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India lampoons Pakistan at Commonwealth foreign ministers' meet for raising Kashmir issue

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New Delhi, Oct 14: India on Wednesday lampooned Pakistan at a virtual meeting of the Commonwealth foreign ministers, calling it a promoter of state sponsored terrorism "masquerading" as an alleged victim of the menace.

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Without directly naming Pakistan, India also referred to the neighbouring country''s dubious distinction of becoming synonymous with the phrase "epicentre of terrorism" and hosting the largest number of terrorists proscribed by the United Nations.

The sharp reaction by Secretary (West) in Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup came in the meeting after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi alleged that a state in South Asia is fanning hyper nationalism to "engineer" illegal demographic change in a disputed territory, in a reference to Kashmir.

Swarup was representing External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar at the Commonwealth foreign ministers'' meeting.

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"When we heard them rant about a south Asian state, we were left wondering why it was describing itself? And not surprisingly it came from a globally acknowledged promoter of state sponsored terrorism masquerading as an alleged victim of the same," Swarup said.

"We heard it from a country that brought genocide to South Asia 49 years back when it killed its own people," he said.

Swarup also said it is the same country that has the dubious distinction of becoming synonymous with the phrase ''epicenter of terrorism'' and hosting the largest number of terrorists proscribed by the UN.

"The only dispute left in what it alleged today as a ''disputed territory'' is its own illegal occupation of certain parts, which sooner or later, it would have to vacate," he said.

Swarup also hit out at Pakistan for denying the rights of indigenous minorities. "For such a country to hypocritically preach about religious minority groups elsewhere, while trampling itself upon the rights of its own indigenous minorities, was indeed most regrettable, and a blatant misuse of this august platform," Swarup said.

In his address, Qureshi said while the world remained preoccupied with the coronavirus pandemic, a state in South Asia is targeting its religious minorities in order to foment division and hatred amongst community groups.

"It has transgressed the rights and freedoms of millions and fanned hyper nationalism to engineer illegal demographic change in a disputed territory and sowed racial tensions. We ignore its transgressions only at our own peril," he said.

In his remarks, Swarup said it was unfortunate that the meeting was misused by one of the South Asian member states to pursue its "own bigoted, ill-conceived, narrow and unilateral agenda on a multilateral platform."

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    He also talked about India''s assistance to various countries to deal with COVID-19, and said as the world grapples with the economic and social fallout of the pandemic, the values and core principles of the Commonwealth become more relevant than ever.

    "India has already demonstrated that it can be a reliable partner for the world. Despite being severely impacted, we have kept our supply chains open during this pandemic and supplied medicines and equipment to more than 150 countries," Swarup said.

    "This has only added to India's reputation as the pharmacy to the world. As we move towards development of a COVID-19 vaccine, India (which accounts for 60 per cent of global vaccine production) has already committed its vaccine production and delivery capacity to help the world in fighting this crisis," he said.

    Swarup also congratulated all members of the grouping for adopting a statement on racism.

    "Finally, as we adopt the Commonwealth Statement on Racism today, I would like to congratulate all members for this effort to combat racism and racial discrimination," he said.

    It is also important to take robust and comprehensive steps to implement a zero tolerance policy against racism and ensure stricter actions against the perpetrators, he added.

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