New Delhi: Exercising her right to reply after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj lashed out at Pakistan for supporting terrorism, Pakistani envoy to the UN Maleeha Lodhi attacked India for “killing hundreds of women, children and men in Kashmir”.
In her address to the 72nd UN General Assembly session on Saturday, Swaraj had accused Pakistan of waging a war against India and said a country that has been the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity became a champion of hypocrisy by preaching about humanity from this podium.
She was referring to Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s speech on Thursday wherein he accused India of state-sponsored terrorism and violating human rights.
Exercising Pakistan’s right to reply, Lodhi held up a photo of a battered girl to show an example of “Indian brutality” and slammed Swaraj for having “deliberately ignored the core issue” of Kashmir in her “vitriol”.
However, this photo was actually clicked by Jerusalem-based American photographer Heidi Levine at a hospital in Gaza City, Palestine. The 17-year-old Rawya abu Jom’a was wounded when two Israeli air strikes hit her family’s apartment in 2014.
Lodhi, while blasting India for “appointing a fanatic” as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, also misquoted Arundhati Roy, “As one of India’s most famous contemporary authors recently said and I quote ‘These horrific murders are only a symptom. Life is hell for the living too. Whole populations of Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and Christians are being forced to live in terror, unsure of when and from where the next assault would come’.”
There is a small but subtle difference in what Lodhi said and what Roy wrote in the Indian Express in 2015 after returning the national award she won for best screenplay in 1989.
What Roy had actually written: “These horrific murders are only a symptom of a deeper malaise. Life is hell for the living too. Whole populations — millions of Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and Christians — are being forced to live in terror, unsure of when and from where the assault will come.”
By omitting ‘millions of’, Lodhi took Roy’s arguments to another level of rhetoric and also provided fodder for those politicians and right-wing commentators in India who wish to tie her in front of an army jeep in Kashmir.
No need to surprise about Pakistan Quotes Arundhati Roy. Its expected. In-fact last year, Pakistan Assembly suggested to invite her over J&K
— Anshul Saxena (@AskAnshul) September 24, 2017
In response to Sushma ji’s slap, Pak quotes Arundhati Roy words “India not safe for minorities”. Great service to her nation by Arundhati💚
— गीतिका (@ggiittiikkaa) September 24, 2017
We must learn from Pak. Arundhati Roy would have been tried for blasphemy & hanged in Pak But Liberal Indians promote her as Messiah of FoE
— Jagrati Shukla (@JagratiShukla29) September 24, 2017
“All governments and their spokespersons are opportunistic. That cannot become a reason for writers and journalists not to write what they have to write,” Roy told Outlook on Sunday.
It is common for the right-wing in both India and Pakistan to accuse domestic critics of human rights violations of providing political ammunition to the other side. Like Roy and others in India, the journalist-diplomat Hussain Haqqani has been accused of undermining Pakistani national interests by his views on Balochistan.