By Arul Louis
United Nations, Aug 23 (IANS) India declined to speak at an informal session of the UN Security Council on safety of minorities in conflict when it was invited to take its turn on Thursday.
India was listed as a speaker at the informal consultation, but when Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, who was chairing the session, asked India to speak, the member of the Indian Mission who was present passed up the invitation.
According to the roster of speakers, India was to have followed Pakistan.
The Pakistani delegate defended his treatment of minorities that had been criticised by Samuel Brownback, the US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Tariq Ahmad, a British Minister of State who is Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion, and Canada’s Permanent Representative Marc Andre Blanchard, as well as a Naveed Walter, the President of Human Rights Focus Pakistan, an NGO.
Unlike China and Russia, which in their responses hit back harshly against their Western critics, Pakistan’s rebuttal was mild given that the criticism came from the US and Britain.
Surprisingly, the Pakistani delegate refrained from attacking India or bringing up Kashmir.
However, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted: “Today on the 1st International Day for Victims of Violence based on Religion or Belief, we call attention to the plight of millions of Kashmiris living under brutal Indian Occupation, abuse and violence, deprived of all fundamental rights and freedoms.”
The Council session was convened by Poland, which holds the rotating presidency for this month, on the occasion of the First International Day Commemorating Victims of Violence based on Religion or Belief, which was declared by the General Assembly.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)