At OIC Summit, without naming Pakistan, Sushma Swaraj says fight against terrorism, not any religion: 'States that harbour terrorists must be isolated'

Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj addressed the Council of Foreign Minister at the plenary session of the ongoing Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Abu Dhabi on Friday. Swaraj spoke about India's 185 million people strong Muslim community and the country's ties with West Asian nations and other Muslim countries while sending out a strong message against terrorism.

"We are living in times where the reach of terror is rising. We are seeing the senseless violence that terrorism can result in. We must act together, stand together to combat global terrorism," Swaraj said as she emphasised that "We must tell the states who provide shelter and funding to terrorists to stop providing the same to terror organisations".

Swaraj started her addressing by thanking India's "friends" at OIC for hearing it. "I stand here as a representative of a land, that has been for ages a fountain of knowledge, a beacon of peace, a source of faiths and traditions, and home to religions from the world and now, one of the major economies of the world," Swaraj said.

She said that she carries the greetings of 1.3 billion Indians, including more than 185 million Muslim brothers and sisters. "Our Muslims brothers and sisters are a microcosm of the diversity of India itself", she remarked. Swaraj then made a point as to how despite India being one of the most diverse nations in the world, people of all faiths and religions live in harmony in the country and very few Muslims in India have fallen prey to radicalisation.

 At OIC Summit, without naming Pakistan, Sushma Swaraj says fight against terrorism, not any religion: States that harbour terrorists must be isolated

Sushma Swaraj addresses the OIC in Abu Dhabi on Friday. Image courtesy: Twitter @MEAIndia

Speaking on terrorism, Swaraj said that we are living in times where the reach of terror is rising and there is senseless violence emanating from. "We must act together, stand together to combat global terrorism," she said. "The reach of terror is growing, its lethality is increasing and its toll is rising," Sushma remarked. She mentioned how terrorism was destabilising the South Asian region.  Sushma said that it was necessary that nations funding terror are isolated.

She further said that it was not possible to win against terrorism only through military action but it is task faiths, cultures, communities, youth, teachers and saints must take together. "Counter the language of hate with a message of harmony," Swaraj said.

"Terrorism and extremism bear different names and labels. It uses diverse causes. But, in each case, it is driven by distortion of religion, and a misguided belief in its power to succeed," the external affairs minister said. Sushma also emphasised that the fight was against terrorism and not against any religion. "Just as Islam literally means peace, none of the 99 names of Allah mean violence. Similarly, every religion in the world stands for peace, compassion and brotherhood," she remarked.

Sushma also recited verses from the Quran, the Guru Granth Sahib and the Rig Veda to send across a message that India has always embraced and found it easy to embrace pluralism. Quoting the Rig Veda, she said: "एकं सद्विप्रा बहुधा वदन्ति" ("God is One but learned men describe Him in many ways"). She quoted the Quran and said: "Let there be no compulsion in religion".

Talking about India's ties with the OIC members, Swaraj said: "The nations represented here bring together multi-ethnicities, culture, heritage and history… In that way, India shares a lot with you," as she shared specifics of India's relationship with countries like Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Turkey, Afghanistan, UAE, Africa, Maldives and others.

She specifically mentioned India's warm ties with UAE and said that "the Gulf region is our largest market". "As India grows, our political ties grow," Swaraj said mentioning how India has excellent political ties with the OIC nations. "In the past four years, few relationships have seen as much engagement or has been so transformed, as India's relationship with UAE and, indeed, with the entire Gulf and West Asia Region," Swaraj remarked.

"Many of us have experienced the dark days of colonialism. Many of us saw, the light of freedom and the bright ray of hope at the same time. We have stood together in solidarity, in our quest for justice and dignity," Swaraj said as she talked about India's "deep" political, cultural, diplomatic, trade and defence ties with the members. "The central shift in the global economy is moving to Asia," Swaraj remarked.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi did not participate in the meet owing to Sushma's presence amidst the escalation of India-Pakistan ties in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack. "I will not attend Council of Foreign Ministers as a matter of principle for (them) having extended invitation as a Guest of Honour to Sushma Swaraj," Qureshi told the joint session of parliament, adding that Pakistan would send envoys to represent its interests and oppose any favour to india.

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Updated Date: Mar 01, 2019 15:05:26 IST