With Kashmir facing its worst unrest since militancy in the 1990s, and the Indian Army facing its worst-ever terrorist attack, in Uri, on Sunday, which claimed the lives of 18 Indian Army jawans, India will take on Pakistan at the United Nations General Assembly that’s currently underway, demanding that it take action and stop terrorists from using its land as a safe haven.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is scheduled to address the Assembly today and it is expected that the Kashmir issue will dominate his speech. Pakistan has made its stand clear and Sharif himself made a statement in July and said “we are waiting for Kashmir to become a part of Pakistan.”
Sharif’s comments came at a time when the Valley is reeling under violent protests after killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Muzaffar Wani on July 8. Vitriolic exchanges began among leaders from both sides as tension escalated in the region. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj gave a befitting reply to Pakistan and said: Pakistan’s dream of Kashmir will not be realised till the end of eternity.”
The first time India and Pakistan sparred over Kashmir, is the longest-ever speech delivered by any leader at United Nations. It was by India’s then Defence minister Vengalil Krishnan Krishna Menon, who on January 23-24, 1957, made a strong case for the country about the Kashmir conflict. Menon spoke for seven hours and 48 minutes. The speech was made in response to Pakistan’s speech at the UN on January 16, 1957, in which they raised the what they claimed was Kashmir’s ‘spurious’ accession to India.
Since then, multiple speeches have been delivered, seeking to discuss Kashmir. The last two decades have witnessed an increase in attacks in the region which India has highlighted a number of times. The Kashmir issue, and a demand for a peaceful settlement, gained momentum and was raised at UN by Indian leaders repeatedly over the last decade.
Former Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh made it clear in their speeches in 2002 and 2013 respectively that for diplomatic talks to move forward, it was important that Pakistan made sure that its territory is not used for acts of terrorism. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also reiterated this point in her 2015 address to United Nations.
We take a look at their speeches:
Atal Bihari Vajpayee – 2002
Referring to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s address to assembly a day ago in which he said that forthcoming elections in the state of Jammu and Kashmir were a farce, Atal Bihari Vajpayee sternly responded and said: “If the elections are a mere fraud, why are terrorists being trained and infiltrated into India at command of the ISI, intelligence agency of Pakistan to kill candidates and intimidate voters.” Vajpayee, who was making the speech after September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on Indian parliament made a robust argument against terrorism and its spread.
Dr Manmohan Singh – 2013
“State sponsored and cross-border terrorism is of particular concern to India also on account to the fact the the epicentre of terrorism in our region is located in our neighbourhood in Pakistan,” said then PM Manmohan Singh in response to Pakistan’s offer of making a new beginning. Although he said that India was committed to resolving all issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, with Pakistan but reiterated that for this to happen, Pakistan dismantled the terrorist machinary which is operating on its land.
Sushma Swaraj – 2015
“India has been facing the threat of terrorism for last 25 years. The international community needs to stand united against countries which provide a safe haven to these terrorist groups,” said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in an apparent mention to Pakistan. Swaraj also raised 2008 Mumbai attacks and the fact that its mastermind Hafiz Saeed was roaming free in Pakistan.
Sushma Swaraj will be addressing the UNGA in coming week and is expected to again bring up Kashmir as a dominant point in her speech. After India’s fresh and strong stance on Balochistan and Sindh’s demand of cessation from Pakistan, it is anticipated that they will also find a mention in her address.