UNITED NATIONS: India’s Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj launched a vicious attack on Pakistan in her address to the 72nd UN General Assembly on Saturday, calling it “the pre-eminent export factory for terror.”
Devoting much of her speech to responding to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s address to the same forum, Ms Swaraj not only targeted Pakistan’s current rulers but also questioned the commitment of the country’s founding fathers to peace and stability.
“India and Pakistan became free within hours of each other. Why is it that today India is a recognised IT superpower in the world, and Pakistan is recognised only as the pre-eminent export factory for terror?” she asked.
On Thursday, Mr Abbasi urged United Nations to appoint a special envoy to Kashmir, noting that the struggle of the people in the region was being “brutally suppressed’ by India. He went on to accuse India of indulging in terror activities against Pakistan and warned of a “matching response” if it “ventures across the LoC (Line of Control).
Sushma Swaraj had arrived in New York on Monday to represent India at the annual UN General Assembly (UNGA) session and held a series of bilateral meetings with world leaders, as part of an Indian offensive to isolate Pakistan in major world forums.
“Pakistan’s Prime Minister claimed that his nation’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah had bequeathed a foreign policy based on peace and friendship,” she said.
“I would like to remind him that — while it remains open to question whether Jinnah Sahib actually advocated such principles — what is beyond doubt is that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has, from the moment he took his oath of office, offered the hand of peace, and friendship.”
Blaming Pakistan for failing to respond to the so-called peace overtures from India, she said: “Pakistan’s Prime Minister must answer why his nation spurned this offer.”
Ms Swaraj claimed that India was “completely engaged in fighting poverty” but its neighbour was not. “Pakistan seems only engaged in fighting us,” said the Indian minister who surpassed her previous attacks on Pakistan in her latest rhetoric against Islamabad.
“I would like today to tell Pakistan’s politicians just this much, that perhaps the wisest thing they could do is to look within,” she said.
Ms Swaraj recalled that in his address to the UNGA, Mr Abbasi accused India of committing state-sponsored terrorism, and of violating human rights in Kashmir.
“Those listening had only one observation: ‘Look who’s talking, a country that has been the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity’ became a champion of hypocrisy by preaching about humanity from this podium,” said the Indian minister, lambasting Mr Abbasi for raising these issues inside the UN. Ms Swaraj claimed that Prime Minister Abbasi had recalled old resolutions that had been tong overtaken by events. “But his memory has conveniently failed him where it matters, like he has forgotten that under the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration India and Pakistan resolved that they would settle all outstanding issues bilaterally,” she said.
“The reality is that Pakistan’s politicians remember everything, manipulate memory into a convenience. They are masters at ‘forgetting’ facts that destroy their version.” “We established scientific and technical institutions which are the pride of the world. But what has Pakistan offered to the world and indeed to its own people apart from terrorism?” she asked. “We produced scholars, doctors, engineers. What have you produced? You have produced terrorists.”
Ms Swaraj claimed that if Pakistan had spent on its development what it had allegedly “spent on developing terror, both Pakistan and the world would be safer and better-off today.”
Hundreds of Kashmiris and Sikhs protested outside the UN building in New York while Ms Swaraj addressed the General Assembly.
Speakers blamed India for systematically targeting religious and ethnic minorities and silencing them with coercion and violence.
Kashmiri speakers said that Indian security forces had killed and wounded thousands of Kashmiris in a crackdown on Kashmiri protesters, which still continues. They also chanted slogans for Kashmir’s freedom and urged the international community to help end the Indian occupation.
Kashmiri speakers reminded the United Nations that it was the longest unresolved item on the UN agenda and the world body must fulfil its obligation being giving the Kashmiris the right to self-determination.
Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2017