In a counter to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s UNGA speech on Saturday, Pakistan accused India of sponsoring terrorism on its soil including the Peshawar school attack in 2014 and warned the Indian side of “severe reaction if it attempted any misadventure against Pakistan”.
Pakistan foreign minister Mehmood Qureshi, who addressed the General Debate of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly after his Indian counterpart, portrayed Pakistan as a victim of terror and alleged that the Indian government was behind the Pakistani Taliban that carried out the Army school attack in 2014 that killed about 150 students. He also mentioned Kulbhushan Jadhav as its evidence of India’s involvement with terrorism in Pakistan.
Raking up the Kashmir issue in the United Nations Assembly, Pakistan Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi called it a “blot on the conscience of humanity” and said that peace can never be restored between the two countries until the dispute is resolved.
Qureshi said New Delhi must “stop human rights violations in Kashmir and also stop ceasefire violations across the line of control”. “It is India that in plain sight operates state terrorism in Jammu Kashmir,” he stressed, adding that it is a matter of great concern that “humanity is being crushed and human rights are being violated all across India”.
Qureshi also expressed support for the report on Kashmir presented by Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and said that it was ready to welcome the international commission of inquiry he proposed. The report had sought inquiry into Indian forces action in Kashmir.
Referring to the proposed meeting between the two countries on the sidelines of UNGA, Pakistan accused India of cancelling the dialogue on “flimsy ground.” “They used the pretext of stamps issued months ago…and depicting grave human rights violations, including pellet gun victims, as an excuse to back out from the talks,” he said. India had called off the meeting, citing the brutal killings of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir and Islamabad releasing postage stamps “glorifying” Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani.
Pakistani Foreign Minister also stressed that Pakistan desires a relationship based on “sovereign equality and mutual respect” with India, and will continue to pursue partnerships for peace and prosperity with its neighbour.
“Dialogue is the only way to address long-standing issues that have long bedevilled South Asia, and prevented the region from realising its true potential,” he said, adding that the “unresolved Jammu and Kashmir dispute hinders the realisation of the goal of durable peace” between the two countries. Qureshi also said that if India ventures across the Line of Control, or acts upon its doctrine of “limited” war against Pakistan, “it will evoke a strong and matching response.”
New Pakistan’ cast in the mould of the old: India at UN
Rejecting Pakistan’s accusations, Eenam Gambhir, India’s First Secretary in Permanent Mission of India to UN reiterated that talks and terror cannot happen hand-in-hand. Referring to the newly-appointed Pakistan Foreign Minister Qureshi’s address, India exercising its Right to Reply said, “What we heard is a new Pakistan cast in the mould of old.”
Referring to Pakistan’s allegation that New Delhi was behind the Peshawar terror attack as “outrageous,” India’s Gambhir said, “The despicable insinuation made by Pakistan dishonours memory of innocent lives lost to terrorists that day. It’s a desperate attempt to look away from the monster of terror that Pakistan itself created in its quest to destabilise its neighbours and covet their territory.”
On Pakistan’s claim of fighting terrorism, India asked Pakistan to deny being the host and patron of 132 of the UN-designated terrorists and 22 terrorist entities under the 1267 and the 1988 UN Security Council sanctions regime. “Will Pakistan deny that UN-designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed enjoys a free run inside Pakistan, spews venom & sets up candidates for electoral offices?” Gambhir said.
Slamming Pakistan for accusing India of cancelling talks on “flimsy grounds,” Gambhir said, “The new Foreign Minister of Pakistan chose to term the gruesome killing of our security personnel by Pakistan sponsored terrorists as flimsy grounds. While it may not be the case for Pakistan, for India every loss of life counts. Hence our belief that talks and terror can’t go together.”
Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj accused Pakistan of being an “expert in trying to mask malevolence with verbal duplicity”, and justified India’s decision to call off the meeting with her Pakistani counterpart.
“We are accused of sabotaging the process of talks. This is a complete lie. We believe that talks are the 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 (Pakistan’s) behaviour,” Swaraj said in her address to the 73rd session of the UNGA in New York Saturday. “In our case, terrorism is bred not in some faraway land, but across our border to the west. Our neighbour’s expertise is not restricted to spawning grounds for terrorism; it is also an expert in trying to mask malevolence with verbal duplicity.”
(With inputs from agencies)