At the United Nations in 2017, Pakistan’s envoy Maleeha Lodhi passed off a picture of an injured Palestinian girl as a victim of pellet guns used by India to discourage stone pelters in Kashmir.
Pakistan’s government, led by Imran Khan, seems to have taken a cue from her. Khan’s ‘new Pakistan’, which the Indian delegation at the UN said was “cast in the mold of old”, recently issued nearly 20 propaganda stamps issued in a volume of over 20,000 sheets that depict the “atrocities in Indian-occupied Kashmir”. Some of these stamps glorify Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani.
However, like its UN envoy, Pakstan has goofed up. It has used pictures of Kashmiri Pandit and Sikh, who are actually victims of Pakistan-sponsored terror, in one of the stamps to show victims of “Indian atrocities in Kashmir”.
The picture used by the government of Pakistan belong to an organisation called Roots in Kashmir (RiK). They show members of the Pandit community protesting against violence and ethnic cleansing. Lakhs of people belonging to the community were driven out of their homes, killed and forced to flee the Valley by elements sympathetic to Pakistan in the late 1980s.
The organisation has called it “a malicious attempt to raise the bogey of Kashmir” by “appropriating the exodus and exile of Pandits”. RiK also called it “a spiteful attempt at not just deflecting blame but also to deny the victims of ethnic cleansing a right to protest by appropriating their symbols of protest”.
It has requested the United Nations “to not only intervene to safeguard their existence but also write formally to the government of Pakistan to withdraw the stamps and ask them to issue an apology to the entire Kashmiri Pandit community for the crimes against them and also for the false representation they have tried to make by using the protest picture of Roots in Kashmir”.
The proposal to issue these stamps, one of which says “Kashmir will become Pakistan”, was cleared by Pakistan’s Ministry of Communications, then the country’s Foreign Ministry and followed by Khan’s office.
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