In­dian Women Leave Sharif

Sharif UN-cov­ered

India Strategic - - CONTENTS - By Nilova Roy Chaud­hury

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

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