London: India on Wednesday reiterated its support for Europe and the international community against terrorism and blasted Pakistan for clear collusion in fostering a level of radicalism and rabble-rousing.
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who is in London on the last leg of his three-nation European tour which included France and Germany, praised UK Home Secretary Priti Patel for her foresight in pre-emptively taking precautions and raising the UK’s terrorism alert level to severe in the wake of the attacks in France and Austria, as radicalism and terrorism know no “borders or limits”.
“We are full with Europe at this time of crisis. We believe the international community has to work together to address issues of radicalism and terrorism. Much of it comes from our own region,” said Shringla, in reference to cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan. “We also don’t believe that these are lone wolf attacks. There are organisations, groups and even countries that support this effort. We have seen the statement by Imran Khan, in which he says we have to teach the Western nations on how to deal with its minorities. This is rich coming from a theological state that has systematically eliminated its minorities over time,” he said.
“So, this is something that has clear collusion between countries like Pakistan, even Turkey, in fostering a level of radicalism, cynically manipulating public perception and outlook to create a sense of insecurity and basically indulge in rabble-rousing that could be to the detriment of countries like ours democratic, secular, heterogeneous societies that have every respect for the interests of minorities. And, the countries that actually persecute their minorities are those that are today trying to tell us what to do,” he added.
During an interaction with representatives of Indian and British media organisations, Shringla was also asked about the wider situation in its neighbourhood, including elections in Gilgit-Baltistan later this month and the situation in Afghanistan. He expressed India’s deep concern over the Afghan Taliban “systematically assassinating” moderate figures and leaders, backed up by “certain intelligence agencies” and condemned Pakistan’s “cynical use” of the country for its own ends.
He said, “There are un-administered zones in Afghanistan now that have the presence of, not just Al Qaeda and Daesh, but also Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba these are groups that normally operate in India but clearly they are being pushed into Afghanistan in order to say that they don’t exist in Pakistan.
“This is Pakistan’s cynical use of Afghanistan for what they call strategic depth. We don’t believe that it is anyone’s interest to lose the gains of the last 19 years; gains in terms of the Afghan Constitution, the Afghan national security and defence forces, rights of women and minorities, everything that all of us have lost blood for,” he said.
“We have invested over USD 3 billion in stabilising Afghanistan and bringing peace and development and at this point of time, we see it all going downhill. Afghanistan is a matter of great concern,” he added. The Gilgit-Baltistan election he dismissed as Pakistan’s attempt to “whitewash”, a move against which India has recorded a formal protest.