Pakistan’s ‘despicable insinuation’ about Peshawar school attack draws India’s fury at UN
Indian diplomat Eenam Gambhir exercised India’s Right of Reply and rejected allegations made by Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi during his UN General Assembly address on Saturday night.Updated: Sep 30, 2018 22:46 IST
India has said that a supposedly “new Pakistan” on display at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is “cast in the mould of the old” and dismissed as “despicable” and “preposterous” Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s insinuation on Saturday linking India to the 2014 terrorist attack on a school at Peshawar in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Qureshi, who spoke at UNGA after external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, accused India of sponsoring “terrorism and aggression against all its neighbours” and stalling peace efforts citing “flimsy” reasons. He also blamed India for fomenting terrorism in Pakistan and in the region, rendering South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation ineffective and violating human rights in Kashmir.
India exercised its right of reply to hit back. “This morning my delegation came to this august Assembly to listen attentively to the new foreign minister of Pakistan outline the vision of a ‘New Pakistan’,” said Eanam Gambhir, a counsellor at India’s permanent UN mission. “What we heard is a ‘New Pakistan’ cast in the mould of the old.”
Gambhir pointed out several “baseless” charges in Qureshi’s speech. And one of them was the “preposterous allegation” regarding the Peshawar attack. She added there was “outpouring of sorrow and pain in India” over the massacre. Both Houses of Parliament had condemned it and schools across India had observed silence in memory of the victims.
“The despicable insinuation made by the Foreign Minister of Pakistan dishonours the memory of the innocent lives lost to terrorists on that day,” she said.
This is the first UN general assembly since a new regime took over in Pakistan in August with former cricketer Imran Khan as prime minister.
In the assembly in 2017, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi, presented pictures of a woman she claimed was wounded by Indian security forces in Kashmir. The woman in the picture was actually wounded in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza strip in 2014.
During his speech, Qureshi said: “Pakistan shall never forget the mass murder of more than 150 children in a Peshawar School, the terrible (July 2018) Mastung attack (in Pakistan’s Baluchistan) and many others that have links with terrorists supported by India,”
He also cited the arrest of former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is on death row in Pakistan. Pakistan claims Jadhav has been involved in spying and terrorism in the country at India’s behest. India has appealed his arrest and sentence in the International Court of Justice.
Earlier, Qureshi claimed that Pakistan has turned the tide on terrorism even as the Financial Action Task Force, an international watchdog, put his country on its short list of countries being monitored for terror financing last June.
“Can Pakistan deny the fact that it is the host and patron of 132 of the UN-designated terrorists and 22 terrorist entities under the 1,267 and the 1988 UN Security Council sanctions regime as of today?” asked Gambhir.
“Will Pakistan deny that UN-designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed enjoys a free run inside Pakistan and spews venom and sets up candidates for electoral office?” she added, referring to the Lashkar-e-Toiba founder, who carries a US $10 million bounty on his head.
Gambhir questioned Pakistan’s efforts to champion human rights. She was responding to Qureshi’s demand for an inquiry into allegations of rights in Kashmir based on a UN human rights report.
“We have also today heard support by Pakistan for a report no member state had asked for; none supported, and on which no action was taken,” Gambhir said.
She attacked Qureshi for calling “flimsy” one of India’s reasons – the death of three policemen in Kashmir – for calling off a meeting of the foreign ministers of the two countries on the sidelines of the UN general assembly.
“While it may not be the case for Pakistan, for India every loss of life counts,” Gambhir said. “Hence our belief that talks and terror cannot go together.”
Pakistan, too, hit back in its first right of reply statement and alleged that the breeding ground of terrorism in the region is “the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) centres of fascism”.
About Swaraj’s attacks on Pakistan over terrorism, a Pakistani official said that listening to the speech one would “indeed marvel at the credentials of the pontiff for who would be more qualified to talk of terrorism than those who practice it as an instrument of state policy”.
Swaraj launched a frontal attack on Pakistan on Saturday, calling it “an expert in trying to mask malevolence with verbal duplicity,” accusing it of funding and glorifying terrorists and warning of a “conflagration” if terrorism was not rooted out.
Swaraj blamed Pakistan’s continued support to terror for stalled peace efforts between the subcontinental neighbours, and defended India’s record on human rights, saying there was no bigger transgressor of rights than terrorists. Pakistan “glorifies killers” and “refuses to see the blood of innocents,” she said.
First Published: Sep 30, 2018 08:41 IST