Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on 27 September for the first time since 2014, on the same day that Pakistan premier Imran Khan is slated to deliver an address at the UNGA’s New York headquarters. Modi is likely to raise issues concerning Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan’s statements and actions in the wake of abrogation of Article 370.
Sushma Swaraj, the former external affairs minister and late BJP leader, previously addressed the UNGA in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Since Modi came to power as prime minister in 2014, India and Pakistan have struck a discordant note at the UNGA.
In 2014, Modi insisted on advancing “friendship and cooperation with neighbours” even as the then Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif hit out at the “violence and abuse of fundamental rights” in Kashmir.
The next year in March, a fiery Sushma delivered a clear message to Pakistan: “Talks and terror cannot go together”. Following three attacks on police and Indian Army in Jammu and Kashmir, Sushma snubbed Sharif’s proposition for a “four-point peace” and pressed the need for the end of terror.
“Let me use this occasion to spell out our approach clearly. India remains open to dialogue. But talks and terror cannot go together. Yesterday the prime minister of Pakistan proposed what he termed as a four-point new peace initiative. I would like to respond. We do not need four points, we need just one — give up terrorism and let us sit down and talk,” Sushma said.
She added that the attacks were meant to “destabilise India and legitimise Pakistan’s illegal occupation of parts of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and its claim on the rest of it”.
In 2016, India went even further after the attacks on the Pathankot Air Force Station and Uri Army camp claimed over 20 lives. “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,” Sushma said, indirectly urging Pakistan to introspect amid the over 100 deaths reported due to attacks on a police college and hospital in Balochistan, sharply criticising Sharif after he condoled the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
“Burhan Wani, the young leader murdered by Indian forces, has emerged as the symbol of the latest Kashmiri Intifada, a popular and peaceful freedom movement, led by Kashmiris, young and old, men and women, armed only with an undying faith in the legitimacy of their cause, and a hunger for freedom in their hearts,” Sharif said.
That year, Eenam Gambhir, India's first secretary in Permanent Mission of India to UN, called Pakistan “terroristan”, calling it the “Ivy league of terrorism”. "The land of Taxila, one of the greatest learning centres of ancient times, is now host to the Ivy League of terrorism. It attracts aspirants and apprentices from all over the world. The effect of its toxic curriculum are felt across the globe," Eenam said, responding to then then prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s allegations of human rights violation in Kashmir. She said that Pakistan had “become a geography synonymous with terror”.
— Indian Diplomacy (@IndianDiplomacy) September 22, 2016
In 2017, when the issue of former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav’s arrest and death sentence gathered steam and was taken before the International Court of Justice, Sushma delivered one of her most scathing speeches, calling Pakistan the “factory of terror”.
After Abbasi demanded an international investigation into Kashmir, the former external affairs minister said, “India and Pakistan became free within hours of each other. But why is it that we gave birth to IITs, IIMs, AIIMs and other institutes. Whereas, you produced Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Haqqani Network and other terrorists? We produced scholars, doctors, engineers. You have produced terrorists.”
During the same UNGA session, Pakistan’s representative to UN Maleeha Lodhi displayed a picture of an injured girl in Gaza, alleging that the picture was of a victim of pellet gun injuries in Kashmir.
In a terse reply, Secretary to India’s permanent mission to the UN Paulomi Tripathi held up two photographs – one showing the army officer and the other of Palestinian woman whom Lodhi had described as a Kashmiri. The army officer shown in the picture was Lieutenant Umar Faiyaz who was abducted and killed by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district.
“The Permanent Representative of Pakistan misled this Assembly by displaying this picture to spread falsehoods about India. A fake picture to push a completely false narrative,” she said.
Exercising India’s right to reply, Eenam said, “It is extraordinary that the state which protected Osama Bin Laden and sheltered Mullah Omar should have the gumption to play the victim. By now, all Pakistan’s neighbours are painfully familiar with these tactics to create a narrative based on distortions, deception and deceit. This august Assembly and the world beyond know that efforts at creating alternative facts do not change reality.” Sushma said that Pakistan had betrayed its “friend and ally” by harbouring Osama Bin Laden even when he was it was declared America’s most dangerous enemy.
Apart from talking about the alleged human rights violations in Kashmir, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also said that Jadhav provided incriminating evidence that proved that India had a hand in the Peshawar school attack and Samjhauta Express attack in 2018. “Who can be a greater transgressor of human rights than a terrorist? Those who take innocent human lives in pursuit of war by other means are defenders of inhuman behaviour, not of human rights. Pakistan glorifies killers," Sushma responded.
Eenam said it was the “most outrageous and preposterous allegation.” "Can Pakistan deny that it's the host and patron of 132 of the UN designated terrorists, 22 terrorist entities sanctioned under the 1267 and 1988 UN Security Council Sanctions Regime as of today? Will Pakistan deny that UN designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed enjoys a free run inside Pakistan, spews venom and sets up candidates for electoral offices?" she asked.
Slamming Qureshi's statement that India cancelled talks the between the foreign ministers of the two countries on "flimsy grounds", Eenam said, "The new foreign minister chose to term the gruesome killing our security personnel by Pakistani sponsored terrorists as flimsy grounds. While it may not be the case for Pakistan but for India every loss of life counts. India believes talks and terror can't go together."
Sushma also responded to Qureshi’s comment about cancellation of proposed talks between India and Pakistan. “We believe that even the most complex issues can be resolved through talks. That is why we began talks with Pakistan many times. But on all those occasions, talks stopped because of negative action by Pakistan," she said.
In the upcoming UNGA meeting, Imran is expected to bring up the Kashmir issue, regarding which he has made repeated appeals to leaders from various countries. Modi’s response is expected to address what Sushma described as Pakistan’s habit to “throw the dust of deceit and deception against India in order to provide some thin cover for its own guilt”.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Sep 10, 2019 20:45:03 IST