Pakistan has to take 'credible, verifiable' action on terror: Tirumurti
India's Permanent Representative T.S. Tirumurti has said that Pakistan has to take verifiable steps to ensure that any territory under its control is not used by terrorists
India's Permanent Representative T.S. Tirumurti has said that Pakistan has to take verifiable steps to ensure that any territory under its control is not used by terrorists if there is to be neighbourly relations between the two countries.
"I just wanted to say very clearly that India desires, normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan," Tirumurti said on Monday replying to a reporter's question about the relations between the neighbours.
Difference between the two countries "should be resolved in an atmosphere, which is free of terror, hostility and violence, and, therefore, right now the onus is on Pakistan to create such a conducive atmosphere, including by taking credible and verifiable action not to allow any territory under their control to be used for cross-border terrorism against India," he said.
"Pakistan must prove its consistency between its words and its actions," he added.
After leading the Security Council for the first time on Monday as its president, Tirumurti faced a volley of questions from the international press corps at the UN representing media from around the world on India's positions on a range of issues from Kashmir to the protection of journalists.
Declaring that it was the "sole prerogative" of India's parliament, he dismissed any challenges to the abrogation of Kashmir's special constitutional status in 2019, splitting the region and making it a union territory.
"These changes are within our Constitution, and these changes are entirely the prerogative of the Parliament of India," Tirumurti said in reply to a reporter's question about it.
"Jammu and Kashmir is an integral, an inalienable part of India. If anything needs to be changed, it is the vacation of the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir," he said.
"In fact, even the members of the Security Council, when this was brought up, I think, almost all of them agreed that this issue was not for the Council to discuss," he said.
China's two efforts during the past two years to bring up Kashmir at the Council were rebuffed by everyone else on the 15-member body.
"I just wanted to say very clearly that India, desires, normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan. And our consistent position on these issues is that if there are any issues between India and Pakistan, it should be resolved bilaterally and peacefully," Tirumurti declared.
He said that under the 1972 Simla agreement between India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was then Pakistan's president, the two countries agreed to resolve all differences bilaterally.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has referred to the agreement while speaking about Kashmir, he said.
"Since Pakistan has signed off on this, you will only hope that they will follow through on this, and implement the provisions of this agreement," he added.
Asked about the situation in Afghanistan, Tirumurti said that a resurgence of terrorism there will affect India and it should be prevented.
"Ties with international terrorism must be cut," he said. "We cannot have terrorist camps once again moving to Afghanistan and this will have a direct impact on India."
He called for international support for "accelerated" dialogue on the future governance of Afghanistan and said that the hope was that "there will be no military solution."
"Any government that comes to power in Afghanistan has to be seen as legitimate in the eyes of the people. So, consequently, we cannot have unilateral imposition of will, by any party," he added.
"A lasting political settlement leading to an inclusive Afghan-led an Afghan-owned and an Afghan-controlled process" was "important for us to protect the gains which we've had in the last nearly 20 years," he said.
"It is important for us as the Security Council to ensure that we jointly support Afghanistan, and bringing a democratic and a stable society, which will respect women and minorities," he added.
Tirumurti said that India was "deeply concerned about the developments in Myanmar" called for putting the neighbour back on the road to democracy.
Sharing a 1,700-kilometre border with India four of whose states about it, "Myanmar is extremely important for us and we have a direct stake in the situation in Myanmar," he said.
Outlining India's position, he said, "We have condemned the use of violence in Myanmar. We will urge maximum restraint. We believe that there can be no falling back on the path to democracy in Myanmar, and have called for upholding the rule of law, and taking forward the democratic process in which we have actually invested in, and we have called for the release of detained leaders."
Tirumurti denied that India was refusing to accept refugees from Myanmar and said that thousands had found refuge in India.
"It's important to understand that we have four states of India, which are neighbouring Myanmar, and in some of them ethnicities are the same," he said citing the example of Mizoram whose ethnicity is similar to that of the Chins across the border.
India's diplomacy has focused on dealing with global inequalities and inequities and it was one of the first countries to propose that the UN should take up the issue leading to the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Tirumurti said.
"India is at the forefront" of efforts for fostering equality between nations, he said, citing the various international development programmes New Delhi has initiated, especially for Africa and for small island countries and landlocked nations.
He said, "We have pledged more than $30 billion as lines of credit. We have had 1000s of training and capacity building slots, and we have done it all over the world."
He also mentioned India's Covid vaccine diplomacy that sent the vaccine to several countries.
Asked if Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be attending in person the UN High-Level meeting of the General Assembly next month. Tirumurti said that India was waiting to see how the meeting would shape up given the threat from the Covid-19 Delta variant.
"We still don't know how the contours of how the participation will shape up (for the meeting), to be very frank, because we are still looking at the Delta variants and others which are coming in," he added.
One of the problems in determining the level of in-person participation, he said was the differing levels of vaccination among countries and the travel logistics as those coming in from some countries may have to catch two or three connecting flights to New York.
Tirumurti took up the questions relating to India from journalists after outlining the Council's agenda for the month that was agreed upon earlier in the day.
He outlined three focus areas for India, for which New Delhi will hold special Council meetings.
These are a high-level event on maritime security which will be presided over by Modi next Monday; a session on protecting the peacekeepers, to be chaired by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on August 18 and another on terrorism the next day that he will also lead.
Here in a nutshell are some of the other issues that Tirumurti addressed in response to journalists' questions:
-- Protection of journalists: We have always stood by journalists, we are always stood by civil society and NGOs ... There has been a targeted attack on journalists and NGOs (in Afghanistan), but ... this is not just in Afghanistan; it is happening elsewhere. It's a matter of serious concern so there is no question that this (protection of journalists) should be addressed in a very purposeful manner.
-- Iran nuclear agreement (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to end Iran's nuclear weapons programme that was reached in 2015 between Tehran and permanent members of the Security Council and Germany and the European Union and from which former US President Donald Trump withdrew): India has fully supported the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA and the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 (affirming it) ... We have always maintained that all the JCPOA related issues should be resolved peacefully through dialogue and diplomacy.
-- Palestine and Israel: We have been consistent in our long-standing support for the Palestinian cause, and for the establishment of a sovereign, viable, and an independent state of Palestine living side by side in peace and security with Israel. And we have believed firmly in the that only the two-state solution will deliver enduring peace for all Palestinians and Israelis, and this is achieved through direct negotiations between both sides ... We have been in touch with both the parties, and we are looking at a long term ceasefire.