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Flustered Pakistan rants about Indian response

By Aziz Haniffa at the United Nations
Last updated on: September 26, 2003 12:21 IST
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The success enjoyed by India in putting forward its position on terrorism during the debate at the United Nations General Assembly has clearly flustered Pakistan.

The consternation it has caused in the Pakistani camp was visible on Thursday when that country's Permanent Representative to the UN Munir Akram responded to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's address in strong terms, a diplomatic equivalent of abusive and foul language.

Complete coverage of Vajpayee's visit

One long-time journalist, who's been covering the UN for decades, told that in all of his years and being privy to some of the most heated debates between India and Pakistan, he had never heard of such invective.

Vajpayee during his address had termed Musharraf's offer of cessation of violence in Kashmir as an admission of sponsoring terrorism.

Akram, using the UN's provision of a right of reply, said, "The response from the Indian prime minister was sadly disappointing. Disappointing for Pakistan and I am sure disappointing for the international community."

"By his negative response," he claimed, "we have lost another opportunity to bring peace in South Asia. Instead, Pakistan's offer of help to promote a cessation of hostilities within Indian occupied Kashmir was sadly misconstrued and misinterpreted by the distinguished Prime Minister of India as an admission of guilt."

"This is preposterous. The Kashmir struggle is between India and the Kashmiri people. Eighty thousand Kashmiris have been killed in Kashmir, by the over 700,000 Indian occupation forces. Thus, Kashmiris are buried in their graveyards of Kashmir, not in Pakistan," he claimed

"India wants the killings to continue because it believes that even now after 12 years of failed suppression that it can cow down the Kashmiris to give up their struggle for liberty," he alleged

"But" continued Akram, "India, like all other colonial oppressors of the past is mistaken surely. Kashmir will be free one day."

He claimed the dialogue Musharraf had proposed to India 'is a dialogue of for peace', and not a 'favour to Pakistan'.

"It is the only mechanism envisaged by our charter to promote the easing of tensions and the resolution of conflict. Sadly, the Indian prime minister rejected this reasonable offer for peace," he said

Dabbling freely in the internal affairs of India, Akram then launched diatribe against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

He said Vajpayee's rejection of Musharraf's offer reflected 'the negative stance' of the BJP.

"The purpose of the so-called hard-line in New Delhi is designed to yield electoral gains for India's ruling party in the forthcoming elections," he alleged.

"The BJP's political strategy is borne out of its victory in the recent elections in Gujarat, where it gained popularity after state-managed massacre of 2,000 innocent Muslims. This is genocide being converted in the service of genocide," he claimed.

Akram said this was how democracy 'was perverted when fascists assume power'. "It was the party which destroyed the Babri Mosque -- the great citadel of Muslim culture of India," he said.

He then went to claim the BJP had threatened to destroy 3,000 other mosques. "A leader of the fascist Shiv Sena -- Bal Thackarey-- recently called for the formation of groups to commit terrorist acts against Pakistan and the Muslims of India. He is still running free," Akram alleged.

"While India continues to brutally suppress the Kashmiri freedom struggle, the Kashmiris have a right to Indian occupation by all means at their disposal," he claimed. "This struggle cannot be denigrated or described as terrorism."

"India knows all about terrorism," he claimed. "It is, to use a popular saying, the mother of terrorism," He also accused India of sponsoring terrorism in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

He claimed terrorist acts in Jammu and Kashmir were being perpetrated by 'renegade Kashmiris' trained by Indian intelligence.

"It is our hope that despite Mr Vajpayee's statement today, cooler heads -- if there are any -- in New Delhi will reflect and come to the conclusion that dialogue is truly the only option, to resolve problems between India and Pakistan and they will respond positively to the offer made by the President of Pakistan," he concluded.

Indian delegation members, who were seen hurriedly writing down a response as Akram kept going with his vitriolic tirade, in their right of reply to the right of reply, said, "With each year in this forum, Pakistan exposes the limitations of its ability to conduct itself in a responsible and forward-looking manner."

Harsh Singla, counsellor at the Permanent Mission of India, reading the quickly drafted statement, said, "We regarded the UN General Assembly as a forum for offering views and not one for resorting to abuse."

"Pakistan continues to be the epicentre of terrorism despite its protestations, which come easily to a country whose foreign policy has relied traditionally on camouflage and double-speak. The international community is beginning to discover and acknowledge this with the resurgence of Taliban activity in Afghanistan," he said.

"Pakistan has been making desperate efforts to create political fiction about its anti-terrorist credentials. This is not surprising for a country whose history and policies have been rooted in political fiction," he added.

"In our experience, Pakistan's combat against international terrorism is based on one per cent intentions and 99 percent pretensions. This ratio needs to be reversed if Pakistan expects us to take its commitment to end cross-border terrorism against India seriously," Singla said.

"We would like to remind Pakistan that they cannot hope to pursue the goal of 'enlightened moderation' without demonstrating some sign of moderate enlightenment while dealing with serious issues of peace and stability," he added.

"As we do not wish to reciprocate Pakistan's diplomacy of abuse and hate, we would not take up further issue with the egregious comments of the representative of Pakistan," he said.

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Aziz Haniffa at the United Nations