India’s misfortune is that its neighbour is equally adept at spreading terrorism and denying its role in it, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Saturday, indicating Pakistan. She was addressing the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“India is unfortunate that our terror comes from our neighbour,” said Swaraj. Describing terrorism as a “demon”, she said that its scourge has now reached every country. “The biggest challenge of our era comes from the existential threats of climate change and terrorism.”
“We are accused of sabotaging the process of talks [with Pakistan],” she said. “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.”
On September 20, India had agreed for a meeting between Swaraj and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, but called it off the next day, citing “deeply disturbing developments”. Pakistan had expressed disappointment at India’s decision.
Modi had invited all heads of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation nations to his swearing-in ceremony in order to begin a dialogue with Pakistan, said Swaraj. In December 2016, she had visited Islamabad and offered a comprehensive bilateral dialogue. “But soon after, Pakistan-sponsored terrorists attacked our air force base in Pathankot on January 2,” said Swaraj. “Please explain to me how we could pursue talks in the midst of terrorist bloodshed.”
Attacking Pakistan for denying its involvement in terrorist activities, Swaraj said the country had even lied to the United States about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. “Even after the truth came out [after bin Laden’s death], Pakistan didn’t express any regret or shame,” she said Swaraj.
Condemning Pakistan for accusing India of violating human rights, Swaraj said terrorists were the chief transgressors. “Those who take innocent human lives in pursuit of war by other means are defenders of inhuman behaviour, not of human rights,” she said. “Pakistan glorifies killers, while refusing to see the blood of innocents.”
Swaraj urged the world body to take up fundamental reforms at the Security Council at the earliest. “Reform cannot be cosmetic,” she said. “We need change the institution’s head and heart to make both compatible to contemporary reality.”
Swaraj also called on the United Nations to work together for the welfare of all nations and run on the principles of a family. “A family runs on compassion, not trade,” she said. “In UN, we cannot say this is me and mine, we should keep every country’s goals in perspective.”