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Right of Reply under General Debate Agenda Item 4 delivered by Mr. Pawankumar Badhe First Secretary, Permanent Mission of India, Geneva [Geneva, 15 March 2021]

46th session of the Human Rights Council
(22 February to 23 March 2021)
Right of Reply under General Debate Agenda Item 4 delivered by Mr. Pawankumar Badhe First Secretary, Permanent Mission of India, [Geneva, 15 March 2021]

Madam President,

I am exercising India's right of reply in response to the incessant misuse of this Council by Pakistan for its fallacious and malicious propaganda against my country.

2. As highlighted by various SRs and Civil Society Organizations, this Council must pay urgent attention to Pakistan’s deplorable human rights records and discriminatory treatment of its ethnic and religious minorities.

3. According to victim groups, tens of thousands of persons have disappeared from Balochistan since the year 2000. Families of persons who have disappeared continue to struggle for their voices to be heard. Hundreds of supporters of these families held a 10 day sit in protest in Islamabad last month. Balochistan has now come to be known as the ‘land of the disappeared’.

4. The risk of enforced disappearances has heightened in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan after promulgation of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Actions Ordinance, which gives security agencies vast abusive powers, including the power to detain people without trial or charge on vaguely defined grounds.

5. There has been an alarming increase in blasphemy accusations under Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws, which carry a potential death sentence. Around 200 such cases were reported last year.

6. The case of ‘Arzoo Raza’ a 12 year old girl who was abducted, chained in a cattle pen and forced to marry her abductor is emblematic of the systematic discrimination and persecution faced by Christian, Hindus and other minorities in Pakistan. In September 2020, over 30,000 people gathered in Karachi, demanding that Shia Muslims be declared heretics and ‘blasphemers’ and, calling for their beheading. The killing of 11 coal miners of the Shia Hazara community, in January this year, is the latest in the series of acts of violence against Shia community to which they have been subjected in Pakistan.

7. A climate of fear continues to impede media coverage of abuses by both the Government and the militant groups. A Pakistani Minister declared in February 2021 that people who speak against the Pakistan Army “should have their tongues ripped out from their throats”. Pakistani journalists not only face threats but are often kidnapped and tortured for expressing views that differ from the Government’s narrative.

8. Political and human rights activists continue to be targeted and charged under draconian laws in Pakistan, including under the anti-terrorism act. While Gulalai Ismail, a woman human rights defender, who campaigned against violence against women and enforced disappearances, was charged with sedition, terrorism and defamation and had to flee from Pakistan, her father Muhammad Ismail has been arrested on ‘terror’ charges recently.

Madam President,

9. It is high-time that Pakistan, which continues to export terrorism, is held accountable for its state-sponsored and supported grave violation of human rights of its people. It is high time that the failed state of Pakistan stops preaching and focuses on its responsibility towards the millions suffering in Pakistan.

Thank you Madam President.