Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj launched a frontal attack on Pakistan and the country’s backing of terrorism in her address at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Saturday.
“World’s dreaded terrorists are called freedom fighters in Pakistan. Their nefarious acts are called heroism and they are hailed as heroes in the country,” Swaraj said in a sharp message that exposed India’s neighbour as a principal sponsor of terrorism in the region and a threat for the world.
Swaraj also slammed Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent statement in which he accused India of “sabotaging” chances of dialogue.
“This is a complete lie. We believe that talks are only rational means to resolve the most complex of disputes. Talks with Pakistan have begun many times. If they stopped, it was only because of their behaviour,” said Swaraj.
India had called off talks between Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of UNGA following the killing and mutilation of a BSF jawan along the international border, killings of policemen in Jammu-Kashmir and a series of provocations including release of stamps in Pakistan praising Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani.
Accusing Islamabad of not only sponsoring terrorism but also masking its malevolent intentions, the EAM said that India’s problem of terrorism originates “across the border” and “not in some faraway land”.
“Our neighbour’s expertise is not restricted to spawning grounds for terrorism; it is also an expert in trying to mask malevolence with verbal duplicity,” she said highlighting the reaction of the Pakistani government after Osama bin Laden was found hiding in the country.
Praising the United States government and its military for the operation in which they took out the Al Qaeda chief responsible for 9/11 terrorist attack, Swaraj unmasked Pakistan by telling the UNGA how America’s biggest enemy was enjoying refuge with someone the US called “a friend”.
“The mastermind of 9/11 was killed but the mastermind of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack is still roaming free,” Swaraj said referring to Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed.
“Saeed is holding rallies, elections, and threatening India openly in Pakistan,” added the EAM.
“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; it refuses to see the blood of innocents,” said Swaraj.
Recalling the fake images shown by Pakistan at the UN in 2017 to accuse India of human rights violations, Swaraj said that false accusations have become part of Islamabad’s standard rhetoric.
“Last year, Pakistan’s representative, using right to reply, displayed some photographs as “proof” of ‘human rights violations’ by India. The photographs turned out to be from another country. Similar false accusations have become part of its standard rhetoric,” she said.
At the same time, Swaraj criticised the UNGA for failing to agree on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) proposed by India in 1996 which intends to identify and criminalise all forms of terrorism and cripple their backers.
“Till today, that CCIT draft has remained a draft because we cannot agree on a common language. On the one hand, we want to fight terrorism; on the other, we cannot define it,” said Swaraj.
The EAM, who addressed the gathering in Hindi, praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for unleashing an “unprecedented economic and social transformation” that will enable India achieve its social development goals ahead of schedule.
“At the heart of Prime Minister Modi’s transformative vision is a radical idea: that the uplift of any nation is best achieved through the all-round empowerment of women. All the schemes that I have just spoken about have welfare of women at their core,” she said.
Commenting on threat from climate change, Swaraj called on developed nations to help deprived nations with financial and technical resources.
She also congratulated Maria Fernanda Espinosa on assuming the position as the President of the 73rd Session of the UNGA and said that the first woman to occupy this eminent chair was Vijayalakshmi Pandit in 1953.
Swaraj also called for urgent reform in the United Nations warning that a delay in changing the institution’s “head and heart to make both compatible to contemporary reality” could prove to be too late.