Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj was swift and unequivocal in her takedown of Pakistan in her speech at the United Nations general assembly today.
Calling out Pakistan’s serial use of terror attacks in India and its role in inciting the worst violence in several years in Kashmir, the minister warned that Islamabad must “abandon this dream” about using terror attacks to “obtain territory it covets.” Ms Swaraj said, “Let me state unequivocally that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always remain so.”
Ms Swaraj’s speech was made days after Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif targeted India at the UN General Assembly, accusing it of human rights atrocities in Kashmir in the weeks after the killing of 22-year-old terrorist Burhan Wani, which triggered over two months of violent clashes between security forces and residents outraged by Wani’s death. India has accused Pakistan of inciting the riots that left nearly 90 dead and over 10,000 injured.
The Foreign Minister hurled criticism at Mr Sharif for his comments, and said that despite two years of an unprecedented outreach, India has been meted a series of deadly terror attacks by Pakistan, most recently at the army camp in Uri near the border in Kashmir, where 18 soldiers were killed just days ago.
Describing terror as “the biggest violation of human rights,” Ms Swaraj said that countries who promote and use it must be held accountable. India has launched a global campaign for Pakistan to be isolated after the Uri attack, which was the biggest setback for the military in Kashmir in nearly 15 years.
Mr Sharif has denied that the four terrorists who attacked the base were from Pakistan and told the United Nations that India has annexed unacceptable conditions for dialogue with his administration.
“What pre-conditions?” Ms Swaraj challenged today, her tone measured.
Ms Swaraj said as gestures of friendship, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited Mr Sharif to his oath-taking ceremony in 2014, has recently sent him Eid greeetings, and wished him after his heart surgery. “And what did we get in return? Pathankot, Bahadur Ali, and Uri,” she said, listing the terror strikes this month and at an air force base in January in which seven military personnel were killed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has declared that the attack on Uri “will not go unpunished” and accused Pakistan over the weekend of being “an exporter of terrorism.” Though his comments have signalled that he will not allow major military action, he is under pressure to deliver a strong response to the Uri attack. His strategy involves considering whether to dramatically reshape a decades-old treaty on how to share water from six rivers that flow through Punjab and Kashmir.