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India asks Pak to ensure safety of minorities after attack on temple, Islamabad responds sharply

Pakistan rejected Indian External Affairs Ministry’s remarks regarding vandalism at a Hindu temple in Karachi, as Delhi asked Islamabad to ensure the safety and security of the minorities in the country. The exchange comes barely days after Pakistan had issued a statement—after summoning the Indian envoy there—against some derogatory comments made by two BJP leaders against Prophet Mohammad.

MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, responding to a question in Delhi had said Thursday evening, “We have noted the recent incident of vandalization of a Hindu temple in Karachi. We believe this is another act in the systemic persecution of religious minorities. We have conveyed our protest to the Government of Pakistan. Again urge it to ensure the safety, security and well being of the minority communities.”

A temple in Karachi and the priest’s house were attacked on Wednesday night by a mob.

Responding to Bagchi’s comments, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that it “rejects the remarks” regarding the “unfortunate incident that took place at a Hindu temple in Karachi.”

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“Unlike the violence against the Muslim community that is orchestrated by religious fanatics who enjoy full patronage of India’s state machinery, the Government of Pakistan is seized of this matter and action is being taken against the perpetrators,” it said, adding that an FIR has been registered “against the assailants and efforts are underway to identify and arrest them.” It noted that they will “will not escape justice” and the government will “deal with them with the full force of law.”

It said that the Indian Government would be “well advised to introspect and ensure the protection of the fundamental rights, lives, and places of worship of minorities across India, particularly Muslims who are facing brutal attacks from the proponents of ‘Hindutva’ holding on to the reins of power in the country.”

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Referring to the controversy related to the comments by the BJP leaders, who are and suspended, Islamabad said that “unequivocal condemnation by the BJP top leadership and the Indian government, as well as decisive and demonstrable action against the BJP officials responsible for making sacrilegious remarks recently would be the first step towards healing the suffering of Muslims in India and the sentiments of Muslims worldwide.”

Pakistan was one of the over dozen Islamic countries that issued a statement against the BJP leaders’ comments. Responding to Pakistan’s statement on Monday Bagchi had called it absurd that a “serial violator of minority rights commenting on the treatment of minorities in another nation is not lost on anyone. The world has been witness to the systemic persecution of minorities including Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Ahmadiyyas by Pakistan.”

Bagchi had stated that the Indian government “accords to the highest respect to all religions,” which is “quite unlike Pakistan where fanatics are eulogized and monuments built in their honor.”

He had also asked Pakistan to “focus on the safety, security and well-being of its minority communities instead of engaging in alarmist propaganda and attempting to foment communal disharmony in India,” in his statement Monday.

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