“India’s credentials in recent months had been seriously damaged as a secular, tolerant, democratic and pluralistic society that it showcased to the world” this was stated by Ms. Aisha Farooqui, the spokesperson of Pakistan Foreign Office while expressing her view in a webinar titled “Contemporary India: Violence and Discrimination against Religious Minorities”. The webinar was organised by India Study Centre at Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI) in collaboration with the Centre for South Asian Studies, Punjab University. Ms. Farroqui outlined three ways that clearly indicate manifestation of RSS agenda across India. First is the series of amendments in Indian constitution, second is the brazen co-opting of the Indian media to project Hindutva inspired agenda based on hate, fear and propaganda, and third is silencing any dissenting voice that raise questions on policies.
Earlier, while welcoming the guests, Director India Study Centre, Dr. Saif Malik said that Islamophobia has taken deep roots in India under the RSS-BJP government. Not only state failed to protect its own people but it has also introduced laws that are only discriminatory towards Muslims.
Speaking on the occasion, the Director General ISSI, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry expressed that the topic of this webinar is of utmost importance for peace in South Asia. He apprised the audience regarding the distorted facts projected on websites like Wikipedia, where incidents against the minorities were painted as anti-Hindu riots. He added in this milieu, it is the responsibility of institutes like ISSI to highlight facts and bring the truth before the world.
Eminent scholars including Dr. Riffat Hussain, Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmad, Dr. Umbreen Javed, and seasoned diplomats like Ambassador Shahid Kiani also spoke on the occasion and highlighted the plight of minorities, particularly Muslims in India. Dr. Umbreen Javed was of the view that the current situation has given more credence to Pakistani narrative and now Pakistan can get India on global radar for its ill treatment of Muslims especially in Kashmir. Dr. Riffat Hussain expressed his apprehensions that as long as BJP will remain in power, Muslims will have no respite. Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmad said whatever is happening in India today is the exhibition of Nazi ideology. The current situation in Kashmir is basically a cover up to change the demography of the state of Indian occupied Kashmir. Ambassador Kiani was of the view that at a time when both the countries are faced with the challenges of COVID-19 and Indian effort to demonise Muslims is not helpful at all. The common faith is a factor that Pakistan cannot be oblivious to the marginalisation of Muslims in India. The guest of honour, Dr. Saadat Gulden Ayman, who had joined the webinar live from Istanbul University, also expressed her views on the occasion. She said that the Modi government is trying to change the history and portray Muslims as enemies. Bollywood has also been influenced to depict Muslims as the real adversaries of Hindus. She also dilated that India is encouraged to pursue its anti-Muslim drive because of nexus between US-India and Israel. The discussion was followed by a vibrant interactive session.
Towards the end of webinar, Chairman, Board of Governors, ISSI, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood said that the topic of the webinar is very significant as it impacts the lives of millions of religious minorities in India. While on one hand, the RSS ideology is discriminating against its own people, on the other hand, same ideology is expressed in increased hostility towards Pakistan with extensive violations on the Line of Control. The important capitals around the world know what exactly is going on in India but they choose to remain silent because of their own interests. However, it is time to check this trend.