(From Press Trust of India)

After India asked Pakistan to “give up terrorism” and sit for talks, Islamabad said the “core” issue of Jammu and Kashmir will always be on top of the agenda of any bilateral dialogue.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj speaks at the UN Thursday
Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj speaks at the UN  General Assembly

It alleged that India was using the “terrorism bogey” to stall dialogue. Pakistan also blamed India for the unrest and terror on its soil, saying it has handed over to UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon dossiers in this regard.

Pakistan exercised its Right of Reply to respond to Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s address at the UN General Assembly Thursday in which she had said that instead of the four-point peace initiative proposed by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, it should address just “one issue” of giving up terrorism.

“Using the terrorism bogey, India has not only stalled the bilateral dialogue but also vitiated the overall atmosphere between the two countries,” Counselor in Pakistan’s Permanent Mission to the UN Bilal Ahmad alleged.

“The core issue of Jammu and Kashmir cannot be cast aside by empty rhetoric. It has been and will always be on top of the agenda of any talks between India and Pakistan …. It is therefore disingenuous of India to ignore the serious peace initiative proposed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan from this august forum,” he said.

The dossiers Pakistan handed over to the UN Secretary-General contained details such as alleged “Indian interference and support for terrorism in Baluchistan and Karachi as well as its security and intelligence agencies’ link with the Tehrike-e-Taliban especially in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas).

Swaraj, referring to Pakistan, told the UN General Assembly Thursday that “none of us can accept that terrorism is a legitimate instrument of statecraft.”

International terrorism can only be defeated by organized international action. The world must demonstrate that it has zero tolerance for terrorists who kill and maim innocent civilians with action based on the principle of prosecute or extradite.

“Member states must undertake their obligations to investigate and prosecute those who are alleged to have supported terrorism,” Swaraj said.

At the same time, she asserted that an international legal regime, under the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, “can no longer be held up, nor can we be held hostage by seeking to define terrorism when the General Assembly in 2006 adopted the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy unanimously.”

Targeting the UN on its 70th anniversary, she said it “appears as an ineffective institution” when gauged on the parameters of whether it has been able to prevent conflicts, find permanent solution to them or show the path of peace to an increasingly violent world.