External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s riposte to Pakistan raising the Kashmir issue at the United Nations last week was the coup de grace in a chain of events that showed the world where the most trouble comes from in the Indian subcontinent. Ms Swaraj’s speech, full of allegories on India’s development in education, science and IT, in contrast to its stark lack of it across the border, shouldn’t be seen in isolation but as part of a chain in which Pakistan was at the receiving end. US President Donald Trump, speaking earlier, made an oblique reference to Pakistan as a provider of safe havens for terrorists, and China firmly rebuffed Pakistan saying Kashmir was a bilateral issue, and that only dialogue and communication could help resolve it. In raising Kashmir again at the UN through new PM Shahid Abbasi, and seeking an inquiry into India’s alleged human rights violations, Pakistan was trying to breathe life into a 70-year-old bogey all over again.
The attacks through proxies in the Valley resumed the day after the UN speeches and rebuttals, clearly showing nothing will change on the ground. The minister’s speech, and that by the young Indian diplomat earlier, is in a sense a replay of the annual bash at the General Assembly, long reduced to a toothless tiger as conflicts rage worldwide. India scored brownie points through a calibrated attack on Pakistan in what was finally just a little more sophisticated than a college debate. This may sound repetitive but Pakistan never seems to get it that, having agreed to bilateral talks in the Shimla Agreement and Lahore Declaration, it is duty bound not to raise Kashmir at the UN decades after its accession to India. Where Ms Swaraj excelled was making what was a point-scoring speech appear an evolved argument that shed light on history.
So shrill has the issue of terror and Pakistan as a unique “Terroristan” haven become that India seems to have forgotten its larger international role, and its duty to help resolve the greater concerns of the planet. Much else of what the minister said may have been drowned in the rhetoric on Pakistan’s terror factories. Even so, what she said were not non-sequiturs as she spoke of United Nations Security Council reform and climate change. There may not be too much progress in tackling global warming, however, unless the promised sums from the developed world do materialise. She did, however, goad all countries by noting that hurricanes and earthquakes were striking as the UN General Assembly was meeting.