India on Tuesday took umbrage at Pakistan raising the Kashmir issue at the United Nations and warned that a selective reinterpretation of the people's right to self-determination by some may sweep their own countries into its vortex.
"The reference to the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir in the statement made by the delegate of Pakistan earlier on Wednesday is irrelevant to the deliberations in this forum," Indian delegate Shatrughan Sinha said during a UN general assembly committee debate on self-determination.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir exercised their right of self-determination at the time of India's independence and have since then repeatedly participated in free, fair and open elections at all levels, he pointed out.
"In contrast, Pakistan continued to deny such opportunities to its own people and those in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir," Sinha said accusing Pakistan of "trying to divide the ranks of those who support the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination."
"It will not succeed in its efforts," he said reiterating New Delhi's conviction that bilateral issues should be resolved bilaterally.
"India and Pakistan are discussing a whole range of issues in the framework of the bilateral composite dialogue. We look forward to improved relations between our two countries," Sinha said.
Self-determination has long been recognised as the right of peoples of non-self governing colonies and trust territories to independence and self-government, he said.
But attempts continue to be made at the United Nations and elsewhere to reinvent some of the basic principles of the charter, such as self-determination, and to apply them selectively for narrow political ends.
No right, including the right to self-determination, may be used as an instrument to promote subversion and erode the political cohesion or territorial integrity of member states of the UN, he said asserting that it cannot be abused to encourage secessionism and undermine pluralistic, democratic states.
"Moreover, there is no room for self-determination to be distorted and misinterpreted as a right of a group, on the basis of ethnicity, religion or racial criteria, or any other such categorisation, and use it to attempt to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States," Sinha said.
Ethnic or religious segregation and chauvinism cannot be legitimised on the ground that societies need to be constituted on homogenous lines before they can be tolerant towards diversity and accept multi-culturalism. Such a view will only aid forces of narrow chauvinism and ethnic, religious and racial exclusivity, he said.
Turning to the issue of racism and racial discrimination, Sinha said India felt that implementation of the commitments made in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action with a strong resolve is of key importance to foster social harmony benefiting all.
"As we work towards a world free of the racial prejudices of the past, we must especially guard against new manifestations of racial intolerance. We continue to witness instances of destruction of constitutional order to promote policies based on racial or ethnic discrimination," he said.
The commitment of India to the elimination of racism is well recognised, Sinha said recalling the "significant, historic and memorable contribution" of its great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi to the fight against racism.
Describing Palestine as the unfinished task in the realisation of the right of peoples to self-determination, Sinha said India has maintained unwavering support and solidarity for the people of Palestine to attain their inalienable rights, including the right to self-determination.
At this juncture, it is critical for the international community, in particular the Middle East Quartet to work closely with the parties with a view to help realise the dream of the peoples of Palestine and Israel to live in peace, side by side, within recognised and secure borders, thus realising the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people.
"In this context, we would like to underline the need for the international community to exercise due vigilance in ensuring that the legitimate freedom struggle of the Palestinian people is not undermined by equating terrorist activities with the struggle of the people of Palestine," Sinha said.