In a sharp rebuke to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, India today told Pakistan to abandon the “dream" of obtaining Kashmir, saying those accusing others of rights violations must introspect as it censured Pakistan for the first time at the UNGA for perpetrating the "worst form of state oppression" in Balochistan.
Taking a veiled dig at Pakistan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in her address at the 71st UN General Assembly (UNGA) session said there are nations "in our midst" where UN designated terrorists roam freely and deliver “their poisonous sermons of hate with impunity”, an apparent reference to Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed.
She also made a strong pitch for isolating such nations who speak the language of terrorism and for whom sheltering terrorists has become "their calling card".
"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. We must identify these nations and hold them to account," Swaraj asserted in her nearly 20-minute speech in Hindi.
"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," Swaraj said, in essence making a call to the international community to isolate such nations.
In a strong rebuttal of the "baseless allegations" made by Sharif from the podium of the General Assembly about human rights violations by India in Kashmir, Swaraj said, "I can only say that those accusing others of human rights violations 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."
Countering Pakistan's claims that India has imposed pre-conditions on talks, Swaraj said India got the attacks of Pathankot and Uri "in return" for taking the initiative to resolve issues with Islamabad not on the basis of conditions but on friendship.
She told Pakistan to "abandon this dream" of obtaining Kashmir, asserting that Jammu and Kashmir is an "integral part of India and will always remain so".
"It (Pakistan) persists in the belief that such attacks will enable it to obtain the territory it covets," Swaraj said, adding that their plans will not succeed.
Swaraj forcefully rejected Sharif's remarks in his General Assembly address last week that India has placed "pre-conditions" for talks which are not acceptable to him.
"What pre-conditions? Did we impose any pre-condition before extending an invitation for the oath-taking ceremony of our Government?" Swaraj said, referring to the unprecedented move by Modi to invite heads of the governments from the South Asian neighborhood, including Sharif, for his oath-taking ceremony in May 2014.
"Did we impose any pre-condition when I went to Islamabad for the Heart of Asia conference and agreed to begin the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue? Did we impose any pre- condition when Prime Minister Modi travelled from Kabul to Lahore? What pre-conditions?," Swaraj said, making a reference to the surprise visit Modi made to Lahore last December on his way back from Kabul.
In her address, Swaraj said India has attempted an unprecedented "paradigm of friendship" with Pakistan over the last years, which has included wishing the Pakistani leader on the festival of Eid, wishing success to his cricket team and extending good wishes for his health. In return, she said for these gestures, India got the attacks in Uri and Pathankot.
"We took the initiative to resolve issues not on the basis of conditions, but on the basis of friendship! We have in fact attempted a 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," Swaraj said.
"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," she added.
Her speech came just over a week after 18 Indian soldiers were killed in a deadly attack by militants on an army base in Kashmir's Uri.
Swaraj asserted that when confronted with such evidence, Pakistan "remains in denial".
Swaraj asserted that terrorism deeply concerns every member of the UN General Assembly, with people from New York, Kabul, Uri and Istanbul bearing the brunt of the growing scourge.
"This month we marked the 15th Anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on this city. Tragically, less than 15 days ago, another attempt at killing innocents was made through an act of terror in this same city," Swaraj said reffering to the bombings in Manhattan and New Jersey earlier this month.
"We, who have suffered in Uri recently, understand the pain inflicted by the same forces. The world has been battling this scourge for long. However, despite the blood and tears of innocent victims, attacks this year alone in Kabul and Dhaka, Istanbul and Mogadishu, Brussels and Bangkok, Paris, Pathankot and Uri as well as daily barbaric tragedies in Syria and Iraq, remind us that these malevolent forces are yet to be defeated," she said.
Swaraj underlined that the international community must acknowledge that terrorism is undoubtedly the biggest violation of human rights and is a crime against humanity.
"It targets the innocent and kills indiscriminately. Terrorism has gone way beyond affecting individuals or nations -- it is a crime against humanity itself. But it is important to ask -- who is behind this and who benefits from it? 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?" she said, adding that Afghanistan too had raised similar concerns on terror financing and safe havens from the UNGA podium.
"History proves that those who seed extremist ideologies, reap a bitter harvest. The germ of evil has grown into a hydra-headed monster, backed by technological sophistication that threatens the peace and harmony of our world," Swaraj said.
She called on the international community to unite across our differences to defeat terrorism, saying the fight against the global scourge cannot be won if distinctions are made between terrorists.
"We will not be able to win against terrorism 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," she said.
There is only one way to defeat terrorism and that is to “unite across our differences, add steel to our resolve and inject urgency in our response," she said.
Nations must forget their prejudices and join hands together to script an effective strategy against terror, Swaraj stressed.
"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 asserted. (PTI)