Unite against terrorism | Daily News

Lanka’s call to South Asia:

Unite against terrorism

Three South Asian nations raised the issues of ‘bloodbath’, the Buddha’s message of peace and just selection of peace-keeping forces at the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York last week. While Pakistan warned about a possible bloodbath, India kept its cool as the peaceful land that gave the Buddha’s message of peace to the world. Sri Lanka, the land of pure Buddhism, called on the world body to be fair in UN Peace Keeping selections.

Speaking at the UNGA, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan warned of a bloodbath in the region due to Kashmir issue. He warned that India's crackdown in the disputed region risks war and urged the UN to act on lifting the 53-day lockdown. “If a conventional war starts between the two countries, anything could happen. It's not a threat, it's a fair worry. When a nuclear-armed country fights to the end, it will have consequences far beyond the borders. It will have consequences for the world,” he said.

Speaking in chaste Hindi, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said that India did not believe in ‘Yudh’ (war) and it is the land of ‘Budh’ (Gauthama Buddha). “We belong to a country that has given the world not war, but the Buddha's message of peace,” he said. Modi broadly denounced “terrorism” but avoided any mention of Kashmir. In his 15-minute address, Modi told the world leaders that India's “voice against terrorism rings with seriousness and outrage. Today the message from the world's largest democracy for the international community is still the same: harmony and peace.” He said that India’s call on the world is to “unite against terror.”

The US President Donald Trump also joined the debate on Kashmir on US soil. He spoke on Kashmir - after his meetings with Pakistan PM Imran Khan and PM Narendra Modi and during his final press conference at the UN Headquarters in New York. His interventions showed his grasp of what Kashmir conundrum entails in US relations with India - and Pakistan. Donald Trump, who met with both Modi and Khan this week, has urged the sides to resolve their differences.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during his UN speech Friday afternoon appealed to India and Pakistan. “As a neighbour of both nations, China hopes to see the dispute effectively managed and stability restored to the relationship between the two sides,” he said.

Conflict over Kashmir

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over the Himalayan region. India and Pakistan’s conflict over Kashmir dates to the late 1940s when they won independence from Britain. The region is one of the most heavily militarized in the world, patrolled by soldiers and paramilitary police. Most Kashmiris resent the Indian troop presence.

Pakistan wants the UN to act on its resolution passed in 1948, which called for a plebiscite in Kashmir. However, India is vehemently opposed to outside interference in the Kashmir issue.

“What is the world community going to do?” Khan asked. “Is it going to appease to a market of 1.2 billion or is it going to stand up for justice and humanity?” he said, referring to India's massive population.

While Indian Prime Minister Modi avoided any mention of Kashmir in his speech at the UNGA, Pakistan's Premier Khan launched an extraordinary attack on his Indian counterpart, warning of a bloodbath in the disputed region. “There are 900,000 troops there, they haven't come to, as Narendra Modi says - for the prosperity of Kashmir. These 900,000 troops, what are they going to do? When they come out? There will be a bloodbath,” he said during an impassioned and at times extemporaneous speech in which he called Modi's actions in Kashmir “stupid” and “cruel”.

India accuses Pakistan of supporting the Kashmiri fighters who have been waging an armed rebellion against the Indian rule - an allegation Islamabad denies. Modi has defended the Kashmir changes as freeing the territory from separatism. His supporters have welcomed the move.

India took advantage of its right of response to briefly condemn Khan’s words, calling them “hate speech” and “brinkmanship, not statesmanship.” “Rarely has the General Assembly witnessed such misuse — abuse — of the opportunity to reflect,” Indian diplomat addressing the UN said. She accused Khan of hypocrisy and said his words “reflect a medieval mindset and not a 21st-century vision.”

President Maithripala Sirisena, who attended the UNGA last four years, was conspicuously absent this year, obviously due to local political developments, taking different shapes almost every other day.

It was for Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha to tell few home truths to the UN. Following the statement issued by the Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General on Wednesday (25th) that the UN Department of Peace Operations has decided to repatriate a Sri Lankan Army unit and individual officers currently serving with UN Peacekeeping due to concerns on the appointment of Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva as the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, the Government of Sri Lanka is in discussion on this issue with the UN. First Aryasinha discussed the matter regarding the Sri Lankan peacekeeping troops with Jean-Pierre Lacroix the Under-Secretary-General of the UN Department of Peace Operations. Foreign Secretary pointed out that the President of Sri Lanka had appointed Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva as the Army Commander in the context that there were no factually substantiated or proven allegations of human rights violations against him, and by virtue of his being Chief of Staff at the time. Sri Lanka disputes the credibility of the compiled reports relating to allegations against Lt. Gen. Silva, he said.

Aryasinha pointed out that the 2011 Darusman Report was so seriously flawed that the Human Rights Council at the time had rejected to issue it with a formal number, as a UN document.

UN peacekeepers

The Foreign Secretary noted that in relation to this issue Sri Lanka was of the view that there have also been serious discrepancies in the information released to the public domain by the UN. There was no reference to the delay in the joint National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (NHRCSL) and UN vetting of peacekeepers, which had been alluded to when the discussion of limiting Peacekeepers was initially conveyed to the Government of Sri Lanka. It was pointed out that while the MoU with the UNDPO clearly states that modalities for termination shall be agreed to following consultations between the parties, in this instance, the UN did not fulfil its obligation and took a unilateral decision and presented a fait accompli to Sri Lanka.

Foreign Secretary Aryasinha requested that the UNDPO reviews its decision in the context of the facts presented by the Government of Sri Lanka, thereby, being respectful of a country that has been a long-standing contributor to UN Peacekeeping since 1960, and continues to serve in some of the most difficult theatres of action, having also suffered casualties.

 


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