Washington: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj took a dig at Pakistan and criticised it for exporting terror across the world in her address to 72nd UN General Assembly session while reiterating India's demand for a permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council. Swaraj also urged the world body to bring urgent reforms since the current United Nations and its powerful Security Council do not reflect the ground realities of the 21st century.
Addressing the world leaders in Hindi, Swaraj also spelled out concerns like climate change, maritime security, unemployment, gender empowerment, nuclear proliferation, and cybersecurity.
Reacting sharply to Pakistan prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi's allegations raised during his speech on Friday, Swaraj said, "The country which has crossed all limits of decency, murdered several innocents is teaching us lessons on humanity."
Swaraj asked its leaders to introspect as to why India is recognised as a global IT superpower while Pakistan is infamous as the "pre-eminent export factory for terror".
"I would like today to tell Pakistan's politicians just this much, that perhaps the wisest thing they could do is to look within. 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?" Swaraj asked.
Swaraj also said India has risen despite being the principal destination of Pakistan's nefarious export of terrorism.
"We produced scientists, scholars, doctors, engineers. What have you produced? You have produced terrorists...you have created terrorist camps, you have created Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen and Haqqani network," she said, adding that if Pakistan had spent on its development what it has spent on developing terror, both Pakistan and the world would be safer and better-off today.
India had described Pakistan on Friday as "terroristan" and a land of "pure terror" that hosts a flourishing industry to produce and export global terrorism.
She said the terrorist groups created by Pakistan is not only harming India but also hurting its neighbours — Afghanistan and Bangladesh — as well.
Swaraj also said that while Prime Minister Narendra Modi has offered the hand of peace and friendship since he assumed office, "Pakistan's Prime Minister must answer why his nation spurned this offer."
On old United Nation resolutions mentioned by Abbasi, Swaraj said that the Pakistani leader's memory has conveniently failed him where it matters.
"He has forgotten that under the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration India and Pakistan resolved that they would settle all outstanding issues bilaterally. The reality is that Pakistan’s politicians remember everything, manipulate memory into a convenience. They are masters at 'forgetting' facts that destroy their version," Swaraj said in a hard-hitting response to Pakistani prime minister's speech.
Describing terrorism as an "existentialist danger" to mankind, Swaraj said, wondered how the international community will fight the menace if the UN Security Council cannot agree on the listing of terrorists. "If we continue to differentiate between good terrorists and bad terrorists, how can we fight together?"
Swaraj also referred to the challenges India had faced in listing Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist stating, "If even the UNSC cannot agree on the listing of terrorists, how can we fight together?"
Swaraj was apparently referring to China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, which has repeatedly blocked India's move to put a ban on Azhar under the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the Council. The JeM has already been on the banned list.
"Evil is evil. Let us accept that terrorism is an existentialist danger to humankind. There is absolutely no justification for this barbaric violence," she said.
Swaraj called on the UN member states to display their new commitment by reaching agreement on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) this year itself. Although India proposed a CCIT as early as in 1996, yet two decades later the United Nations has not been able to agree on a definition of terrorism, she rued.
"We have been the oldest victims of this terrible and even traumatic terrorism. When we began articulating about this menace, many of the world’s big powers dismissed this as a law and order issue. Now they know better. The question is: what do we do about it?" she asked.
"We must all introspect and ask ourselves whether our talk is anywhere close to the action we take," she said. Terming talks against terrorism as mere rituals, Swaraj also criticised how self-interest of some world leaders is creating duplicity even when the world is required to "fight and destroy" terrorism.
Swaraj reminded the world body of the need to bring long-pending UN Security Council reforms.
"We are discussing turbulence and change across the world, but the one organisation created to address world affairs is beset by its own problems," Swaraj said in her address.
"Efforts at text-based negotiations on the reform and expansion of the Security Council were initiated in the last session and more than 160 nations had expressed support for this effort. If we are serious, then the least we can do is produce one text that can be the basis for negotiation," Swaraj said in her address to the UNGA.
She hoped that this "will become a priority" for the UN. "If that happens it will be a significant achievement," she said.
"I do want to remind you that at the 2005 World Summit there was a consensus that the early reform of the Security Council is an essential element of our overall effort to reform the United Nations," Swaraj added.
On climate change
Swaraj also highlighted India's commitment to the Paris Climate Accord while stating that the challenge posed by climate change requires more "serious action than talk" and asked the leaders of the developed world to help the less fortunate ones through technology transfer and Green Climate Financing.
"Nature sent its warning to the world even before the world's leadership gathered in New York at the United Nations through Harvey," she said, adding that once the gathering of world leaders at the UNGA began, an earthquake struck Mexico and a hurricane landed in Dominica.
"We must understand, this requires more serious action than talk," she said.
Countering President Donald Trump's view on Paris Accord on which he had said that the agreement on climate change was unfair to the US, as it badly hit its businesses and jobs, Swaraj said, "The developed world must listen more carefully than others because it has more capacities than others. It must help the less fortunate through technology transfer and Green Climate Financing - that is the only way to save future generations."
Swaraj said that it was not just mere coincidence that the world has witnessed hurricanes, earthquakes, rains that inundate storms which terrify.
Swaraj praises demonetisation, Modi government
The external affairs minister praised Modi stating highlight several schemes of the BJP government at the Centre such as Jan Dhan Yojana, Mudra Yojana, Skill India, Startup India, Ujjawala Yojana, Beti Padhao Beti Bachao, Swacch Bharat Abhiyan and GST among others.
Swaraj also said that demonetisation was a "courageous" decision taken by Modi to challenge the black money — one of the by-products of corruption, even though several recent reports have proven otherwise.
Swaraj, who arrived New York last Sunday, spent a major part of her day on Friday giving final touches to her speech. She had only one bilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during which she raised the issue of terrorism and H-1B.
They had also discussed strengthening of the US-India political and economic partnership.
India on Friday had ripped into Pakistan its reply statement. Enam Gambhir, India's First Secretary to the United Nations, described it as "terroristan" and a land of "pure terror" that hosts a flourishing industry to produce and export global terrorism.
Modi lauded Swaraj's speech at the UNGA, saying that "the External Affairs Minister was insightful in identifying global challenges and strongly reiterated India's commitment to create a better planet".
In another tweet, Modi said: "Incredible speech by EAM Sushma Swaraj at the UN. She has made India extremely proud at the world stage."
With inputs from PTI
Published Date: Sep 24, 2017 08:29 am | Updated Date: Sep 24, 2017 07:26 pm