'Pakistan's commitment to terrorism as an instrument of official policy has not abated one bit. Neither has its belief in hypocrisy.'
'What is heartening is that the world is no longer ready to believe Islamabad.'
Calling out Pakistan's ‘lie’ that India is sabotaging the dialogue process, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday asked world leaders how can talks can be pursued in the midst of ‘terrorist bloodshed’ with a nation that ‘glorifies killers’.
In a hard-hitting retort to Pakistan, Swaraj said India has made many efforts to have talks with Islamabad and the only reason they have stopped is because of Pakistan's behaviour.
"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 Pakistan's behaviour," she said in her address to the General Debate of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The Indian leader told the world body that after assuming power, Pakistan's new Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggesting a meeting between the countries' foreign ministers on the margins of the General Assembly.
India accepted the proposal but, within hours of its acceptance, news came that terrorists had killed three Indian jawans, she said.
"Does this indicate a desire for dialogue," Swaraj asked.
She informed the General Assembly that various governments in India over the years have tried the peace option.
Prime Minister Modi, by inviting the Heads of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation nations to his swearing in ceremony, had begun his attempt for dialogue on his very first day in office.
Swaraj said she too had in December 2016, personally gone to Islamabad and offered a comprehensive bilateral dialogue.
"But soon after, Pakistan-sponsored terrorists attacked our air force base in Pathankot on January 2. Please explain to me how we could pursue talks in the midst of terrorist bloodshed," she asked.
Swaraj also slammed Pakistan for time and again accusing India of human rights violations, saying ‘who can be a greater transgressor of human rights than a terrorist?’
"Those who take innocent human lives in pursuit of war by other means are defenders of inhuman behavior, not of human rights. Pakistan glorifies killers; it refuses to see the blood of innocents," she said.
In another strong retort, Swaraj said it has become something of a habit with Pakistan to ‘throw the dust of deceit and deception against India in order to provide some thin cover for its own guilt’.
She recalled that the United Nations had seen Pakistan's use of deceit and deception last year when its representative, using her right to reply, displayed some photographs as ‘proof’ of ‘human rights violations’ by India.
In a major goof-up and embarrassment for Pakistan on the global stage, the photographs turned out to be from another country, the minister noted.
"Similar false accusations have become a part of its standard rhetoric," Swaraj said.
Swaraj described terrorism as an ‘existential threat’ to humanity.
Even as the perpetrators of the 9/11 terror attacks in New York met their fate, Swaraj said the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack Hafiz Saeed still roams the streets of Pakistan with impunity.
"Pakistan's commitment to terrorism as an instrument of official policy has not abated one bit. Neither has its belief in hypocrisy," Swaraj said.
"The biggest challenge of our era comes from the existential threats of climate change and terrorism. We imagined that the arrival of the 21st Century would bring with it an age of common good, defined by cooperation in the quest for peace and prosperity.
“But here in New York, the horrific tragedy of 9/11, and in Mumbai the catastrophe of 26/11 became the nightmares that shattered our dreams," Swaraj said.
She said the demon of terrorism now stalks the world, at a faster pace somewhere, a slower pace elsewhere, but life-threatening everywhere.
"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," Swaraj said.
The Indian leader told the world leaders at the General Assembly that the most startling evidence of Pakistan's duplicity was the fact that Osama Bin Laden, the architect and ideologue of 9/11 terror attack was given safe haven in the country.
Even after the world's most wanted terrorist was killed by American special forces, ‘Pakistan continued to behave as if nothing had happened’, she said.
"America had declared Osama bin Laden it's most dangerous enemy, and launched an exhaustive, worldwide search to bring him to justice. What America perhaps could not comprehend was that Osama would get sanctuary in a country that claimed to be America's friend and ally: Pakistan," she said.
Eventually, America's intelligence services discovered the truth of this hypocrisy, and its special forces delivered justice.
"What is heartening is that the world is no longer ready to believe Islamabad," she said, citing that Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has put Pakistan on notice over terror funding.
She said that India had proposed a draft document in 1996 on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) at the UN but even till today, that draft has remained a draft, because UN member states cannot agree on a common language.
"On the one hand, we want to fight terrorism; on the other, we cannot define it.
"This is why terrorists with a price on their head are celebrated, financed and armed as liberation heroes by a country that remains a member of the United Nations," Swaraj said
She was referring to Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed on whom the US has put a USD 10 million bounty for information leading to his arrest and conviction.
Despite the bounty and UN sanctions against him, Saeed moves around with impunity in Pakistan, addresses rallies and takes part in the 2018 general elections, she said.
Swaraj further pointed out that in the absence of an international law on counter-terrorism, ‘cruelty and barbarism are advertised as heroism’.
"The country prints postage stamps glorifying terrorists. If we do not act now, we will have to deal with conflagration later," Swaraj said, referring to Pakistan releasing a series of 'commemorative' postal stamps glorifying Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani as a ‘freedom fighter’.
Wani was gunned down in an encounter with Indian security forces in July 2016.
Swaraj made a strong appeal to the 193-member UN body that it come to an agreement soon on the CCIT as one of the necessary measures in a long running war.