Give Up Terror, Let Us Sit Down & Talk: Swaraj To Pak

1 October 2015

New York: Rubbishing Pakistan's 4-point formula for peace, India today asserted that it is ready to discuss all issues if the neighbouring country addresses 'just one' point of ending terrorism emanating from there as she proposed NSA-level talks to address the problem. Addressing the UN General Assembly, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj referred to the perpetrators of 26-11 attacks who continue to roam freely in Pakistan and pressed the world community to ensure that countries which provide finances, safe havens and arms to terrorists 'pay a heavy price'. A day after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raked up Kashmir, the Indian minister used the same forum to raise the issue of 'illegal occupation of parts of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir' by Pakistan and said terror attacks from there are engineered to legitimise it. She made it clear that terrorism emanating from Pakistan is hampering normalisation of bilateral relations as she underlined that 'talks and terror cannot go together'. 'Yesterday the Prime Minister of Pakistan proposed what he termed as a four-point new peace initiative. I would like to respond. We do not need four points, we need just one - give up terrorism and let us sit down and talk,' Swaraj said while addressing the 193-member body. She said this was precisely what was discussed and decided by the two Prime Ministers at Ufa this July. 'Let me use this occasion to spell out our approach clearly. India remains open to dialogue,' Swaraj said in her 25-minute speech in Hindi. 'Let us hold talks at the level of NSAs on all issues connected to terrorism and an early meeting of our Directors General of Military Operations to address the situation on the border,' she said, adding 'If the response is serious and credible, India is prepared to address all outstanding issues through a bilateral dialogue.' Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sharif, during a meeting in Ufa in July, had agreed to hold NSA-level talks to discuss terror but these were cancelled at the last minute in August when Pakistan insisted on changing the agenda. Sharing the challenges that India faces in its ties with Pakistan, the External Affairs Minister said 'None of us can accept that terrorism is a legitimate instrument of statecraft.' She raised the issue of 26-11 carnage which was sponsored and controlled from Pakistan as also the latest attack in Udhampur in Jammu where a Pakistani terrorist was caught alive. 'The world shared our outrage at the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which citizens of many nations were helplessly butchered,' Swaraj said, adding that it was an 'affront to the entire international community' that the mastermind behind the attack is walking free in Pakistan. This was a reference to LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, who is roaming freely in Pakistan despite India giving it loads of evidence about his involvement in the attacks. 'Not only have past assurances in this regard not been honoured (by Pakistan) but new cross-border terrorist attacks have taken place recently, in which two terrorists from across the border have also been captured alive,' Swaraj said. One of the terrorists was caught alive during attack on BSF convoy in Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir. 'We all know that these attacks are meant to destabilize India and legitimize Pakistan's illegal occupation of parts of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir and its claim on the rest of it,' the Indian minister said. She said India has lived with the threat of terror for more than a quarter of a century and it was 'tragically brought home to this very city' (New York) in the autumn of 2001, a clear reference to the 9-11 attacks. Since then, the proliferation of terrorist acts, the rise of extremist ideologies, and the impunity of states that back it have not been adequately countered. Swaraj emphasised that international terrorism can only be defeated by organized international action and asked the world must demonstrate that it has zero tolerance for terrorists who kill and maim innocent civilians with action based on the principle of prosecute or extradite. 'Member states must undertake their obligations to investigate and prosecute those who are alleged to have supported terrorism,' she said. At the same time, she asserted that an international legal regime, under the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT), 'can no longer be held up, nor can we be held hostage by seeking to define terrorism when the General Assembly in 2006 adopted the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy unanimously.' Talking about the threat of terrorism, she said 'the safety of peacekeepers, the security of our nations, indeed the future of the international community itself is now dependent on how we respond to the greatest threat that we face today.' Targeting the UN on its 70th anniversary, she said it 'appears as an ineffective institution' when gauged on the parameters of whether it has been able to prevent conflicts, managed to find permanent solution to these conflicts or showing the path of peace to the world which is going the way of violence. 'It has failed to effectively address the new challenges to international peace and security. When we ask ourselves whether we have been able to prevent conflicts taking place in several parts of the world, the answer is 'no'. If we ask whether we were able to find permanent solution to these conflicts, the answer is 'no'. If we ask whether we were able to show the path of peace to a world which is going on the way of violence, the answer is 'no'.' She said that the world today is ravaged by war in three continents with the Security Council being 'unable or unwilling to stanch the flow of blood'. Traditional solutions that emphasize force, Swaraj said, have only proven to exacerbate problems. 'We must ask ourselves if we have the political will to craft alternatives to conflict and to pursue them with commitment and single-minded dedication,' she said. Earlier, bluntly calling Pakistan a 'prime sponsor of terrorism,' India today strongly hit back at Islamabad, asserting de-militarising Kashmir is not the answer for achieving peace but 'deterrorising' Pakistan is as it uses terror as a 'legitimate instrument' of its statecraft. India also urged Pakistan for 'early vacation' of Pak occupied Kashmir(PoK). New Delhi's unequivocal response came shortly after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raised Kashmir issue in his address to the UN General Assembly (UNGA), terming its non-resolution as a failure of the world body, and proposed a 4-point 'peace initiative' with India which includes demilitarisation of Kashmir. Sharif had also said Pakistan is the 'primary victim' of terrorism. 'In truth, it(Pakistan) is actually a victim of its own policies of breeding and sponsoring terrorists. The heart of the matter is a state that regards the use of terrorism as a legitimate instrument of statecraft. 'The world watches with concern as its consequences have spread beyond its immediate neighbourhood,' First Secretary in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN Abhishek Singh said in a sharp retort exercising India's Right of Reply during the General Debate of 70th session of UNGA. Separately, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup in his response through a series of tweet said, 'To de-militarise Kashmir is not the answer, to de-terrorise Pakistan is.' 'Pakistan is not primary victim of terrorism but of its own policies. It is in fact the prime sponsor of terrorism.' Swarup further tweeted that Pakistan's 'instability arises from its breeding of terrorists. Blaming neighbours is not a solution.' Reacting to Sharif's remarks that 'Palestinians and Kashmiris (are) oppressed by foreign occupation', Swarup said the 'Pak PM gets foreign occupation right, occupier wrong. We urge early vacation of Pak occupied Kashmir.' Sharif had equated Kashmir with Palestine while talking about 'suffering of Muslims across the world', saying 'Palestinians and Kashmiris (are) oppressed by foreign occupation.' Abhishek Singh also hit out at Pakistan on this issue, asserting that the 'occupier in question is Pakistan.' He also asserted that on each occasion, it is India that has extended the hand of friendship. 'India remains open even today to engage Pakistan on outstanding issues in an atmosphere free of terrorism and violence,' he added. 'All of us stand prepared to help, if only the creators of this monster wake up to the dangers of what they have done to themselves,' Singh said, adding that Pakistan was seeking to mask its activities as though an outcome of domestic discontent in Jammu and Kashmir carries no credibility with the world. On Sharif's remarks that Jammu and Kashmir is under foreign occupation, Singh said the 'occupier in question is Pakistan.' On Sharif's reference to ceasefire violations and exchanges of fire along the Line of Control and the International Boundary, Singh said the world knows that the 'primary reason for firing is to provide cover to terrorists crossing the border. 'It needs no imagination to figure out which side initiates this exchange,' he said. He added that it is not uncommon for states, when confronted with serious challenges, to shift responsibility on others. 'That is the case with Pakistan and terrorism, reflecting the inability to recognise that this is a home grown problem that has begun to bite the hand that fed it. We agree that terrorism has underlying causes - in this case, poverty of wisdom and ignorance of consequences,' he said. He also pointed out that India's reservations about the proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor stem from the fact that it passes through Indian territory 'illegally occupied' by Pakistan for many years. On Sharif saying that the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir remains unresolved and that dialogue has not progressed, Singh said 'this is because Pakistan has chosen to disregard its commitments, whether it was under the 1972 Simla Agreement, the 2004 Joint Declaration forswearing terrorism, or more recently, the understanding between our two Prime Ministers at Ufa'. Singh asserted that on each occasion, it is India that has extended the hand of friendship. 'India remains open even today to engage Pakistan on outstanding issues in an atmosphere free of terrorism and violence,' he said. Earlier Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup had also reacted sharply to Sharif's remarks. Sharif had used the podium of the UN General Assembly to propose a four-point peace initiative with India, which includes steps to demilitarize Kashmir and an unconditional mutual withdrawal from Siachen Glacier. Asked about four initiatives raised by Sharif, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup told reporters to wait for External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's address to the General Assembly today. 'We have extended repeatedly our hand of friendship to Pakistan. But at the same time, we have said that any cross border provocation will also be responded to,' he said.