By Arul Louis
United Nations, Oct 4 (IANS) India has dismissed Pakistan’s latest provocation at the General Assembly by raising surgical strikes and Kashmir as a waste of time “symbolic of what holds us all back”.
Pakistan Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi’s remarks about India on Tuesday were “a lonely voice from the wilderness”, said Eenam Gambhir, a First Secretary in India’s UN Mission.
“My delegation does not wish to waste the precious time of this august assembly in further engaging with such distractions,” Gambhir said in a short 45-second rejoinder even though she was entitled to 10 minutes to exercise her right of reply.
During the debate in the General Assembly on the annual report on UN’s work, Lodhi went off topic and denied that India carried out any surgical strike against Pakistan while accusing New Delhi of trying to provoke a conflict by “falsely” claiming it had carried out the operation and threatening more attacks.
“By making such false claims and blatant threats, are India’s leaders attempting to provoke a conflict with Pakistan,” she asked and added that the threats gave “Pakistan sufficient reason to respond in exercise of its right to self-defense”.
Lodhi’s statement appeared to be a response to Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s warning to Islamabad last month around the anniversary of the 2016 surgical strike against terrorists inside Pakistani-held territory who had killed 18 Indian soldiers in a cross-border attack.
“The strikes were more of a message we wanted to convey and these things could follow if need be,” Rawat had said.
Lodhi harped on its usual fall-back issue, Kashmir, asserting that India was carrying out daily ceasefire violations along the line of control (LOC) to divert attention from “its crimes against the Kashmiri people.”
“Even while we have heard speakers address concerns of the present and the future, you have heard a lonely voice from the wilderness articulate a narrative of the past,a Gambhir said. “It is focused on a topic that is not even been deliberated for decades at the UN, an issue which that delegation tries to keep alive by procedural stratagems even while the world has moved on.”
“Yesterday’s people reflecting antiquated mindsets of the bygone times are symbolic of what holds us all back,” she added.
During last month’s high-level meeting of the General Assembly Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbas brought up the Kashmir issue, but it was ignored by all the other 192 nations.
Lodhi’s rejoinder to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj calling Pakistan “world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity” brought ridicule when the diplomat held up the picture of an injured Palestinian girl claiming she was a Kashmiri.
Sa’ad Warraich, a counsellor at the Pakistani Mission who replied to Gambhir, repeated the assertion that Kashmir did not belong to India and was a disputed territory.
“Much as some may believe, repeating groundless accusations and fabrications do not lend them credibility,” he said.
Gambhir goes on the offensive when India is attacked at the General Assembly and delivers biting zingers.
She was in the limelight last year when took on former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and delivered the memorable line: “The land of Taxila, one of the greatest learning centres of ancient times, is now host to the Ivy League of terrorism.”
Last month in a rejoinder to Abbasi, she said,”Pakistan is now ‘Terroristan'”.
(Arul Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)