Sushma Swaraj accuses Pakistan of harbouring terrorists, glorifying killers at UN General Assembly

New York: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday slammed Pakistan at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, accusing it of harbouring terrorists and “masking malevolence with duplicity”.

Dismissing the neighbouring country’s charge that India was shying away from peace talks, Swaraj said it was impossible to speak to a nation where a proclaimed terrorist Hafiz Saeed roams freely. “We have not sabotaged negotiations with Pakistan. We began talks with them because we believed it was necessary. They were stalled only because of Pakistan’s own behaviour,” she said.

Sushma Swaraj recounted how Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited all heads of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to his swearing-in ceremony in 2014. “We have always preferred the peace option. Even after Imran Khan came to power in Pakistan, we accepted their request for talks. But within hours, they killed three of our policemen in Kashmir.”

The Union minister said, “Pakistan glorifies killers, refuses to see the blood of innocents, and then throws the dust of deceit on India to cover its own guilt.”

She also said, “We all hoped that the 21st century would be one of peace. But the 9/11 and 26/11 terror strikes occurred almost immediately afterwards.”

Sushma Swaraj also pointed out how al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was provided “safe haven” in Pakistan to allege its duplicity in fighting terror. “America declared Laden as its most dangerous enemy and launched a worldwide search. But he took sanctuary in a country that America believed was its friend and ally. The American intelligence found the truth about Pakistan, but it continued to behave like nothing had happened,” she said.

She expressed how measures to curb terrorism, including a draft document on the CCIT (Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism) proposed by India in 1996, have gone in vain. “Till today, that draft has remained a draft because we cannot agree on a common language. We want to fight terrorism on the one hand, but on the other, we cannot define it,” the Union Minister said, adding that the United Nations should come out with a unanimously accepted definition of terrorism to combat the menace.

However, Sushma Swaraj said it was “heartening” that the world was no longer ready to believe Pakistan. “Even the Financial Action Task Force has put it on notice over terror funding,” said Swaraj.