) propaganda drive, which will fail. The Sikh community, the world over, is aware of the importance that the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan attaches to the minorities and their places of worship. The historic opening of the Kartarpur Corridor on 9 November 2019 is a clear manifestation of the Prime Minister’s vision in this regard,” it said.

The statement said that Indian attempts to politicise the tragic killing of a Pakistani Sikh youth were also mischievous and reprehensible. “As this crime was reported, a case was registered immediately and a high-powered committee constituted to investigate the matter. The law will take its course and those responsible will be brought to justice,” it added.

The foreign ministry was referring to two separate incidents that occurred in the past week in the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. In the first, a protest broke out near the Gurdwara Janam Asthan in Nankana Sahib following an altercation between the owners and customers of a local shop.

The Interior Ministry and the Foreign Office both clarified that the protest had nothing to do with religious strife and the instigator had been acting independently. He had since been charged with incitement and was currently under arrest.

Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the incident, saying the protests and threats were against his “vision” and the protest leader would be prosecuted for his actions.

In the second incident, unidentified men shot dead a Sikh man in Peshawar. A police case had been registered and an investigation was underway. Despite this, India condemned, without evidence, the “targeted killing” of a religious minority in Pakistan.

The foreign ministry said Pakistan was a diverse country where people from different faiths, including Hindus, Sikhs and Christians, lived together.

“The Constitution of Pakistan guarantees equal rights to all its citizens and the Government takes this obligation seriously with zero tolerance against any discrimination,” the statement said.

It added: “The RSS-inspired BJP government has absolutely no credentials even to pretend that it is a protector of minorities. Those who are responsible for the desecration and demolition of the Babri mosque, massive killings of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat, frequent incidents of mob lynching, and repeated hate crimes against minorities, simply have no feet to stand on.”

Rather than feigning any dishonest concern for minorities elsewhere, the statement said, “the BJP government would do better by focusing on the ongoing human tragedy at home and protecting India’s minorities from Saffron terror.”