Indian Women Leave Sharif
INDIAN WOMEN have managed to severely and mortifyingly dent the credibility of the Prime Minister of a Pakistan at the leading global forum, the United Nations General Assembly. India fielded External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to make its policy statement September 26 in the high level segment of the 71st session of the UNGA. In a statesman- like fashion, she said India’s primary objective was to remove poverty and aid development of its people, and outlined its positive contributions towards the world body’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Stressing India’s much larger and infinitely more diverse agenda, Mrs Swaraj laid out the specific initiatives her government had taken to promote gender parity, remove poverty, promote health, education and skills and provide employment, while encouraging cleanliness and coping with climate change. She also officially announced that India would ratify the Paris Climate Change Agreement on October 2, the birth anniversary of global peace and sustainable development icon Mahatma Gandhi. The positive benefits of Yoga found mention in her address, as one among the many positive contributions India
has made to the world.
She then turned to the extremely negative and destructive influences that terrorism has wrought the world over, and sought universal isolation of such influences while highlighting how much of terrorist activity, including funding and arming terrorists, emanated from Pakistan. In a few rhetorical flourishes, she showed up Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for the hollowness and indeed, untruths, behind his entire set of allegations, and showed him to be seeking a land grab. Her unequivocal denunciation of Pakistan’s attempts to grab the territory of Jammu and Kashmir and to “stop daydreaming about capturing J&K, an integral part of India” appeared to hit home, as Pakistan scrambled to field a woman (Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan PR to the UN) to call the Indian external affairs minister’s statements “a pack of lies” with no substantiation.
A few days before Mrs Swaraj took the stage, another Indian woman was chosen to respond to Mr Sharif’s entirely India-centric diatribe, which passed for an address to the UNGA on September 21. The global forum witnessed how a young Indian diplomat, in less than three minutes, managed to demolish the Pak Premier’s bluster.
India chose Eenam Gambhir, a young woman diplomat posted as First Secretary at its permanent mission to the UN, to deliver the first response to Pak PM Sharif’s address at the General Assembly that dwelt only on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. It was a well thought out choice and, for India, it worked very well.
Gambhir, who delivered the riposte when India exercised its “right of reply,” termed described Mr Sharif’s speech as “a long tirade,” and demolished the Pak Premier’s critique by reminding those present that India’s neighbour played host to “the Ivy League of terrorism.” Quietly, without any rhetorical flourishes and in language that would resonate with the host nation the USA, Gambhir, who is no stranger to Pakistan, having served a year in the Pakistan division of the MEA in New Delhi, said, “It is ironical that we have seen today the preaching of human rights and ostensible support for self-determination by a country which has established itself as the global epicentre of terrorism.”
“The worst violation of human rights is terrorism. When practiced as an instrument of state policy it is a war crime,” said Gambhir who was chosen to deliver the riposte after Sharif’s diatribe by Syed Akbaruddin, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Sources told India Strategic that Gambhir, who came to New York just several months ago, was asked to draft a reply. The reply was intended to “skilfully use language to demonstrate the facts to counter the Pakistani Premier,” a source told India Strategic.
Recalling the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks in the USA, the young diplomat from New Delhi said, “Only last week, the international community honoured the memory of thousands of innocent victims from around the world, who lost their lives not far from here in New York fifteen years ago in a most horrifying terror attack. “The world has not yet forgotten that the trail of that dastardly attack led all the way to Abbottabad in Pakistan.”
“What my country and our other neighbours are facing today is Pakistan’s long-standing policy of sponsoring terrorism, the consequences of which
have spread well beyond our region.”
Her most devastating statement, delivered with quiet ease, spoke of how “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,” she said adding, “The effects of its toxic curriculum are felt across the globe.”
The choice of imagery left no one in doubt of the complete contrast presented by the two subcontinental neighbours.
The riposte to Mr Sharif was vetted by Akbaruddin and sent on to Sujata Mehta, Secretary in the Ministry, for fine-tuning, before being approved by Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s Foreign Secretary, for delivery. Gambhir completed her demolition exercise in less than three minutes, well within her allocated time for responding.
Elaborating and laying out the context, Gambhir informed the UNGA that “shortly before Pakistan gave its hypocritical sermons in this august house today, its envoy in New Delhi was summoned in the context of the most recent of the terror attacks in Uri that claimed 18 Indian lives. That terrorist attack is part of a trail of continuous flow of terrorists trained and armed by our neighbour and tasked to carry out terrorist attacks in my country.”
Even more embarrassing for Islamabad was the linkage she established between funds given as aid to that country being diverted to terrorist activity in Pakistan. For Pakistan, severely strapped for aid and development funds, the linkage could further curtail funding. The United States Congress has already placed severe cuts on aid to Pakistan. “What we see in Pakistan, Mr President, is a terrorist state, which channelises billions of dollars, much of it diverted from international aid, to training, financing and supporting terrorist groups as militant proxies against its neighbours,” Gambhir said. Hitting home with Pakistan’s refusal or inability to rein in terrorists, the Indian diplomat said, “Terrorist entities and their leaders, including many designated by the UN, continue to roam its streets freely and operate with State support. With the approval of authorities, many terrorist organisations raise funds openly in flagrant violation of Pakistan’s international obligations.”
Directly targeting and shredding the Pakistani Premier’s statements, she said, “Even today we have heard support by the Prime Minister of Pakistan for a self-acknowledged commander of a known terrorist organisation Hizbul Mujahideen.”
“Pakistan is a country with a democracy deficit,” she reminded the global community.” In fact it practices terrorism on its own people. It extends support to extremist groups, it suppresses minorities and women and denies basic human rights including through draconian laws,” she said. “As a democracy India is firmly resolved to protect all our citizens from all acts of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. We cannot and will not allow terrorism to prevail,” Gambhir categorically said.
“Finally, Mr President, we have heard Pakistan, whose nuclear proliferation record is marked by deception and deceit, talking about restraint, renunciation and peace,” Gambhir stated, pointedly targeting the one area of great Pakistani pride and bluster. “Similar false promises it has made to us - the international community – on terrorism.”
“Perhaps renunciation of lies and self- restraint on threats could be a
good place for Pakistan to start,” she said, shredding the Pakistani argument in language that would show them up for being the world’s leading nuclear weapons and terrorism proliferators (NWTP).
Gambhir, who has studied in the University of Geneva and now lives in New York, became a star overnight, with her quiet delivery of a stinging attack on the Prime Minister of Pakistan leaving all those who heard her, in awe.
The relatively low-profile diplomat’s clear and crisp statement— carefully vetted by senior Indian diplomats — made a mockery of Mr Sharif’s address. “The way the message is delivered is as important as the content of the speech,” said an official. The matter of fact delivery won Gambhir much praise.
“That was brilliant work by Team New York. It would have to have struck a chord immediately among Western diplomats if not a global audience,” said a foreign ministry official in New Delhi.
A Mathematics graduate from Delhi University’s Hindu College, Gambhir joined the Indian Foreign Service in 2005. Her colleagues describe her as sharp and hardworking. Her first posting was Madrid where she picked up proficiency in her chosen foreign language—Spanish. After a posting in the Indian mission in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Gambhir returned home to be assigned to the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran desk, considered one of the crucial divisions in the Indian foreign ministry. After a year’s sabbatical in Geneva, Gambhir was assigned to the Permanent Mission of India in New York where she looks after disarmament, international security, UN Security Council reform and counter-terrorism issues.
Ms Gambhir believes in social change, loves art and heritage.
(left to right) External Affairs Minister sushma swaraj delivers Speech at 71st UNGA at New York; Pakistan prime minister nawaz sharif and Eenam Gambhir, India’s First Secretary to UN