India on Monday asked Pakistan to give up the dream of snatching Jammu and Kashmir, saying all it had received in response to unprecedented peace overtures were a string of terror strikes and the export of cross-border terrorism.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj delivered a stinging riposte to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the UN General Assembly, saying Pakistan should look within at “egregious abuses” in Balochistan instead of leveling baseless allegations against India.
Swaraj’s address marked the latest exchange in a war of words between the two sides, which has heated up since the terror attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri more than a week ago that killed 18 soldiers. Sharif devoted most of his speech to the Kashmir issue and demanded a UN fact-finding mission into alleged rights violations.
India, Swaraj said, had attempted a “paradigm of friendship…without precedent” to resolve outstanding issues but all it got in return was “Pathankot, Uri and Bahadur Ali, a terrorist in our custody whose confession is living proof of Pakistan’s complicity in cross-border terror”.
She added Pakistan remains in denial when confronted with such evidence. “It persists in the belief that such attacks and provocative remarks will enable it to snatch the territory it covets. My firm advice to Pakistan is: Abandon this dream. Let me state unequivocally that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always remain so,” she said.
Referring to Sharif’s address on September 21, Swaraj said: “Those living in glass houses should not throw stones.”
Swaraj, who spoke in Hindi, added that “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.”
In a tacit reference to Pakistan’s policy of acting against “bad” terrorists while turning a blind eye to “good” terrorists, Swaraj said there should be no distinction between terrorists and the world community should “join hands to script an effective strategy” against the menace.
“If any nation refuses to join this global strategy we must isolate it. 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 said.
Without naming Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed, designated a terrorist by the UN Security Council and the US, Swaraj said: “These nations, in which UN-designated terrorists roam freely, lead processions and deliver their poisonous sermons of hate with impunity, are as culpable as the very terrorists they harbour. Such countries should have no place in the comity of nations.”
Swaraj also rejected Sharif’s contention that India had set pre-conditions for talks. “Did we impose any pre-condition before extending an invitation for the oath-taking ceremony of our government? Did we impose any pre-condition when I went to Islamabad for the Heart of Asia conference and agreed to begin the comprehensive bilateral dialogue? Did we impose any pre-condition when Prime Minister Modi travelled from Kabul to Lahore?”
She said the world community is yet to reach a conclusion on a comprehensive convention on international terrorism proposed by India in 1996. This has prevented nations from agreeing on “norms to punish and extradite terrorists” and there is need to act with “fresh urgency to adopt this convention”.
Swaraj also brought up the reform of the UN Security Council so that it does not remain an outdated body that “reflects the world order of an older era” and comes to terms with present day realities.
In a speech seeking to marry New Delhi’s national interest with global objectives to buttress its stature as an emerging global power, Swaraj stressed India’s commitment to climate change and announced it will submit its instrument of ratification of the Paris Agreement on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who, she added, “epitomised a lifestyle with the smallest carbon footprint”.
She also emphasised India’s commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which she said, were “matched by the development vision of my government, which is geared towards the achievement of these same objectives”. Several schemes of the Indian government dovetailed with the SDGs, such as the Swachh Bharat, Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, Make in India and Digital India campaigns.
While India will play a leading role in combating climate change through measures such an international solar alliance, it expects developed nations to hold up their end of the bargain by providing finance and technology transfers.