External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s address at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Monday in the background of the Uri attack in Jammu and Kashmir is much awaited, not just in India, but also internationally. Tensions between India and Pakistan have spiked ever since four terrorists attacked an army base in Uri along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir killing 18 soldiers and injuring over 20. The attack is yet another reminder of Pakistan’s increasing support to terrorism and its bid to ‘bleed India by a thousand cuts’.
The attack has caused widespread anguish amongst Indians, and calls are growing louder for a strong retaliation from the Narendra Modi government. Addressing a public meeting in Kozhikode as part of BJP National Council meet on Saturday, PM Narendra Modi said that there was a sense of anger among people over the audacious attack in Uri and the sacrifice of the soldiers will not go in vain. The government, it seems, is moving to aggressively isolate Pakistan on the global stage, instead of resorting to a large-scale military response. Last week, Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif devoted around 80% of his speech to the Kashmir issue, a move that was snubbed by most countries at the UN. In this backdrop, Sushma Swaraj’s speech at the UNGA becomes very important and India must explore all channels to isolate Pakistan diplomatically and economically on the issue of terrorism. Here is how Swaraj can send a hard-hitting message to Pakistan in her speech at UNGA:
1) Call out Pakistan and Nawaz Sharif’s lies: Significantly, India should, if possible name and shame Pakistan. Why just say ‘one country’ exports terrorism, instead slam Pakistan for being the source of all issues related to terrorism. As PM Modi recently said, all terrorist activities across the world can be traced back to Pakistan in terms of their origin. It’s time to stop pussy-footing! “Pakistan wants peace with India. I have gone the extra mile to achieve this, repeatedly offering a dialogue to address all outstanding issues. But India has posed unacceptable preconditions to engage in a dialogue,” Sharif said. Swaraj should question Pakistan, is talking on terrorism and ways to combat it an unacceptable condition? She must also call out Sharif on his lies of calling Burhan Wani a ‘peaceful young leader’. His move to name Burhan Wani at UN only shows Pakistan’s open support to terrorists, and should be condemned without mincing words.
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2) Strong pitch to declare Pakistan a terrorist state: Swaraj should urge members of the United Nations to chalk a new course of action to forcefully and adequately deal with countries which use terrorism as a state policy. There is clinching evidence to show that the perpetrators of Uri attack were highly trained, heavily armed and specially equipped by the Pakistani state. Exercising India’s Right of Reply to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the UNGA, Eenam Gambhir, India’s First Secretary, Permanent Mission of India to the UN said, “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.” At the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, US Secretary of State John Kerry had urged Sharif to prevent terrorists from using Pakistani territory as safe havens.
3) Highlight Pakistani atrocities in Balochistan, Gilgit and Baltistan: Taking a cue from PM Modi’s speech in Kozhikode where he openly warned India’s western neighbour of isolating it internationally, the External Affairs Minister should take a tough stance and highlight Pakistani atrocities in Balochistan, Sindh, Gilgit and Baltistan. Many analysts and experts in recent days have suggested that Sushma Swaraj should give a powerpoint presentation to the UN & show to the world the human rights violations that the Pakistani state is up to. There is documentary evidence to show that human rights abuses continue with impunity, particularly in Balochistan, Sindh and Pakistan occupied Kashmir. As a result, over a million people remain displaced in northwestern Pakistan.
4) Adopt the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT): Sushma should push member nations at the United Nations to adopt CCIT, a move which India had initiated way back in 1996. If CCIT is adopted, it would become easier for member states to take action to bring perpetrators of terror acts to justice. Ratification of CCIT would bind member states to take action on terrorists in their country. Currently, the CCIT draft is being discussed at the Sixth Ad Hoc Committee of the United Nations.
5) Arms embargo and economic sanctions on Pakistan: Citing examples of other nations, Sushma should push members of the United Nations to support an arms embargo on Pakistan. An arms embargo prohibits the export of weapons to a nation, particularly a ‘failed state’, and rendering technical assistance related to arms. Yemen, South Sudan, Libya are countries where there is an arms embargo. Pakistan, with its poor human rights record and its role in harbouring terrorists, falls into the category of a “failed state” where there should be an arms embargo. Not only that, Swaraj should also urge major countries to consider imposing economic sanctions on Pakistan, a move that would serve to be a big blow to the country’s economy.