External Affairs

Balochistan Adds Spice to Indian Refrain on Pakistan and Terror at the UN

‘We have attempted a paradigm of friendship in the last two years which is without precedent and what did we get in return? Pathankot, Bahadur Ali, and Uri,’ said India’s external affairs minister about Pakistan.

Sushma Swaraj, minister of external affairs, addressing the UN General Assembly on September 26, 2016. Credit: UN Photo/Cia Pak General Assembly Seventy First Session: 23rd plenary meeting

Sushma Swaraj, minister of external affairs, addressing the UN General Assembly on September 26, 2016. Credit: UN Photo/Cia Pak
General Assembly Seventy First Session: 23rd plenary meeting

New Delhi: In a first for a country which has traditionally insisted on keeping the internal situation of a sovereign state off the agenda of the United Nations, India on Monday raised the issue of Pakistan’s violation of human rights in Balochistan before the General Assembly with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj describing the “brutality” in the Pakistani province as the “worst form of state oppression”.

She also gave a call for identifying and isolating countries “who still speak the language of terrorism, that nurture it, peddle it, and export it”.

Speaking in Hindi, Swaraj lashed out against Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, who had attacked India from the same platform five days earlier for its policies in Kashmir.

“On 21st September, the prime minister of Pakistan used this podium to make baseless allegations about human rights violations in my country. I can only say that those living i glass houses should not throw stones. Before accusing others of human rights violations, they would do well to introspect and see what egregious abuses they are perpetrating in their own country, including in Balochistan. The brutality against the Baloch people represents the worst form of state oppression,” Swaraj said.

In August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought up Balochistan during the all-party meeting on Kashmir and then again, in a more public way, in his independence day speech but Swaraj is the first to mention the issue at the UNGA. Earlier this month, India had also raised Balochistan at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Though India had utilised a formal right to reply on September 21 itself, describing Pakistan as being “host to the Ivy League of terrorism”, Swaraj used more than half of her 20-minute speech to attack Pakistan over its support for terrorism.

She mentioned the militant attacks on Indian bases at Uri in Kashmir and Pathankot in Punjab and linked them to recent global terror events in Kabul, Istanbul, Mogadishu, Brussels, Bangkok and Paris.

“We must acknowledge that terrorism is undoubtedly the biggest violation of human rights. It targets the innocent and kills indiscriminately. Terrorism has gone way beyond affecting individuals or nations – it is a crime against humanity itself,” said Swaraj.

She then went to point fingers at state-backed terrorism. Swaraj said Afghanistan also had similar worries to make clear the allusion was only towards Pakistan and that India’s concerns were not the only one in the neighbourhood.

“Terrorists do not own banks or weapons factories, so let us ask the real question: who finances these terrorists, who arms them and provides sanctuaries? We heard similar questions being asked by Afghanistan from this podium”.

She stressed that the war against terrorism could not be won by “making specious distinctions between your problems and mine, between terrorists who attack you and those who attack me”. “For we do not know who this Frankenstein’s monster will devour next”.

Stating that only a united strategy from the international community could defeat terror, Swaraj tried to build a case for diplomatically isolating Pakistan.

“This is not an impossible task provided we have the will. We can do it, we must do it. Otherwise our future generations will forever hold us to account. And if any nation refuses to join this global strategy, then we must isolate it,” she said.

Swaraj claimed that there were “nations that still speak the language of terrorism, that nurture it, peddle it, and export it” and whose “calling card” was to shelter terrorists.

“We must identify these nations and hold them to account. These nations, in which UN designated terrorists roam freely, lead processions and deliver their poisonous sermons of hate with impunity, are as culpable as the very terrorists they harbour. Such countries should have no place in the comity of nations,” she asserted.

Swaraj took Nawaz Sharif to task for claiming that India put unacceptable pre-conditions for talks – listing out steps taken by New Delhi from the invitation to attend Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in 2014 to Modi’s quick hop to Lahore to convey birthday wishes to Sharif in December 2015.

“We have in fact attempted a new paradigm of friendship in the last two years which is without precedent. We conveyed Eid greetings to the prime minister of Pakistan, wished success to his cricket team, extended good wishes for his health and well-being. Did all this come with pre-conditions attached?”

In response to India’s outreached hand, Pakistan perpetrated terror attacks and pushed terrorists across the border, she alleged.

“And what did we get in return? Pathankot, Bahadur Ali, and Uri. Bahadur Ali is a terrorist in our custody, whose confession is a living proof of Pakistan’s complicity in cross-border terror.”

Pakistan’s reply to “such evidence” has always been “denial” and persistence in its belief that “such attacks will enable it to obtain the territory it covets”.

“My firm advice to Pakistan is: abandon this dream. Let me state unequivocally that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always remain so,” she added.

In her 2015 speech, Swaraj had similarly criticised Pakistan, but kept the door open by saying that India was ready to hold discussion on all outstanding issues if Islamabad was sincere. A year later, there was not a single line which called for the resumption of talks.

Swaraj also repeated the need to take quick action on two of India’s pet projects – passage of the draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and reform of the United Nations Security Council

In the first part of her speech, she also talked about implementation of sustainable development goals and meeting the challenge of climate changes.

Swaraj noted that India will submit its instrument of ratification for Paris Climate change pact on October 2 since Gandhi “epitomised a lifestyle with the smallest carbon footprint”.

Later in response, Pakistan claimed that India’s reference to Balochistan proved it had a hand in fomenting trouble in the restive province and was against “UN principles and international law” .