India has tried to maintain its high-profile diplomatic pressure on Pakistan on the issue of terrorism, with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj insisting that countries, sponsoring terror, should have no place in the comity of nations.
Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday, Swaraj strongly criticised Pakistan for nurturing and harbouring terrorists responsible for attack worldwide. She also linked the recent terror attack in Kashmir’s Uri District with the latest bombing inNew York, saying that perpetrators of these two attacks “studied” at a Pakistani madrassa (Islamic religious school). She made such a comment, as the Brussels-based ‘Crisis Group’, which focuses on the role of madrassas in promoting religious extremism in Pakistan’s Punjab Province, mentioned in its latest report (titled ‘Pakistan’s Jihadist Heartland – Southern Punjab’) that “the absence of rule of law in the province has provided the right conditions for militant networks to flourish”.
The Indian minister told the UNGA: “In our midst, there are nations that still speak the language of terrorism, that nurture it, peddle it and export it. To shelter terrorists has become their calling card. We must identify these nations and hold them to account.” She also reminded the world body of Hafiz Saeed, who is leading terrorist outfits, like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), fromPakistan.
Swaraj not only described terrorism as the “biggest violation of human rights and a crime against humanity”, but also challenged Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s claim that India abuses human rights in Kashmir. She asked “those accusing others of human rights violations would do well to introspect and see what egregious abuses they are perpetrating in their own country, including in Balochistan”. “The brutality against the Baloch people represents the worst form of state oppression,” added Swaraj.
As the Pak premier raised the ‘Kashmir’ issue at the UNGA last week to corner India, Swaraj raised the Baloch issue at the UN forum to highlight Islamabad’s role in perpetrating the “worst form of state oppression” in its province. “Pakistan persists in the belief that provocative remarks will enable it to snatch the territory it covets. My firm advice to Pakistan is: Abandon this dream,” she categorically said. This is the first time when India raised the Baloch issue at the UN only to show Prime Minister Sharif a mirror.
Swaraj further rubbished the Pak PM’s claim that New Delhi had imposed preconditions for bilateral talks. “What pre-conditions?” asked Swaraj, reminding Islamabad of several unconditional initiatives and visits by Indians leaders (including by Prime Minister Narendra Modi) to the neighbouring country. She sent a strong message to Islamabad via the UNGA, saying: “We need to forget our prejudices and join hands together to script an effective strategy against terror. This is not an impossible task provided we have the will. Otherwise, our future generations will forever hold us to account.”
The Indian minister’s sharp attack on Islamabad over terrorism and Kashmir issues prompted senior spokesperson of the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Nafees Zakaria to issue a statement in which he asked “if Kashmir is an integral part of India, why is it on the agenda of the UN Security Council?” A few hours after Swaraj delivered the speech, Zakaria stressed: “Strange that the Indian minister is disowning the UNSC resolutions and that too at the UN. Her reference to Balochistan is a violation of UN principles and international law.” He counter-attacked New Delhi by arguing that the “reference to Balochistan is a continuous admission byIndia of its involvement in subversive activities in Pakistan”. Zakaria also advised India not to interfere in Pakistan’s “internal matter”.
It is unfortunate that both India and Pakistan have failed to learn a lesson from Scotland that bullying won’t solve the Kashmir dispute.