Flustered over External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s speech at the UN General Assembly, in which she ripped through Pakistan for its role in promoting terrorism, Islamabad resorted to every possible unusual way to respond to New Delhi’s stinging denunciation.
Exercising her right to reply, Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN, termed India as the “mother of terrorism” in South Asia. Lodhi further alleged that "in her vitriol she (Swaraj) deliberately ignored the core issue" of Kashmir.
In her attempt to defame India at the international forum, Maleeha tried to pass off picture of a Palestinian girl as of a pellet gun victim from Kashmir.
She was, however, caught in an embarrassing gaffe when it was found that the photo of the girl whom she had termed the ‘face of Indian atrocities’ turned out to be a victim of the air strikes in Gaza.
The picture was discovered to be of 17-year-old Rawya abu Jom'a, a Palestinian woman who was injured in air strikes in Gaza. Her picture was taken by award-winning American photographer Heidi Levine and was published on the website of British daily newspaper The Guardian.
Accusing India of carrying out a “campaign of brutality… including shooting and blinding of innocent Kashmiri children with pellet guns”, Loshi demanded an international investigation into the alleged brutalities in Kashmir.
Lodhi then, without naming anyone, went on to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government, invoking the Gujarat 2002 riots. “Current political luminaries (in India) belong to an organisation that has the blood of thousands of Muslims of Gujarat on their hands,” she said.
Terming Indian democracy as the “world’s largest hypocrisy”, Lodhi further alleged that the Indian government is one “in which a racist and fascist ideology is embedded”.
Also Read: Swaraj at UNGA: While India made institutes like IITs, IIMs, AIIMS, Pak created terror factories
The current Indian government has "allowed" lynching of Muslims, Lodhi claimed as she invoked Booker-winning author Arundhati Roy to attack Swaraj's UN General Assembly speech.
Lodhi repeated the secularist line in India that “a racist and fascist ideology is firmly embedded in Modi’s government and that its leadership is drawn from the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] which is accused of assassinating Mahatma Gandhi.”
She also slammed Yogi Adityanath’s election to head Uttar Pradesh, saying “the government has appointed a fanatic as the Chief Minister of India’s largest State.”
Lodhi quoted from Roy's November 2015 statement: "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 assault would come."
Lodhi also took particular objection to Ms. Swaraj’s observation about Pakistan’s founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who, Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had said, bequeathed a foreign policy based on peace and friendship.
Ms. Swaraj said it “remains open to question whether Jinnah Sahab actually advocated such principles.”
In her address the same day, Swaraj had termed Pakistan as the "world's greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity" and accused Islamabad of being "only engaged in fighting us (India)" and rejecting peace and dialogue.
Her address at the UN General Assembly will be most remembered for the quote: “India made IITs, IIMs, Pakistan made Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizbul Mujahideen”.