‘No Justification for Any Act of Terrorism’: Jaishankar Says India Firmly Advocates ‘Zero-tolerance’ Approach | Highlights

External affairs minister S Jaishankar at the UN said India was firm on a “zero tolerance approach” to cross-border terrorism having borne the brunt for decades echoing New Delhi’s stern reaction to Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s “false accusations” on the Kashmir issue during his speech a day before.

“Having borne the brunt of cross-border terrorism for decades, India firmly advocates a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach. In our view, there is no justification for any act of terrorism, regardless of motivation. And no rhetoric, however sanctimonious, can ever cover up bloodstains. UN responds to terrorism by sanctioning its perpetrators,” Jaishankar said at the 77th high-level session of the UN General Assembly on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, in its ‘right of reply’ India had called out Sharif for “making false accusations against India” during his address at the UNGA on Friday. In a stern message, first secretary of the Indian Mission to the UN, Mijito Vinito slammed Pakistan for sheltering terrorists behind the “horrific 26/11 Mumbai attacks” and accused it of sponsoring cross-border terrorism.

In a signal to Pakistan and its all-weather ally China, which spoke earlier about “upholding peace” as a solution to global challenges, Jaishankar said countries who defended proclaimed terrorists in the UN neither advanced their own interests nor their reputation. This was a strong but veiled attack against the two countries, which have on multiple occasions blocked bids and proposals by India and its allies to designate Pakistan-based terrorists under the 1267 sanctions regime of the UN Security Council.

Jaishankar held numerous meetings with other world leaders and representatives on the sidelines of the UNGA, including a bilateral meet with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov just before his speech. On the Ukraine conflict, Jaishankar said India was on the side of peace — a stand reflected in India’s previous dealings with the issue on a global platform having not publicly condemned Russia like many other countries. Russia and India share age-old bilateral ties, which was also visible when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a face-to-face meeting with president Vladimir Putin.

“As Ukraine conflict continues to rage, we’re asked whose side we’re on… India is on the side of peace… We’re on the side that calls for dialogue… it’s in our collective interest to work both within UN and outside to find an early resolution to this conflict,” Jaishankar said, in many ways mirroring Prime Minister Modi’s advice to Putin at the SCO Summit that this was “not the era of war”.

Here are highlights from Jaishankar’s speech, a perfect blend of his interactions at the UN over the past few days:

  1. On terrorism: External affairs minister S Jaishankar said those who politicised the UNSC 1267 Sanctions regime, sometimes even to the extent of defending proclaimed terrorists, did so at their own peril. “The United Nations responds to terrorism by sanctioning its perpetrators. Those who politicise the UNSC 1267 Sanctions regime, sometimes even to the extent of defending proclaimed terrorists, do so at their own peril. Believe me, they advance neither their own interests nor indeed their reputation,” he said. Bids by India, US and other western allies to blacklist Pakistan-based terrorists under the UNSC sanctions regime have been blocked and put on hold on different occasions by Islamabad’s all-weather ally and veto wielding permanent member China in the 15-nation body. This month, China put a hold on a proposal moved at the UN by the US and co-supported by India to designate Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Sajid Mir, wanted for his involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, as a global terrorist.
  2. On Ukraine: India reiterated its stand on peaceful dialogue and diplomacy as key to resolve the Ukraine conflict, which began after Russia invaded its neighbour on February 24. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the SCO Summit, had asserted that India believed in a peaceful resolution and was concerned about ongoing conflict. “As the Ukraine conflict continues to rage, we are often asked whose side we are on. And our answer, each time, is straight and honest. India is on the side of peace and will remain firmly there. We are on the side that respects the UN Charter and its founding principles. We are on the side that calls for dialogue and diplomacy as the only way out. We are on the side of those struggling to make ends meet, even as they stare at escalating costs of food, fuel and fertilisers. It is, therefore, in our collective interest to work constructively, both within the UN and outside, in finding an early resolution to this conflict.”
  3. On ‘New India’: The foreign minister said India was “confident” under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi. “Its agenda for our centenary will be achieved through the five pledges that we committed to on Independence Day… We are resolved to make India a developed country in the next 25 years… We will liberate ourselves from a colonial mindset,” he added. Jaishankar began his speech at the UNGA by conveying the greetings of “1.3 billion plus people from the world’s largest democracy”. Talking about the session’s theme, ‘A watershed moment: Transformative solutions to interlocking challenges’, he said 2022 was an important milestone in India’s journey towards growth, development and prosperity. “We’re celebrating 75 years of India’s independence… Story of that period is of toil, determination and enterprise of millions of Indians. They’re rejuvenating society pillaged by centuries of foreign attacks, colonialism and doing so in a democratic framework,” he added.
  4. On global good: Jaishankar further talked about India’s Covid vaccine initiative that had aided over 100 nations and helped in evacuation operations in HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) situations. “Even as we meet our own development targets, India offers partnerships to our brothers and sisters in Asia, Africa and Latin America. And we do so based on their needs and priorities. Today, that focus is on green growth, better connectivity, digital delivery and accessible health. Our solidarity is not just words; you can see them in 700 projects across the world,” he said, adding repercussions of the ongoing Ukraine conflict had heightened economic stresses, especially on food and energy while climate events added to the disruptions.
  5. On India’s five pledges: Jaishankar said India had made five pledges on its 75th Independence Day: “One, we are resolved to make India a developed country in the next 25 years (global good)… Two, we will liberate ourselves from a colonial mindset (reformed multilateralism and global governance)… Three, our rich civilisational heritage will be a source of pride and strength (concern for environment)… Four, we will promote greater unity and solidarity (coming together on global issues such as terrorism, pandemics or environment)… Five, instilling consciousness of duties and responsibilities.”
  6. On neighbours: Jaishankar said India has had to contend with other challenges, especially in its own neighbourhood as some have been aggravated by the Covid pandemic and ongoing conflicts; but “they speak of a deeper malaise”. “The accumulation of debt in fragile economies is of particular concern. We do so when we sent 50,000 MT of wheat and medicines, vaccines to Afghanistan. We extend credits of $3.8 billion to Sri Lanka for fuel, essential commodities, trade settlement. We supplied 10,000 MT of food aid, vaccine shipments to Myanmar,” he said.
  7. On Global South: The foreign minister pointed out that while India was prepared to take up greater responsibilities, it sought at the same time to ensure that the injustice faced by the Global South was addressed. “As we saw in the case of the Covid pandemic, the South will be most impacted, even if the immediate causes are well beyond. It is imperative that global conversations recognise this unfairness… India’s steadfast commitment to South-South Cooperation is well established. Our approach is based on principles of mutual respect and national ownership with a commitment to sustainable development for all,” he said, adding that as India began the G20 presidency in December, it was sensitive to challenges faced by developing countries. “India will work with other G20 members to address serious issues of debt, economic growth, food and energy security and, particularly, environment,” he said.
  8. On climate action and justice: Jaishankar said in its pursuit of climate action and justice, India had worked with partners on the International Solar Alliance, the One Sun-One World-One Grid initiative and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. “We stand ready to support any collective and equitable endeavour to protect our environment and to further global wellness. ‘Lifestyle for Environment’ or LiFE, as declared by PM Modi in Glasgow on the sidelines of COP26 is our homage to ‘Mother Nature’. India remains deeply committed to fighting climate change under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement,” he added.

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