The Pakistani government, long accused by New Delhi of harboring jihadist groups, has returned the favor, accusing India of being a state sponsor of terrorism for allowing Hindu extremists to infiltrate its government.
Nafees Zakaria, a spokesperson for Pakistan’s Foreign Office, argued Friday that Hindu extremists, accused of persecuting Christians and Muslims and forcing them to convert to Hinduism, have found their way into India’s government, reports Dawn.
“The extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and other such organizations are already influencing the Indian judiciary’s decisions at this time while the Indian army is lending its support to the RSS as well,” Zakaria told reporters Friday. “There are unresolved issues on a wide range of matters that India has with various countries, which is why it cannot be expected to maintain peace in the region.”
RSS is an Indian right-wing Hindu nationalist group, considered the parent organization of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling party of India.
News reports have also associated Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP to Hindu Parishad (VHP), another right-wing, Hindu nationalist party that has reportedly mistreated the country’s Christian and Muslim minority.
Pakistan and India have long accused one another of supporting terrorism, particularly in the disputed Muslim-majority region of Kashmir, claimed by the two nuclear-armed rivals and China.
New Delhi asserts that Pakistan is backing Islamic terrorists in Kashmir who are fighting for independence from India or in favor of a merger with Pakistan, a charge that Islamabad denies.
Meanwhile, Islamabad accuses India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party of cracking down on Muslim dissidents in the territory India holds in Kashmir, a claim that New Delhi denies.
Kabul and Washington have also contended that Pakistan is serving as a sanctuary for terrorists fighting and killing U.S.-led coalition troops in Afghanistan.
In announcing his strategy for ending the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan on Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump warned Pakistan that it “has much to lose by harboring criminals and terrorists.”
Meanwhile, Trump praised India for assisting Afghanistan and urging New Delhi to do more and escalate its operations inside the chaos-ridden country.
Consistent with remarks from Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif and other Pakistani officials, Zakaria denounced the U.S. president for admonishing Islamabad over its support for Islamic terrorists.
“No other country in the world has made the kind of sacrifices that Pakistan has had to make in the fight against terrorism,” declared Zakaria, echoing China’s defense of its ally Islamabad issued after Trump’s speech.
The Pentagon has long warned against Pakistan’s support for terrorist organizations, namely the Taliban and its ally the Haqqani Network, considered a top threat against American troops in Afghanistan.
U.S. Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation to officially designate Pakistan a state-sponsor of terrorism for its support of jihadist groups fighting and killing Americans in neighboring Afghanistan.