Isolate Pakistan, Sushma tells world at U.N.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Monday.  

India took its campaign to diplomatically isolate Pakistan at the United Nations on Monday, with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj asking the world community to hold countries that “nurture, peddle and export” terrorism to account. A unified global strategy can defeat terrorism, “and if any nation refuses to join this global strategy, then we must isolate it,” she said, speaking in Hindi.

Countering Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who accused India of human rights violations while speaking at the UN last week, Ms. Swaraj sought to turn the table on Islamabad. “The brutality against the Baloch people represents the worst form of State oppression,” she said, referring to the ethnic minority in Pakistan.

Ms. Swaraj sought to marry India’s national priorities with the international community’s objectives, while singling out Pakistan as one country that is out of tune with those.

The Minister elaborated on how India’s positions converged with the global concerns on three issues – terrorism, climate change and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Her narrative also explains – at least partly – India’s decision to ratify the Paris climate pact, in an abrupt turnaround from its recent position that the national process for ratification was still in progress. MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup has earlier linked India’s ability to ratify the Paris accord to the Nuclear Suppliers Group admitting India as a member, a position India appears to have abandoned.

Ms. Swaraj reiterated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement on Sunday that India will ratify the pact on October 2, birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Referring to the visions of Gandhiji and Mr. Modi on environment, Ms. Swaraj said: “If we exploit nature mindlessly, then we must be mindful that nature will unleash its fury upon us.”

Thirty-one countries have ratified the Paris agreement during the United Nations General Assembly, raising the total number to 60. These countries represent 48 per cent of global emissions. The agreement will enter into force a month after 55 countries accounting for 55 per cent of global emissions join it. With India committing to ratify it next week, the treaty will be in force before the end of the year, the foremost goal that U.S President Barack Obama wants to achieve before he demits office.

‘Yoga, India’s ancient wisdom’

Ms. Sushma asserted that India is culturally attuned to be gentle towards the environment. “Yoga, the storehouse of India’s ancient wisdom, epitomises a sustainable lifestyle,” she said.

Ms. Swaraj placed India on the right side of the climate change debate and SDG, before she launched the criticism of Pakistan and strategically emphasised India's continuing willingness to engage its neighbour in dialogue – addressing another key concern of the Obama administration.

“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, rejecting Mr. Shariff’s charge that India is setting preconditions for talks. “We conveyed Eid greetings to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, wished success to his cricket team, extended good wishes for his health and well-being. Did all this come with pre-conditions attached?,” she said.

‘India extended friendship, got terror attacks’

While the Modi government has sought to open a new chapter with Pakistan, all that it got in return was a series of terrorist attacks. “ > Pathankot , > Bahadur Ali, and > Uri. Bahadur Ali is a terrorist in our custody, whose confession is a living proof of Pakistan’s complicity in cross-border terror,” she said, referring to the LeT terrorist captured by Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir.

Linking India’s suffering due to terrorism to similar events in other countries, including bomb blasts in New York recently, she said defeating terrorism “is not an impossible task provided we have the will.”

Pointing out that some nations were not joining the global efforts to combat terrorism, Ms. Swaraj said UN designated terrorists “roam freely, lead processions and deliver their poisonous sermons of hate with impunity,” in such places. “Such countries should have no place in the comity of nations,” she said. “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?” .

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