United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said Washington and Delhi should “stand up for religious freedom”, reported PTI. He is on a two-day visit to India.
Pompeo’s comment came three days after the Ministry of External Affairs rejected an official report released by the United States that said mob attacks by “violent extremist Hindu groups” against minority communities, particularly Muslims, continued in India in 2018 amid rumours that the victims had traded or killed cows for beef. The Bharatiya Janata Party had said that the US report showed a clear bias against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
“India is the birthplace of four major world religions,” Pompeo said during his speech at the India International Centre, reported ANI. “Let’s stand up and defend religious freedom for all. Let’s speak up strongly together in favour of those rights. For whenever we do compromise those rights, the world is worse off.”
Pompeo also said the US was pleased to see that the United Nations had designated Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist. Azhar is the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. The Jaish-e-Mohammed had also claimed responsibility for the suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14. Forty Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed.
“India is more and more standing up on world stage and the US welcomes its assertiveness,” Pompeo said, in reference to India’s vote at the UN against a Palestinian NGO that supported terrorism.
Pompeo said Prime Minister Modi and US President Donald Trump were not scared to take risks, and the two countries were poised to do “incredible things together”. “Let’s see each other with new eyes and embrace the age of ambition,” he added.