India and Pakistan continued to wrangle at the U.N., as Pakistan exercised its right to reply to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s address, with an unbridled attack on India.
Accusing India of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, of “support and sponsorship of terrorism in Pakistan”, with references to the Samjhauta blasts and the 2002 Gujarat riots, Pakistan’s reply marks a new low in statements made at the U.N. over Kashmir. Claiming that over 100,000 Kashmiris had been killed in what it called Indian “state terrorism”, and making an unsubstantiated reference to “6,000 unnamed mass graves”, Pakistan called on India to withdraw troops and allow for a plebiscite in Kashmir.
The reply came hours > after Ms. Swaraj’s UNGA address where she rejected the four-point peace proposal made by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the U.N., saying that just “one-point” was necessary, and that was, for Pakistan to “give up terrorism”. “India’s insistence on limiting the talks to a one-point agenda proves that [India] is neither interested nor serious in engaging in a genuine dialogue,” the Pakistani reply read.
On Friday, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.N. Maleeha Lodhi had handed over dossiers to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon that included allegations of “Indian interference and support of terrorism” and “intelligence agency links with the Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan”. The UNSG’s office made no comment on the issue. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz told reporters in New York that he had taken up the allegations against India with 15 Foreign Ministers he met during his stay.
In her statement, Ms. Swaraj, who called for “zero tolerance” to countries that sponsor terrorism, had referred to Pakistan’s release of the 26/11 Mumbai masterminds as an “affront to the international community”. Earlier, India, in its right of reply to Mr. Sharif’s speech, had said the “foreign occupation” of Jammu and Kashmir was by Pakistan, and called on Pakistan to vacate PoK.
Shift in strategy The severity of Pakistan’s attack on Ms. Swaraj’s speech seems linked to the shift in the Indian strategy towards bringing up Pakistan’s human rights violations in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, including Gilgit and Baltistan. Several videos leaked to television channels this week showing police atrocities in PoK appear to be linked to the NDA government’s new push at highlighting the conditions in PoK. Confirming the policy as a “carefully considered move”, a senior official told The Hindu that the new strategy was the most effective way to counter Pakistan’s attempts at attacking India. The official also rejected criticism that the new policy of highlighting PoK issues could lead to “internationalising” the Kashmir issue, which India has avoided for decades. There has been no U.N. reference to Kashmir since a UNSC resolution after the 1971 war, and India has prevailed in keeping the issue bilateral. However, many diplomats have hailed the new Indian policy. “It is about time that India took this stand,” said former Foreign Secretary and former Ambassador to Pakistan K.S. Bajpai.
“We have always maintained that we are supposed to be dignified and not counter Pakistan’s allegations, but it hasn’t worked. Taking up atrocities in PoK is the right thing to do.”