India on Wednesday criticised Pakistan for raising the Kashmir matter at a virtual meeting of the foreign ministers of the Commonwealth of Nations, saying that Pakistan is a “globally-acknowledged promoter of state-sponsored terrorism”, which pretends to be a victim, the Hindustan Times reported.

Ministry of External Affairs (West) Secretary Vikas Swarup, who substituted for external affairs minister S Jaishankar at the meeting, said it was unfortunate that the Commonwealth meeting was “misused by one of our South Asian member states to pursue its own bigoted, ill-conceived, narrow and unilateral agenda on a multilateral platform”. Without naming Pakistan, he said: “When we heard them rant about a South Asian state, we were left wondering why it was describing itself? And not surprisingly it came from a globally acknowledged promoter of state-sponsored terrorism masquerading as an alleged victim of the same.”

Swarup accused Pakistan of committing genocide in South Asia (Bangladesh) 39 years ago (before and during the 1971 India-Pakistan War). He said Pakistan has become known as the epicentre of terrorism and is hosting the largest number of terrorists proscribed by the United Nations.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had, without naming India, claimed that a “state in South Asia” had been targeting its religious minority groups to foment division and hatred. “It has transgressed rights and freedoms of millions and fanned hyper nationalism to engineer illegal demographic change in a disputed territory and sowed racial tensions,” he said, referring to the abrogation of the special status of India-controlled Jammu and Kashmir and its bifurcation into two Union Territories.

Rejecting Pakistan’s allegations against India over Kashmir, the secretary said the only dispute remaining in the region is Islamabad’s own illegal occupation of some of its parts, referring to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Swarup claimed that sooner or later, Pakistan will have to vacate this region.

“For such a country to hypocritically preach about religious minority groups elsewhere, while trampling upon the rights of its own indigenous minorities, was indeed most regrettable, and a blatant misuse of this august platform,” Swarup said.

Swarup added that India has opened a “Commonwealth Sub Window” of $50 million (Rs 366 crore) to provide grants to member states for projects related to implementation of sustainable development goals and climate change. India has also increased its support to the Commonwealth Small States Offices Program in New York, from $100,000 (Rs 73 lakh) to $250,000 (Rs 183 lakh), and Geneva, from $80,000 (Rs 58 lakh) to $150,000 (Rs 109 lakh), the Indian official added.

In September, at the United Nations General Assembly, India had accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists as well as changing the demography of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir through persecution of minorities, enforced disappearances and influx of outsiders. India alleged that Pakistan has allowed delisting of 4,000 terrorists “to sustain its terror ecosystem”.

The Indian delegation also said that Pakistan continues to persecute its minorities. “Various international organisations have termed Pakistan as the killing field for minorities,” Pawan Kumar Badhe, India’s first secretary to the UN, said. “The Ahmadis remains the most persecuted community in Pakistan under the aegis of the so-called Constitution of Pakistan. Hundreds of Christians are persecuted every year while maximum of them are subjected to violent deaths in Pakistan.” India said “beheading is the only option in Pakistan in exchange for freedom of religion”.