India-Pakistan tensions surface at global faith meet

By Vishnu Makhijani, IANS,

Astana : Simmering India-Pakistan tensions came to the fore on the concluding day of a global faith meet here Thursday but the blip was taken in its stride.

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Intervening during the plenary on “Moral and spiritual values, world ethics” at the third Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, Anwar Hussain Siddique of Pakistan’s International Islamic University objected to Indian delegate Jyotindra Mukundrai Dave’s reference to Muslims being responsible for the attack on Gujarat’s Akshardham temple in 2002 that resulted in the deaths of over 30 people.

“I strongly object to the Indian delegate’s remarks. He has blamed Muslims for the attack without giving any proof. This is objectionable and uncalled for,” Siddique maintained.

Dave, who was a panelist at the plenary, had referred to the attack at the fag end of his presentation to reinforce India’s multi-cultural credentials.

“There was an attack on the Akshardham temple in the new Gujarat capital of Gandhinagar in 2002 in which more than 30 people were killed.

“After the attack, we held a prayer meeting at which we did not invite any politician. The attack was staged by Islamists but we did not mention this during the prayer meeting. We only prayed.

“This is what India’s multi-culturalism is all about,” Dave said.

There was no reaction from the audience when Dave made his statement or when Siddique reacted.

Dave is attending the Congress as a representative of the Swaminarayan faith that runs the Akshardham temple, one of some 450 in India.