Home / Politics / Policy /  Sushma Swaraj at UNGA: Terrorism is Pakistan’s calling card

India dubbed Pakistan as a country with terror as its “calling card" on Monday and urged the United Nations to isolate such countries which permit terrorists to carry on their activities unimpeded.

In a hard-hitting speech at the United Nations General Assembly, Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj argued for a unified global strategy to defeat terrorism describing it as the “biggest violation of human rights", urging the UN to pass the India-proposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT)—it provides a legal framework making it imperative for all signatories to deny funds and safe havens to terrorist groups.

“There are nations that still speak the language of terrorism, that nurture it, peddle it, and export it. To shelter terrorists has become their calling card," Swaraj said before adding, “These nations, in which UN designated terrorists roam freely, lead processions and deliver their poisonous sermons of hate with impunity, are as culpable as the very terrorists they harbour. Such countries should have no place in the comity of nations," Swaraj said.

Swaraj was clearly alluding to Pakistan sheltering groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist groups and their leaders like Hafeez Saeed and Maulana Masood Azhar.

Her comments come a week after four terrorists struck an Indian army garrison in Uri, north Kashmir. Seventeen army men were killed in the 18 September early morning strike with one succumbing to his injuries later. India has blamed the attack on the Pakistan-based JeM.

In her speech that also contained references to UN Security Council reforms and India’s progress in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Swaraj said that Pakistan persisted in its belief that terrorism will enable it to obtain the territory it “covets".

“My firm advice to Pakistan is: abandon this dream. Let me state unequivocally that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always remain so," she said.

Referring to Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech to the UN General Assembly on 21 September, Swaraj said Sharif had made “baseless allegations about human rights violations" in Indian-administered Kashmir. The allusion was to Sharif’s comments about more than 100 deaths and thousands injured in Indian-administered Kashmir which has witnessed unrest in the past two months following the killing of Burhan Wani, who India says was a terrorist belonging to the Hizbul Mujahideen group.

“I can only say that those accusing others of human rights violations would do well to introspect and see what egregious abuses they are perpetrating in their own country, including in Balochistan. The brutality against the Baloch people represents the worst form of state oppression," she said following prime minister Narendra Modi’s lead of highlighting the human rights violations in Pakistan’s biggest province where reports say the Pakistani army is using artillery, tanks and airforce jets to suppress an insurgency.

She also rejected Sharif’s contention that India was setting conditions for resuming peace talks with Pakistan.

“What pre-conditions? We took the initiative to resolve issues not on the basis of conditions, but on the basis of friendship. We have in fact attempted a paradigm of friendship in the last two years which is without precedent," she said listing Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore in December as an example of India’s desire to cultivate normal relations with Pakistan.

In her remarks to the international community, Swaraj noted that “terrorists do not own banks or weapons factories, so let us ask the real question: who finances these terrorists, who arms them and provides sanctuaries?"

She warned that the war against terrorism could not be won by “making specious distinctions between your problems and mine, between terrorists who attack you and those who attack me"—calling for a setting aside of prejudices “to script an effective strategy against terror."

Swaraj’s speech won kudos from analysts at home. “It was well-crafted speech that touched on issues like SDGs as well as those of concern to India like terrorism," said former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal. “She demolished Pakistan’s arguments on conditions for talks and human rights," he said, adding: “There was a clear signal to Pakistan that India will help Balochistan become an issue on the international map."

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