New Delhi: The United Nations (UN) is not the forum to discuss Kashmir even as Pakistan, with the support of China, has been raking up the issue there since the scrapping of Article 370, T.S. Tirumurti, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, said.
In an interview to ThePrint, Tirumurti said the attempts by Islamabad, with the help of Beijing, to discuss India’s 5 August 2019 move at the UN Security Council (UNSC) have had “no takers”.
China is a permanent member of the UNSC along with the US, the UK, Russia and France.
India will become one of the 15 non-permanent members of the UNSC for a period of two years from January 2021. This is the eighth time India has been elected as a non-permanent member of the UNSC. Previously, it had been a member during 1950-1951, 1967-1968, 1972-1973, 1977-1978, 1984-1985, 1991-1992 and 2011-2012.
“We have made it very clear to everyone that Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter for us. And UN is not the forum to discuss this matter or even any issue relating to our bilateral relations with Pakistan and thanks to our reaching out to members of the UNSC, Pakistan’s attempts to rake up this issue of Jammu and Kashmir in the UN Security Council have practically no takers,” Tirumurti said. “This is the reason there has been no formal meeting of the security council on Jammu and Kashmir since 1965.”
China, on behalf of Pakistan, has attempted to take up the issue of Kashmir at the UN thrice — August 2019, January 2020 and August 2020 — since India scrapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, but failed every time.
“In August, they raised the matter and had no takers. So a clear message has reached them … But Pakistan chooses not to hear any wise counsel… If there are any bilateral issues with Pakistan at all, we can always address them under the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration,” he said.
‘Sanctions committees being politicised’
According to Tirumurti, the UNSC has established several sanction committees but some have been more effective than others.
He, however, added that sanctions committees are now being increasingly being “politicised” by some group of countries, especially committees like the 1267 Al-Qa’ida and ISIL (Da’esh) Sanctions Committee, which effectively deals with terrorists and terrorist organisations.
“There is a tendency by some countries to politicise the functioning of the sanctions committee, particularly 1267… A country like Pakistan that has the largest number of terrorists in these lists and continues to be the epicentre for supporting terrorism, is actually now playing the victim card and trying to divert attention from atrocities in their own country on Muslims and other minority communities,” he said.
Earlier this year, Pakistan made an attempt to list as terrorists four Indian nationals under the 1267 sanctions committee, which was finally rejected by the UNSC.
“They (Pakistan) have also by doing this has given the matter a religious colour. But the security council completely rejected this attempt of Pakistan and their attempt was thrown out of the council … It was a clumsy attempt,” he said.
“The main issue with Pakistan is its support — moral, diplomatic, financial, physical — and a lot of other ways to terrorists to target other countries in our region,” he added.
Tirumurti also said India will make a “fresh push” for the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT). The adoption of CCIT under the UN was first proposed by India in 1996, but it has been in limbo ever since due to opposition from several countries on some of the provisions in the convention.
“We see CCIT as complementing rather than replacing the existing instruments addressing certain aspects of terrorism,” he said. “But the negotiations on it have stretched on for more than a decade. We will need to give it a fresh push, especially, since the issue of terrorism has come to the fore.”
India’s ‘ambitious’ UN agenda
The Indian envoy also said the country will leverage its status as the world’s largest democracy to get its agenda discussed at the UN.
“We will use the prestige of being the world’s largest democracy,” he said. “Our priorities include counter-terrorism, including cross-border terrorism, taking up the reform of the UNSC in the larger context of the call by our Prime Minister for reformed multilateralism, strengthening peace and security, particularly peace-keeping.”
“We have an ambitious agenda but we are determined to pursue these during our stint in the UNSC,” he added.
UN Secretary General António Guterres gave a call for “global ceasefire” earlier this year in April as the coronavirus pandemic began to unfold. This was basically aimed at urging countries to not to resort to violence and put an end to all conflicts and fight the pandemic instead.
According to Tirumurti, it is “not enough” to just support the secretary-general’s call but to also “abide by” the very ethos of a global ceasefire.
In the context of the secretary-general’s call, a resolution was also passed aimed at cessation of hostilities for about 90 days, Tirumurti said, adding that the UNSC did make an exception for countries fighting the scourge of terrorism.
“This is precisely what India had been mentioning. We cannot have a call for a ceasefire while terrorism, particularly, cross-border terrorism, as well as aggression against territorial integrity of countries, go on around the world,” he said. “So countries will act and will have to act in defence of their sovereignty and national interest… Countries have to stop acting on the ground rather than paying lip service to the call and use it as a smokescreen to continue to do what they are doing now.”
UNSC is becoming ‘unrepresentative, unresponsive’
Tirumurti also said increasingly there are fissures within the P-5. “The P-5 are now more divided than before and there are fissures between these countries. These differences are only widening,” he said. “The challenge now is to bring these countries together so that these countries can contribute meaningfully to peace, security and development. The countries on which these differences will directly impact are the developing countries, particularly those countries which are vulnerable.”
Tirumurti added, “There is also a greater need for countries to respect the integrity and sovereignty of states and strengthen a rules-based international order. Covid cannot be an excuse to violate them. We are in danger of deviating from these basic principles in the world of today.”
He also said there is “resistance to reform by some powers that are keen on preserving the status quo is making the UN, particularly the UNSC, unrepresentative and therefore, unresponsive”.
“The UN of today is far more complex and far less united than it was before,” Tirumurti added. “But India has the capability to bring countries together, to work towards the common good and welfare of mankind.”
He said a “small group of countries” are holding the process of reform of the UNSC “hostage” and preventing others from moving forward.
“They have been doing it for a decade… We see these groups of countries as anti-developing countries as they are prevented from playing a larger role.”
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.