In a sharp riposte to Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s charge that New Delhi was running a campaign of subversion and state-sponsored terrorism against Islamabad, India on Friday described Pakistan as “Terroristan” and “land of pure terror”, at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Friday. At the UNGA last year, India had called Pakistan the “Ivy League of terrorism”. Like last year, India’s reply was given by Eenam Gambhir, a 2005-batch diplomat in New York.
“In its short history, Pakistan has become a geography synonymous with terror. The quest for a ‘land of pure’ (Pakistan means the land of the pure) has actually produced ‘the land of pure terror’. Pakistan is now ‘Terroristan’, with a flourishing industry producing and exporting global terrorism,” said Gambhir, reading from a prepared text: “It is extraordinary that the state which protected Osama bin Laden and sheltered Mullah Omar should have the gumption to play the victim. By now, all Pakistan’s neighbours are painfully familiar with these tactics to create a narrative based on distortions, deception and deceit,” she said.
Emboldened by the US, Japan, BRICS and Heart of Asia naming Lashkar-e-Taiba in joint statements, she said: “Its current state can be gauged from the fact that Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, a leader of the UN-designated terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba, is now sought to be legitimised as a leader of a political party.”
Referring to the recent election in Pakistan where a candidate backed by Hafiz Saeed got over 40,000 votes, she said: “This is a country whose counter-terrorism policy is to mainstream and upstream terrorists by either providing safe havens to global terror leaders in its military town, or protecting them with political careers… None of this can justify Pakistan’s avaricious efforts to covet the territories of its neighbours. In so far as India is concerned, Pakistan must understand that the State of Jammu and Kashmir is, and will always remain, an integral part of India. However much its scales up cross-border terrorism, it will never succeed in undermining India’s territorial integrity.”
“We also heard Pakistan complain about the consequences of its supposed counter-terrorism efforts. Having diverted billions of dollars in international military and development aid towards creating a dangerous infrastructure of terror on its own territory, Pakistan is now speaking of the high cost of its terror industry. The polluter, in this case, is paying the price,” said Gambhir.
This comes in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s new South Asia strategy, which has hit out at Pakistan and has, in recent weeks, tried to squeeze funding, unless visible action is taken against terrorist outfits. Calling Pakistan a “failed state”, Gambhir said, “Even as terrorists thrive in Pakistan and roam its streets with impunity, we have heard it lecture about the protection of human rights in India. The world does not need lessons on democracy and human rights from a country whose own situation is charitably described as a failed state.”
“Terroristan is in fact a territory whose contribution to the globalisation of terror is unparalleled. Pakistan can only be counseled to abandon a destructive worldview that has caused grief to the entire world. If it could be persuaded to demonstrate any commitment to civilisation, order, and peace, it may still find some acceptance in the comity of nations,” she said.
In September 2016, while responding to then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Gambhir had said at the UNGA that “the land of Taxila, one of the greatest learning centres of ancient times, is now host to the Ivy League of terrorism. It attracts aspirants and apprentices from all over the world.”
Addressing the UNGA on Friday, Pakistan Prime Minister Abbasi said that Islamabad had offered dialogue with New Delhi on all thorny issues, especially over Kashmir. “Pakistan remains open to resuming a comprehensive dialogue with India to address all outstanding issues, especially Kashmir, and discuss measures to maintain peace and security,” he said. “This dialogue must be accompanied by an end to India’s campaign of subversion and state-sponsored terrorism against Pakistan, including from across our western border,” he said.
In its statement at the UNGA on Friday, Afghanistan also hit out at Pakistan for sheltering terrorists — Osama bin Laden, Mullah Umar, Mullah Akhtar Mansour.
Last year, after the Uri attack, India had resorted to naming and shaming Pakistan at various international fora. In October 2016, at the BRICS summit in Goa, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called it the “mothership of terrorism” and said “terrorism is Pakistan’s favourite child”. Indian officials said that traditionally, Pakistan was always described as a country which uses terrorism as an instrument of state policy. Over the last decade, it has often been described as the “epicentre of terrorism”.
Officials recalled Pakistan being called an “international migraine which can be cured by India” by US Secretary of State Madeline Albright. While referring to Pakistan hobnobbing with terrorists, Hillary Clinton, as US Secretary of State, had said: “You can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbors.”