India on Tuesday said that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent act of glorifying al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden as a “martyr” was a “chilling reminder of the patronage that the international terrorists receive” in his country, the Hindustan Times reported. Therefore, Pakistan’s “ludicrous statement claiming credit for elimination of Al Qaeda is indeed ironic”, India added.

The comments were made at a webinar organised by the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism. Ministry of External Affairs Joint Secretary Mahaveer Singhvi, who led the Indian delegation at the meeting, accused Pakistan of sheltering and supporting terrorists, and of peddling a false narrative on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

“While the world is coming together to battle the pandemic, it is unfortunate that Pakistan, a state which sponsors cross-border terrorism, continues to use every opportunity to peddle false narratives and make baseless, malicious and egregious allegations against India and interfere in our internal affairs,” he said. “It is seeking to portray its military, financial [and] logistical support to cross-border terrorism against India as a freedom struggle. It is also peddling misinformation about India’s domestic legislation and policies.”

The Indian diplomat claimed that terrorists have made innumerable attempts to infiltrate India “from their safe abodes across the border” to carry out attacks and have even used unmanned aerial systems to smuggle weapons across our borders.

“At the global level, terrorists have tried to exploit financial and emotional distress caused by the pandemic, and used the increased presence of people online and on social media to disseminate misinformation through hate speech, fake news and doctored videos,” he added. “Another disturbing trend is the collection of funds by proscribed terror groups ostensibly for charitable activities but which would be used to finance terror.”

India claimed that Pakistan’s role as the “epicentre of terrorism” has been well documented by international organisations including the United Nations and the Financial Action Task Force.

“Khan had publicly acknowledged the presence of up to 40,000 terrorists in Pakistan and the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of the UN Security Council had reported that about 6,500 Pakistani terrorists from Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed are operating in Afghanistan,” Singhvi said. “[But] unlike Pakistan, India does not make any distinction between terrorists and invariably condemns terror attacks anywhere in the world.”

Singhvi noted that the virtual meeting was being held on a day when the Indian embassy in Kabul was attacked by a Pakistan-backed terror group 12 years ago. “It is very unfortunate that a country which perpetrated terrorist attacks in Mumbai [2008], Pathankot [2016], Uri and Pulwama is now preaching to the world community,” he added.

On June 25, Khan, while delivering a speech in the Pakistan Parliament, had said: “The Americans came to Abbottabad [in Pakistan] and killed Osama bin Laden, shaheed kar diya [martyred him]. When happened after that? The entire world cursed at us and spoke ill of us.” Khan’s remark came just a day after the United States, in its Congressional-mandated 2019 Country Reports on Terrorism, accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists.