Divided At United Nations

India and Pakistan have once again repeated their annual ritual of abusing each other at the United Nations. This time the level of vitriol was the worst in years. Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj blamed Pakistan for the terror in the region and for glorifying killers. In one of the most scathing attacks on the neighbour, Swaraj said Pakistan was an expert not just in spawning grounds for terrorism but also in its attempts to “mask malevolence with verbal duplicity”. She  described Pakistan “as a defender of inhuman behaviour, not of human rights”. Swaraj also rubbed it in that  Pakistan had given safe heaven to Osama bin Laden. 

In response, Pakistan was equally unsparing in its attack. Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi  accused India of being actively involved in the terrorist attacks in Pakistan by providing financial assistance to the extremists. Qureshi said Pakistan will never forget  the children killed in the 2014 Army Public School (APS) massacre and Mustang attack. He said that Kulbhushan Yadav, on the behest of the Indian government, planned terror attacks inside Pakistan.
The bitter exchange between the two countries was taken forward by their junior diplomats at the UN. In a no-holds barred attack, Indian diplomat Eenam Gambhir said Pakistan was home to 132 UN-designated terror groups. And Pakistan retaliated by raking up RSS, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Assam National Register of Citizens. Exercising the Right of Reply, Warraich Saad Warraich  accused the RSS, BJP’s ideological mentor, of supporting the spread of fascism through its centres.  

If anything the exchange has once again underlined the abysmal state of relationship between the two countries. Going forward things look set to worsen further.  More so, with India looking forward to general elections next year and a hostile approach towards Pakistan is seen as greatly helpful in mobilizing the people.  One can already see that the anti-Pakistan rhetoric in the country has become shriller in recent past.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Mann ki Baat has made it clear that India’s armed forces will strike back in case of a provocation. The statement followed shortly after the home minister Rajnath Singh in a statement cryptically said “something big has happened on the other side” obviously meaning that India has avenged the recent killing of a jawan  on the border.

Pakistan has warned of a response in case India violates the border.  This has created a fraught situation which if not addressed could drift the two countries towards yet another violent confrontation. And this would be a tragedy. It is important for the two capitals to maintain their cool and take steps to manage the current bitterness in their relationship. In the absence of the dialogue, the leaders of the two countries can ill-afford to vitiate the environment by issung threatening statements essentially designed to play to their respective people.  Their people deserve better than this.

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