While Swaraj started off on a rather positive note, highlighting India’s exceptional achievements in the fields of education, public hygiene, and economic and social development and climate change combat, she soon went on to address the issue of terrorism – the one global threat against which the world must unite.
While on the subject she also quickly moved on to Pakistan, insinuating that it was one of the countries where terrorists roamed freely and launched their violent ideologies from. Making references to all the efforts India has taken to restore peace in the subcontinent, she shredded Pakistan’s accusations of human rights violations. She also touched upon Pakistan’s unceasing cross-border terrorist attacks and ambitions to seize Kashmir. Swaraj raised an important question – who sponsors terrorists?
Urging the assembly to adopt the CCIT proposed by India in 1996 and to unite in an effort to combat the “scourge” of terrorism, Swaraj took the opportunity to seek an urgent expansion of the UN Security Council and make it a more inclusive and relevant platform.
Quotes from MEA Sushma Swaraj’s Speech at the UNGA
- There are enough resources on this planet to fulfill everyone’s needs, but not enough to fulfill anyone’s greed.
- Terrorism is undoubtedly the biggest violation of human rights. It targets the innocent and kills indiscriminately…it is a crime against humanity itself.
- If we want to defeat terrorism, there is only one way – that we unite across our differences, add steel to our resolve and inject urgency in our response.
- In our midst, there are nations that still speak the language of terrorism, that nurture it, peddle it, and export it. To shelter terrorists has become their calling card. We must identify these nations and hold them to account.
- The Prime Minister of Pakistan used this podium to make baseless allegations about human rights violations in my country. I can only say that those accusing others of human rights violations would do well to introspect and see what egregious abuses they are perpetrating in their own country, including in Balochistan.
- It (Pakistan) persists in the belief that such attacks will enable it to obtain the territory it covets. My firm advice to Pakistan is: abandon this dream. Let me state unequivocally that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always remain so.
- We took the initiative to resolve issues not on the basis of conditions, but on the basis of friendship…And what did we get in return? Pathankot, Bahadur Ali, and Uri?
- We need a more contemporary approach to combating terrorism; we also need a less outdated Security Council that continues to reflect the world order of an earlier era.
- The 21st century has begun in the shadow of turmoil, but we can turn this into a golden age in the history of civilization through united and concerted efforts. But what happens tomorrow will depend on what we do today.
Why did Sushma Swaraj address the UNGA in Hindi?
There is no doubt that Swaraj delivered a stinging response to the Pakistan PM, Nawaz Sharif’s United Nations General Assembly speech. What came as a surprise, however, is that the entire speech was delivered completely in Hindi. The reason for such a vernacular address on a global platform was probably a well thought out one. Apart from the fact that Swaraj’s speech was one of the most awaited and covered (by the media) back home, it was also a direct address to the government and people of Pakistan, who largely understand Hindi. India has been rather reluctant to discuss the Kashmir issue in international platforms, but the issue of terrorism is a global one. It is perhaps to strike a balance, that the vernacular was adopted by the minister.
MEA attracts high praise…
The Twitterati burst out in robust applause following the Minister’s speech at the 71st UNGA. The government drew great appreciation for the firm stand it took in front of a global audience. The PM congratulated Swaraj with a tweet that said: “Congrats to EAM @SushmaSwaraj for a firm, effective & fine articulation of a wide range of global issues at UNGA.” Rajyavardhan Rathore, Ingormation & Broadcasting Minister for state, said, “EAM brought it out clearly, Pak should stop day dreaming & look at human rights violations in their territory.” Leading journalist, Shekhar Gupta tweeted, “Wonderfully calm, mature, firm yet understated. So trademark @SushmaSwaraj Pakistan dealt with en passant, essentials stated in a few lines.”
In a pleasant surprise, a number of opposition leaders also showered her with praises. Delhi CM, Arvind Kejriwal said, “Sushma ji presented India’s viewpoint very well at UNGA. Congratulations to her.”
Another leading AAP politician, Kumar Vishwas tweeted, “Daring voice of Indian Pride in #UNGA #SushmaSwaraj Di One of the finest orator of Indian Politics.”
… And some criticism
In a country like India, it seems quite impossible for political parties to unite in the interest of nationalism, even against an external threat. Predictably, Swaraj did attract some criticism from Congress ranks. “They have not attempted in any way to deal on the ground with concrete actions. Some attempts have been made to isolate Pakistan globally, but that’s not enough,” said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
The criticism was not unanimous, though, and leading Congress politician called the speech “well-crafted and well written”.
Even BJP ally, Shiv Sena took an adverse stand. Party Sanjay Raut said, “Nothing will happen by giving speeches at UN. We can’t even name Pakistan. Why? Nawaz Sharif names us.”
Trailer better than climax
A comparison between Sushma Swaraj’s UNGA address and the short, crisp reply delivered by the first secretary at the Permanent Mission of India in New York, Eenam Gambhir, was inevitable.
It may have been the youth of 2005-batch IFS officer, Gambhir, it may have been the scathing 511-word reply itself, or it may have been the uncharacteristic nature of India’s move to lash out in response at a global forum – whatever the reason, the world at large was certainly delighted.
Within hours of Nawaz Sharif’s accusations against India, Gambhir took the floor to exercise India’s Right to Reply at the UN. The statement was a crisp one, but had been carefully drafted by senior diplomats. Gambhir ripped apart Pakistan’s accusations and left the world in no doubt about the source of terror in South Asia.
About Pakistan, she said, “The land of Taxila, one of the greatest learning centres of ancient times, is now host to the Ivy League of terrorism. It attracts aspirants and apprentices from all over the world. The effects of its toxic curriculum are felt across the globe.” The fire power in Gambhir’s response seemed missing from Swaraj’s speech, though.
Brahamdagh Bugti, Balochistan’s exiled leader, was all praises for Swaraj’s speech and appreciated India’s support to Balochistan. Bugti added that he hoped India would keep raising the issue at global summits.
Along expected lines, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA ) was quick to criticise Swaraj’s speech. “Strange that Indian EAM disowns the UN SC resolutions and that too at the UN,” said an MoFA tweet. India was also criticized for raising the Kashmir issue at the Security Council and raising the issue of Balochistan.