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Pakistan lies, glorifies terrorists: Sushma Swaraj

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 29: India launched a frontal attack on Pakistan at the UN General Assembly on Saturday, calling it “an expert in trying to mask malevolence with verbal duplicity,” accusing it of funding and glorifying terrorists and warning of a “conflagration” if terrorism was not rooted out.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj blamed Pakistan’s continued support of terror for stalled peace efforts between the subcontinental neighbours, and defended India’s record on human rights, saying there was no bigger transgressor of rights than terrorists. Pakistan “glorifies killers” and “refuses to see the blood of innocents,” she said.

In her address to the General Assembly, Swaraj listed the Indian government’s development programmes, aimed at achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, before describing climate change and terrorism as the “biggest challenge of our era”.

“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 in her fourth address to the world body.

Swaraj called on the UN to act on India’s proposal to pass a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, pending since 1996. As the UN dithers because of failure to find common language, “terrorists with a price on their head are celebrated, financed and armed as liberation heroes by a country” that is a member of the world body, she added. “Cruelty and barbarism are advertised as heroism. The country prints postage stamps glorifying terrorists,” she added in a tacit reference to Pakistan. “If we do not act now, we will have to deal with conflagration later.”

Swaraj, who spoke in Hindi, said Pakistan’s commitment to terrorism as an instrument of official policy and “belief in hypocrisy” continues. Referring to the killing of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden by US special forces in Pakistan in 2011, she said, “The killers of 9/11 met their fate, but the mastermind of 26/11, Hafiz Saeed, still roams the streets of Pakistan with impunity, organising rallies and participating in elections.”

Saeed is the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based group that carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed. He has sought to mainstream his group by launching a political front.

Swaraj said it was “heartening” Pakistan had been put “on notice” by the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which placed the country on its grey list for not countering terror funding and money laundering.

She blamed Islamabad’s continued support for terror for the failure of peace efforts between the two countries. “We are accused of sabotaging the process of talks,” she said, adding, “This is a complete lie.”

India wants talks as it believes they are the only way to resolve the most complex disputes. India has been trying to do so, irrespective of the party heading the government, she said.

“Talks with Pakistan have begun many times. If they stopped, it was only because of Pakistan’s behaviour,” she said, citing as proof the invitation extended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to heads of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) members, including Pakistan, to his 2014 swearing-in. She said she personally went to Islamabad in 2016 to launch a comprehensive dialogue, but there were attacks in India by terrorists from Pakistan soon after.

Swaraj said India accepted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s offer of talks, and she was scheduled to meet her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi in New York on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

“But, within hours of our acceptance, news came that terrorists had killed three of our jawans,” she said. “Does this indicate a desire for dialogue?”

Qureshi, who would address the General Assembly later on Saturday, is expected to attack India on many points and raise the issue of Kashmir as Pakistani leaders have done for years. He is also expected to accuse India of rights violations -- as Pakistan has done repeatedly but with little traction.

“Time and again, Pakistan accuses India of human rights violations,” Swaraj said. “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 behaviour, not of human rights. Pakistan glorifies killers, it refuses to see the blood of innocents.”

Swaraj also referred to the General Assembly in 2017, when Pakistan had presented photographs of a grievously wounded woman as “proof” of rights abuse by India in Kashmir, but it later emerged the image was of a victim wounded in airstrikes by Israeli forces in Gaza.

Swaraj also renewed a call for reforming the UN, warning it could face the fate of the League of Nations, which “went into meltdown because it was unwilling to accept the need for reform”. Started after World War 1 to prevent conflicts, the league folded up in 1946 after failing to stop World War 2.

“Reform must begin today, tomorrow could be too late. If the UN is ineffective, the whole concept of multilateralism will collapse,” the external affairs minister warned.

India has been seeking UN reforms, including expanding the permanent membership of the Security Council, to make it more representative of a changing world order, and has staked claim to its membership.

Swaraj reiterated the Indian government’s commitment to combating climate change, and called on developed countries to shoulder a larger share of the mitigation efforts and to do more.

“Those who have exploited nature for their immediate needs cannot abdicate their responsibilities. If we have to save the world from the adverse effects of climate change, then developed nations must lift the deprived with financial and technical resources,” she said.

Full Text of Sushma Swaraj Speech at 73rd UN General Assembly

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 29: Here is the full text of her speech at UNGA:

Your Excellency Madame President,

May I begin by congratulating you on your election as the President of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, on my personal behalf as well as on behalf of my country, India. As a woman, I feel doubly proud that you have this honour. I also recall, with equal pride, that the first woman to occupy this eminent chair was an Indian Smt. Vijayalakshmi Pandit, in 1953 during the 8th session. I will also like to thank the outgoing President Mr. Miroslav Lajcak for successfully conducting the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Madame President, we received a very bad news this morning that there was an earthquake and tsunami- both these tragedies occurred at the same time – and from this forum, on behalf of my country India, I would like to express deep condolences to the people and Government of Indonesia; and at the same time I would like to express assurance that India will cooperate in helping during this tragic time.

Madame President,

The United Nations is the world’s premier multilateral organization:

1: where nations seek balm for the wounds of history, and a platform for solutions.

2: where less developed nations sit with their more fortunate brethren to formulate plans that can correct the skewered economic imbalance.

3: where new goals are set, and route maps defined, to make our world a better place.

In 2015, we established 2030 as a critically important horizon for 17 Sustainable Development Goals. A common refrain, from 2015, has been that we will reach that horizon only if India finds its way to this destination. Otherwise, we shall fail.

I assure this august gathering through you, Madam, that India will not let you fail. We are totally committed to achieving these objectives for our own people. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has initiated unprecedented economic and social transformation that will help India achieve its SDG goals much before time.

Let me offer a few glimpses of evidence to illustrate what is the world’s biggest exercise in poverty elimination and social transformation:

Through the Jan Dhan Yojana, world’s largest financial inclusion scheme, over 320 million Indians, who had never crossed the door of a bank before, now have bank accounts. This has enabled the poor to receive allotments from the government’s welfare programmes into their personal accounts, through Direct Benefit Transfer, which has ended waste and corruption in the system.

Similarly, Ayushman Bharat, the world’s biggest health insurance programme, was launched by Prime Minister Modi a few days ago on 23rd September. This revolutionary scheme will benefit 500 million Indians, who will get an insurance cover of Rs 500,000 per family per year. We have a prayer in India: Sarve Santu Niramaya, which means, all should be healthy. The Aayushman Bharat Yojana is the answer to this prayer.

Similarly, we have launched the largest housing scheme in the world aimed at ensuring that everyone has a roof above their heads. Under the scheme, we have set ourselves a target of nealy 21 million homes by 2022. So far, over five million homes for the poor have already been constructed.

Similarly, two extremely effective schemes have been initiated to raise the skill levels of those waiting to be employed through Skill Development Programme and to turn the poor into entrepreneurs, through the Mudra Programme. I want to stress that over 140 million Indians have taken Mudra loans. The most significant aspect of Mudra scheme is that 76% of the beneficiaries are women.

At the heart of Prime Minister Modi’s transformative vision is a radical idea: that the uplift of any nation is best achieved through the all-round empowerment of women. All the schemes that I have just spoken about have the welfare of women at their core. Last year, I spoke about the Ujjawala scheme, in which I am happy to report 50 million free gas connections have been provided so far.

Another such initiative is the Maternity Benefit Scheme, in which women get 26 weeks of paid leave to care for their newborn. Madame President, as a woman, you will understand better than most how vitally important this programme is for every mother. Some developed nations with huge economies do not offer more than six weeks paid leave, leading to a continuing struggle for more time off. In India, we have implemented what women across the world need.

Madam President

In 2022, free India will be 75 years old. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged to build a New India by then. This New India will be:

1: Swachh Bharat, Swasth Bharat (Clean India, Healthy India);

2: Samarth Bharat, Surakshit Bharat (Prosperous India, Secure India);

3: Shikshit Bharat, Viksit Bharat (Educated India, Developed India);

4: Urjawan Bharat, Shaktiman Bharat (Energised India, Strong India).

That is our horizon for India in 2022. We will reach that horizon.

Madam President:

The biggest challenge of our era comes from the existential threats of climate change and terrorism.

Under-developed and developing nations are the worst victim of climate change. They have neither the capacity nor the resources to meet this crisis. Those who have exploited nature for their immediate needs cannot abdicate their responsibilities. If we have to save the world from the adverse effects of climate change, then developed nations must lift the deprived with financial and technical resources. The principle of common and differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities was reiterated in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

India has risen to meet the challenge of climate change. Prime Minister Modi in partnership with France launched the International Solar Alliance. The United Nations has recognized their contributions and conferred on Prime Minister Modi and President Macron the honour of UN Champions of the Earth. I am happy to inform you that 68 nations are now members of ISA. In March this year, India and France chaired the Founding Conference of ISA in which 120 countries participated.

Our Prime Minister has described his vision of Sustainable and available energy in a typically apt phrase: One Sun, One Grid. This breakthrough concept can become the solution we seek to the problems.

Madam President

I had described terrorism as the second existential threat to humanity. 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. 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.

The most startling evidence of this duplicity was the fact that Osama Bin Laden, the architect and ideologue of 9/11 was given safe haven in Pakistan. 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. Eventually, America’s intelligence services discovered the truth of this hypocrisy, and its special forces delivered justice. But Pakistan continued to behave as if nothing had happened. Pakistan’s commitment to terrorism as an instrument of official policy has not abated one bit. Neither has its belief in hypocrisy. The killers of 9/11 met their fate; but the mastermind of 26/11 Hafiz Saeed still roams the streets of Pakistan with impunity.

What is heartening is that the world is no longer ready to believe Islamabad. FATF, for instance, has put Pakistan on notice over terror funding.

Madam President

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 behavior. There have been many governments in India, by many different parties. Each government has tried the peace option. Prime Minister Modi, by inviting the Heads of the SAARC nations, to his swearing in ceremony, began his attempt for dialogue on his very first day in office. On 9th December 2016, I personally went to Islamabad and offered a comprehensive bilateral dialogue. But soon after, Pak sponsored terrorists attacked our air force base in Pathankot on 2nd January. Please explain to me how we could pursue talks in the midst of terrorist bloodshed? Even now, after the new government came to power, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan wrote to Prime Minister Modi suggesting a meeting between Foreign Ministers in New York. We accepted the proposal. But, within hours of our acceptance, news came that terrorists had killed three of our jawans. Does this indicate a desire for dialogue?

Time and again, Pakistan accuses India of human rights violations. 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.

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. The United Nations has seen this before. Last year, Pakistan’s representative, using her right to reply, displayed some photographs as “proof” of “human rights violations” by India. The photographs turned out to be from another country. Similar false accusations have become a part of its standard rhetoric.

Madam President:

Each year, for last five years, India has been arguing from this podium that lists are not enough to check terrorists and their protectors. We need to bring them to accountability through international law.

In 1996, India proposed a draft document on CCIT at the United Nations. Till today, that draft has remained a draft, because we 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 , finances and armed as liberation heroes by a country that remains a member of the United Nations. 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. Once again, I appeal to this August body to come to an agreement, soon, on CCIT as one of the necessary measures in a long running war.

Madam President

I began by highlighting the unique and positive role of the UN: but I must add that step by slow step, the importance, influence, respect and value of this institution is beginning to ebb. It is time to wonder if we are wandering towards the fate of the League of Nations. If 2030 is the agreed deadline for delivery on Sustainable Development Goals, then it also marks hundred years of the lapse of the League into irrelevance. Surely there is something to learn from this coincidence? The League went into meltdown because it was unwilling to accept the need for reform. We must not make that mistake.

The United Nations must accept that it needs fundamental reform. Reform cannot be cosmetic. We need change the institution’s head and heart to make both compatible to contemporary reality.

Reform must begin today; tomorrow could be too late. If the UN is ineffective, the whole concept of multilateralism will collapse. In this session, there has been much debate about multilateralism. We will never weaken the multilateral mechanism. India believes that the world is a family, and the best means of resolution is shared discourse. A family is shaped by love and is not transactional; a family is nurtured by consideration not greed; a family believes in harmony not jealousy. Greed breeds conflict; consideration leads to resolution. That is why the United Nations must be based on the principles of the family. The UN cannot be run by the ‘I’, it only works by the ‘We’.

India does not believe that the United Nations should become the instrument of a few at the cost of the many. India believes that we must move forward together or we sink into the swamp of stagnation.

Madam President

This year India will celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The Mahatma’s favourite bhajan was “Vaishnav Jan to tene Kahiye”. The essence is deeply moving and quintessentially important: He who understands the pain of another, and absorbs it as his own, is a good human being. He who sees this pain, and helps without becoming arrogant, is a good human being’.

Madam President

We have to make this assembly into a platform of understanding, assistance and true justice. We have to understand the pain of other nations, and work with developed nations to ease and eliminate this pain. Arrogance has no place in our scheme of things; arrogance is counter-productive and self-defeating. Let us work for the benefit of the less fortunate. Let us work for a world where there is peace, serenity and shared prosperity; a world that is free from terrorism, tension and violence.

It is with this wish in mind that I end with a shloka from our Sanskrit scriptures:

May all experience well being;
May all experience peace;
May all move towards perfection;
May all enjoy prosperity;
May all achieve serenity.

Thank you, Madam President.

Trump slams Iran at UN

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 25: President Donald Trump used his address to the United Nations General Assembly to castigate Iran for sowing "chaos, death and destruction" in the Middle East and singled out China for what he called unfair trade practices that hurt American companies. Trump also said that he won’t entertain trade deals that aren’t fair and reciprocal, and don’t stand to benefit the American people.

President Trump broadly outlined his efforts to crack down on Iran to both deny the country nuclear weapons and curb its adversarial power in the region. The U.S. leader will further address nonproliferation when he chairs the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday.

“Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and spread mayhem in the Middle East and far beyond,” he said. “The Iranian people are rightly outraged.”

“We will not allow our workers to be victimized, our companies to be cheated and our wealth to be plundered and transferred,” he said. “America will never apologize for protecting our citizens.”

Since his last appearance here, Mr. Trump has revised several global pacts and severed others. His unconventional attitude toward international treaties and multilateral alliances has rattled many countries, provoking questions on how a globalized world can cope with a protectionist U.S.

Trump arrived late for his speech, prompting organizers to reorder the addresses. Moments into his speech, Trump was met with an eruption of laughter from the General Assembly hall when he said his administration had “accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”

Looking around the room, Trump said, “I didn’t expect that reaction.” He added, “But that’s OK,” a line that was met with applause.

His return to the U.N. focused broadly on how his “America First” foreign-policy vision offers a path toward mutual prosperity for the U.S. and its allies, urging them to pursue their own independent paths.

“I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions,” Trump said. “The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.”

Trump took aim at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, saying that it is “ripping off the rest of the world” and he scolded World Trade Organization countries that “violate every single principle on which the organization is based.”

Trump signed a revised trade deal with South Korea on Monday. Some trade experts said the pact made only modest changes to the status quo.

He showcased his administration’s ongoing trade dispute with China, which abruptly canceled talks planned for this week, as the Trump administration imposed new 10% tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese exports starting Monday. Trump has vowed additional tariffs if China targets U.S. farmers. China has retaliated with tariffs on U.S. goods.

“I have great respect and affection for my friend, President Xi, but I have made clear our trade imbalance is just not acceptable,” Trump said of the Chinese president, who didn’t plan to attend the gathering. “China’s market distortions and the way they deal cannot be tolerated.”

Sushma Swaraj calls for end to conflicts

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 25: External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday called on world leaders at a peace summit at the UN General Assembly to work to end “conflicts, terror and hateful ideologies that are transcending borders”.

Swaraj named no country or entity but the call against terror has been a continuing and pressing theme for India at the global forum, as the world’s third-most affected country.

She had a busy first day at the UN on Monday, before the start of the General Assembly debate, holding nine bilateral meetings with counterparts from across the world, including Australia, Spain and Nepal.

“Our world is still beset with conflicts, terror and hateful ideologies that are transcending borders and impacting our lives,” Swaraj said at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit on Monday. “No one should be allowed to support terror or its perpetration.”

India has been at the forefront at the UN to call for an end to terrorism, and especially to prevent member nations from supporting terror and terrorist organisations as a tool of foreign policy.

Joined by the US, Britain and France, India has been trying in recent years to persuade a committee appointed by the UN Security Council to designate Masood Azhar, the head of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), as a global terrorist to prevent him travelling abroad and to force member nations to freeze his assets and deny him access to weapons.

Batting for Pakistan, where elements support and fund the JeM, China has repeatedly blocked these efforts.

“Our collective survival as a global family requires that the wisdom of pioneering leaders such as Mandela should remain as our moral compass,” Swaraj said at the summit. “We, Indians, consider Madiba (Mandela’s clan name used as a sign of respect) to be one of our own. We are proud to call him a Bharat Ratna — a Jewel of India.”

Among Swaraj’s bilateral meetings was one with foreign minister Marise Payne of Australia, a member of the Quadrilateral security dialogue. The Quad is a group of four nations with the US and Japan that is committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

“Strategic partnership gaining momentum!” external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted about the meeting. “Continuing our frequent engagement at the highest level.”

About Swaraj’s meeting with foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali of Nepal, a neighbour that has received unprecedented attention from the Modi government, Kumar tweeted: “Close neighbour and a friend! … (they) took stock of our bilateral relationship.”

Swaraj has a string of bilateral meetings on Tuesday too, among them one with Ibrahim al-Eshaiqer al-Jafari, the foreign minister of Iraq, the second largest supplier of crude oil to India, which is facing pressure to cut imports from Iran, one of three largest suppliers.

Swaraj will also meet counterparts from Brazil, Germany and Japan, the G-4 nations. The four nations are seeking UN reforms to reflect the changing world order and expansion of permanent membership of the Security Council that has remained unchanged since its inception.

Sushma Swaraj arrives in New York for UN General Assembly session

NEW YORK, Sept 23: External affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has arrived here to represent India at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly and hold several bilateral and multilateral meetings with her global counterparts.

She will address the General Debate in the morning of September 29.

Swaraj, who arrived in New York on Saturday, will hold several bilateral and multilateral discussions with her global counterparts as well as with the top UN officials, besides participating in several meetings and discussions throughout the week on the sidelines of the General Assembly session.

“Destination #UNGA73. India’s External Affairs Minister @SushmaSwaraj arrives in New York for High Level Segment of @UN,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin tweeted.

The General Debate commences on September 25. World leaders from 193 UN member states will address the global body.

US President Donald Trump will give his second address to the General Assembly on September 25.

In a tweet, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said “setting the stage for a week of hectic diplomacy! EAM @SushmaSwaraj arrives in New York to attend the 73rd Session of the #UnitedNations General Assembly and participate in several bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral meetings”.

Earlier, following India’s acceptance of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s proposal for a meeting, Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi were slated to meet on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

However, the Indian government called off the meeting, citing the brutal killings of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir and Islamabad releasing postage stamps “glorifying” militant Burhan Wani. Qureshi will address the UN General Assembly in the afternoon on September 29.

 

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